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TGt Meets...Nina Murray, Associate Tutor at Inspired2learn - IWD Special
On March 8 it will be the annual day to celebrate women across all walks of life and all over the world. This year's day has the theme #choosetochallenge. We've invited women from across the UK - including Swindon - to take part and share their views. Some have also been kind enough to donate to some fundraising in honour of IWD 2021 we've done in several of our areas including Swindon and Dorset. Many thanks to those who have spared a few pennies to support a local charity at this challenging time.
By Nina Murray, Associate Tutor at Inspired2learn based in Devizes, Wiltshire. The company delivers Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications in management and leadership and Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) qualifications in coaching and mentoring. The team also provide executive coaching and coach supervision services.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge – what would you choose to challenge?
I think that we talk a lot about the obvious examples of gender discrimination (e.g. gender pay gap, male dominated CEO roles etc.), but in my opinion, to change them, we need to also focus and call out acts of subtle discrimination, against both women and men.
How often do we still hear that ‘this is too hard for women’ or ‘you are too pretty to be doing that', or how often are men still told to ‘man up’ or get a surprised look when they mention that they are a nurse?
All those subtle and seemingly harmless acts of discrimination continue to drive discrimination and inequality against both sexes and we must be challenging it.
Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender?
I’m a woman and I’m a foreigner and I have experienced inequalities from both aspects, but I tend to focus on turning challenges into opportunities.
If I’m ‘not invited to the table’, I will ‘bring my own table’. I will simply not let inequalities or stereotypes stop me from working towards my dreams – life is too short for that.
Have you during your career ever challenged a situation where you felt a woman (even if it’s yourself) has been disadvantaged by gender?
I’m not afraid to challenge someone and I feel that without challenging there won’t be progress. It's everyone’s responsibility to challenge when we feel something isn’t right, fair or ethical.
What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business?
I find it difficult to highlight gender specific qualities as in my mind this would imply that women are all the same and all with similar qualities and that’s simply not true.
Regardless of gender, we are all different and unique: I know plenty of men who have excellent technical skills and I know plenty of women who have them too. I know plenty of women who are empathetic, compassionate, self-aware and kind, and I know plenty of men with those qualities too.
Women can bring a lot of amazing qualities, skills and knowledge to the world of business, we simply don’t always have equal opportunities to contribute to success.
Is gender important when it comes to success in business?
There is plenty of research that confirms how much diversity contributes to success in business e.g. “Between 2011 and 2015, the most gender diverse quarter of companies were 20pc more likely than the least diverse to have above average financial performance, a report by management consultants McKinsey found”.
We spent decades talking about the benefits of gender diversity in the workplace now though and although business seems to understand the importance of diversity, the progress in this area is still painfully slow.
Can you name up to three women in business or in your organisation or in the wider business community that you admire?
I have been very fortunate to always be surrounded by lots of wonderful and very inspiring women who I not only admire, but who also helped to shape me into the person that I am today. Rather than focusing on names, I prefer to focus on the qualities I admire and they are sense of purpose, passion, ambition, humility, willingness to learn, persistence and excellent listening skills.
I think it’s important to have role models, but for me who I admire is less about gender and much more about the person’s human qualities.
Do you think women who start their own business experience more challenges than men?
Women often experience more challenges not only due to systemic gender discrimination that has been woven into our society’s fabric over centuries, but also because of our own doubts and the fact that we often focus more on our own perceived shortcomings rather than strengths and successes.
I feel that some of this is driven by the way we were brought up - the conversations we are having now about gender equality, confidence, assertiveness, leadership etc were not happening when I was growing up.
In fact, for years my generation was told that as a girl you should or shouldn’t do or aim for certain things, so you grow up with a certain mindset and plenty of limiting beliefs, and it takes years to undo some of it.
What do you think about the gender pay gap?
Last year marked 50 years since the Equal Pay Act received Royal Assent in the UK and although unequal pay is now illegal, unfortunately the gender pay gap still exists (in 2020 the gap among all employees was 15.5%).
Some of the reasons for the gap are the fact that there are still many more men than women in senior positions - according to the Female FTSE Board report (2020), there are just seven female CEOs across the FTSE 100, and around 13% of female executive directors.
Women are still primary carers in most households and women’s roles are more negatively impacted during crises like the COVID19 pandemic – according to McKinsey’s recent research: “By our calculation, women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs. Women make up 39 percent of global employment but account for 54 percent of overall job losses”
What do you think about the International Women’s Day movement?
I’m originally from Poland and I remember this day being a big celebration back in the 80s. International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years now (its first celebration was in 1911) and its aims are to advance the status of women worldwide and campaign for gender equality, so to be honest I think it’s quite embarrassing that over century later we still have to fight for gender equality.
As humans, we consider ourselves intelligent species, yet we struggle with basic practices like equality for all humans, regardless of gender.
That I hope that one day we will get to a point where we will no longer have to talk and fight for gender equality, but will instead be able to have days celebrating human qualities.
For more information visit www.inspired2learn.co.uk
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