International Women’s Day – 8th March 2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day we ran two special editions of The Business Brunch as we were joined by a cross-section of inspirational women from the B4 community as they discussed their own personal experiences and challenges within the workplace, both positive and negative.

International Women’s Day is about highlighting how far women have come, the struggles they have faced/are facing within the working/day to day environment and how we can, sooner rather than later, reach a point in society where both men and women are treated equally.

The first brunch was led by Penny Rinta-Suksi, Commercial Partner from Blake Morgan and the second by Sarah Foster, Managing Partner of Freeths in Oxford. 

Penny’s group focused on women leading in business, unconscious bias and getting over imposter syndrome, whilst Sarah chaired a discussion focusing on the impact of COVID-19 and whether a post COVID world will be easier for women. 

Sarah Foster
Sarah Foster, Freeths
Penny Rinta-Suksi, Blake Morgan
Sam Kandiyali
Sam Kandiyali, Target PR
ria shepherd
Ria Shepheard, Charles Stanley

A common topic discussed within both conversations was the need for more flexibility with working hours. Balancing home and professional life has been a huge challenge for parents (women and men) generally over the last 12 months and finding the right balance has been an important issue. It was generally agreed that the working week is bordering on seven days for many as parents have found their time is being absorbed by homeschooling, with the end result being that they can’t be as productive within their fixed working hours.  Flexibility is a good thing, but we need to be careful of the boundaries between work and home life too. 

“Flexibility is a good thing, but we need to be careful of the boundaries between work and home life too.”

A question presented by Sarah was ‘do we feel that women perform better in moments of uncertainty?’ This led to a very interesting discussion where guests acknowledged how female-led countries, such as Germany and New Zealand, have arguably dealt with the virus more effectively, therefore resulting in far fewer deaths. This theme was common to both groups. It was also discussed whether women have a nurturing instinct of care which may be why they perform better in difficult situations. 

In Penny’s group it was highlighted that as a woman working in a male-dominated environment, it can be easy to lose self-confidence which can unfortunately result in women underestimating their capabilities. Some anecdotes were shared about how this can happen. Imposter syndrome was discussed, and it was mentioned that women can sometimes be unintentionally made to feel that in order to fit in they have to become ‘one of the boys’, which can be incredibly uncomfortable at times. The group agreed it was best for women leaders to avoid doing so and instead appreciate, gain confidence from and rely on their own skills and talents. 

Helen money
Helen Money, Helen Money Nutrition
Megan carter
Megan Carter, Blenheim
Nicola Wallbank, Julian Taylor Solicitors
Nicola Wallbank, Julian Taylor Solicitors
ruth hawkins
Ruth Hawkins, Boardman Hawkins & Osborne

Women leaders can help others get onto boards and into similar roles through challenging unconscious bias where they see it, and directly encouraging other female leaders to put themselves forward. Anecdotes were shared on how they could do that.

International Women’s Day is clearly very much about women but it’s not just for women – it’s for everyone, a theme made clear in Penny’s group. Men may have wives, mothers, daughters who they want to see succeed for their own talents. It is important for men and women to start conversations, discussing how we can create equal environments for everyone and acknowledging that both men and women have their own strengths that all shine brighter in different situations and it’s important we accept that and not to discriminate. 

“Discussing how we can create equal environments for everyone and acknowledging that both men and women have their own strengths.”

With thanks to Sarah Foster of Freeths and Penny Rinta-Suksi of Blake Morgan who chaired the following guests: Sam Kandiyali of Target PR, Ria Shepheard of Charles Stanley, Helen Money of Helen Money Nutrition, Megan Carter of Blenheim Palace, Nicola Wallbank of Julian Taylor Solicitors, Ruth Hawkins of Boardman Hawkins & Osborne LLP Solicitors, Nadine Hatten of NielsenIQ, Alice Schmidt (Senior Global Health Adviser to the European Commission) and Marie O’Connor of Conference Oxford. 

Nadine Hatten, Nielsen IQ
Alice Schmidt
Alice Schmidt, AS Consulting
Marie O’Connor
Marie O’Connor, Conference Oxford

To watch the full business brunches click these links below:

B4 is supported by

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