Empowering yourself this International Women’s Day
5 March 2021
Today is International Women’s Day, the official day for celebrating women all over the world and for highlighting the call for gender equality.
And we’re here with some empowering advice from a few of our female colleagues at Practice Plus Group:
- Alison Phillis, Deputy Director Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)
- Kate Carter, Director of Nursing and Professions
- Elisabeth Foster-Hall, Project Manager, Secondary Care
The original aim of this day was to gain universal equality for women, however since this hasn’t been achieved (a staggering report from the UN last year found that almost 90 percent of people are prejudiced against women globally!) the ongoing need for this day of awareness is an obvious one.
So on this special day, we’d like to use it to encourage women everywhere to continue overcoming the barriers they may face and to listen to some words of wisdom a few of our female colleagues would like to share.
Alison Phillis, Deputy Director Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)
I’m very fortunate that within my career, I’ve generally experienced a sense of equivalence within the workplace. However, I do have one example where my gender was viewed over my profession.
I was on an important conference call with around ten technical support colleagues. I was asking difficult questions which had not been prepared for and the host asked me to be quiet in an offensive and unprofessional way.
I was silent for a moment then rallied my confidence to ask for the information I needed. I got it, but then I stayed quiet for the rest of the call, as an unease settled within me.
After the call, I reflected on why I felt aggrieved. I considered the facts: I was the only female on the call, and the language and manner of delivery was inappropriate and wouldn’t have been directed to any male colleague.
I believed that to challenge this behaviour on the call would have been unprofessional on my part also, so I was effectively silenced and my being there rendered pointless.
I could have dropped it, moved on and tried to forget, but then nothing changes if we don’t challenge these behaviours when we are presented with them.
I called the host back and shared with him my sense of grievance and asked that he consider the prejudiced nature of his manner and choice of language, to which he asked to discuss further. We spoke about the issue exploring the detail of the interaction, the intention and consequences.
He did apologise and expressed a better understanding of the impact of the exchange. This was a sincere lack of consciousness on the part of my colleague and we both learned from this experience that we have a responsibility to call it out when it doesn’t feel right.
With the right approach and a willingness to engage and learn what discrimination looks and feels like in the workplace, we significantly improved our communication and I’m very happy to consider this ex-colleague, a friend.
So I ask you to speak up when you see something that goes against equality. Challenge your own views and thoughts and the language you use. And if you’re not sure whether it’s a sexist comment, ask yourself if it’s something you could say to anyone, if not, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it.
And above all, remember, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be, stand tall and be counted: you are equal and enough.
Kate Carter, Director of Nursing and Professions
The most rewarding part of my job is visiting sites and meeting the teams. Listening to colleagues describe how we innovate and the constant strive to improve the way we work, is truly inspirational.
One of the projects I’ve been extremely proud to promote and be a part of in Practice Plus Group is the Springboard Women’s Development programme, designed for women from all backgrounds, ages and stages of their lives.
It allows women to enhance their own skills and abilities, challenge power and equality, while building confidence, assertiveness and a positive image.
Whether the ambition is career development, improving life skills or to set practical, yet stretching goals, the course will provide the tools to inspire and empower participants to make a change.
Sounds aspirational but I’ve seen it for myself! I’ve witnessed the results in the Practice Plus Group employees that have completed the course. Individuals speak of a new sense of purpose and a more positive attitude to change.
I’m proud that Practice Plus Group offer this course to our female colleagues, and believe that more companies should be delivering this type of opportunity for women to learn the tools to empower themselves within the workplace, home and social life.
International Women’s Day provides a voice for women, it’s time for them to step into the light today and every day.
Elisabeth Foster-Hall, Project Manager, Secondary Care
As a mum of three, full time worker and Master of Business Administration student – multi-tasking under pressure is part of my everyday life! As someone who is constantly juggling a hundred things at once, here’s my advice for any woman wanting to progress in their career:
If, like me, you started your career later in life, my advice is to plan your days efficiently – time is precious. Working around family life can be difficult but it’s definitely achievable. So get out your diaries and start scheduling!
Secondly, in your career it’s important to recognise when change is needed. When I started working for Practice Plus Group 10 years ago, I quickly saw how improvements to even the smallest of things could be made in day to day activities, saving time and improving efficiency.
Before long I had created a patient journey improvement scheme that went on to reach the finals of the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Awards. Remember, even if you’re in a small team, you can make a big difference.
Thirdly, it’s important to stick to what matters to you. I set out some core values early in my career to always listen, support and trust my colleagues. I found myself later in my career drifting away from these core values and I had to remind myself to re-centre.
I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s good to grow and progress, but always try have your beliefs at the heart of what you do. I hope this advice will inspire you to go out there and follow your dreams. Remember as women we have the power to mentor, shape, develop, and become awesome leaders!