Yesterday the world celebrated International Women’s Day and this year’s theme “Each for Equal” prompted us to consider the difference between gender balance and gender equality. For us, gender balance is about the number of men and the number of women. Gender equality on the other hand, is about the way people treat each other and the experience we all have working together. In a gender equal workplace, everyone - regardless of gender - has equal rights, responsibilities and access to resources. Gender equality is the goal, and gender balance sets the stage to achieve it.
As females in the often-male dominated industries of infrastructure and construction, we get asked how we have managed and thrived in such environments. Throughout our careers, we have appreciated the importance of our networks, mentors and coaches. Working in defence and the civil service gives us access to a range of forums and networks and we urge you to take advantage of these. The most important thing though, is to be ourselves and be authentic. Be confident knowing that your skills transcend gender. Don’t feel obliged to act in a different way - it’s exhausting, counterproductive and unnecessary!
There have been many times where we have found ourselves as “the only woman in the team.” We’ve called it out – remove the elephant in the room so you all can move on and work together. Often, men are just as disappointed with the lack of gender diversity and welcome the opportunity to change it. Don’t be afraid to be the catalyst for change.
Within DIO, the executive committee has a rounded approach to working through challenges together. Each member, male or female, brings a different perspective and we challenge ourselves to reach the right outcome. We all have equal seats at the table and equal voices. We understand what each member brings to the team and appreciate the diverse set of skills and experiences. We have achieved gender balance and gender equality. We are setting a positive tone for diversity in the workplace.
Across defence, we have made positive strides towards gender balance and gender equality. We should celebrate this. The Women in Defence UK Awards recognise the extraordinary achievements of women in the defence enterprise and the men and women striving for gender equality. Please consider nominating your colleagues for these awards.
We are firm believers that we achieve more when we work together with others. We believe that it is about being collective. We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on the larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen and help each other to create a gender equal world. #EachforEqual