International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of women and highlight the existing bias and continued gender disparity at work. With increasing research and evidence of the benefits of a diverse and inclusive environment, Plural remains committed to creating more balance in its teams and promote equality both within and outside our company.
As part of this years’ theme “Each for Equal”, we wanted to celebrate three stories from our team on the challenges and success of striving towards equality both at Plural and the wider workplace.
Tilly Bickle – People & Engagement Manager
My role at Plural is to help build an environment that allows all employees to reach their full potential. I’ve been at Plural for almost three years and have watched the office grow and evolve – with women at the centre of the team. I can see the commitment that Plural has to its employees, irrespective of gender, and the tools they give them to develop.
This has been reflected in my own path, where Plural have helped me develop through the company, supporting me through CIPD training and enabling me to enter a new career path. The encouragement I’ve received from my peers, and senior management (when I didn’t always have faith in myself!) makes me very excited to continue to grow here. Looking forward, as a company we want to continue to create a diverse and inclusive workforce, that nurtures and develops talent, where gender balance is key.
Over the last year we have moved closer to this goal in multiple ways. At IWD 2019, the percentage of women in the Plural office was 38%. This has risen over the course of the year and currently sits at 45%. Increasing our gender balance, through new graduate, senior, and support staff hires has allowed us to create representation at all levels of the organisation. From Analyst through to Director, the women in Plural are able to see a clear career path through the organisation – with internal mentors at each level.
The women at Plural come from a range of backgrounds, creating diversity in skills and thought that help to foster an environment of knowledge-sharing and creativity. In a culture where diversity is celebrated, it is easy to feel part of the team, where everyone is encouraged to be their best selves. This has also undoubtedly supported our team’s overall productivity and engagement in and outside of projects. We also support the initiatives of our employees, encouraging them to engage with external issues, share their experience and take on leadership and mentoring roles.
This International Women’s Day theme, ”Each for Equal” allows us to showcase the individual efforts of Women at Plural who are all striving to build an inclusive workplace together.
Gabriella Rimmer – Senior Associate
In the last six months, I have been very fortunate to join the SheLeads team in China. SheLeads is a network and community in China that seeks to empower women in business through a series of events, content and mentorship programs. The network was created to build long-term valuable relationships among professional females in the workplace but also to enable women to share expertise and learn from each other in a safe and comfortable environment. By providing a platform for discussion, SheLeads allows common challenges faced by women to be openly talked about, forming a supportive group that emphasizes the role of female leaders in professional careers and provides role models for younger female generations.
Having identified the importance of female representation, I sought out the SheLeads founders and said I would love to get involved. In September 2019, I joined the SheLeaders summit as a guest workshop host, where I led a workshop with c. 20 female professionals and students on how to unleash the inner leader within. Beyond being able to provide guidance to other female professionals, I was able to meet with some inspiring women doing great things in China. Since the summit, I have joined the team as a support content development manager and help to produce articles, run online campaigns and manage some of the group’s social media. One of our most recent online campaigns which I helped to initiate, was the two-week personal development challenge, that was started in light of people having to stay home during the Coronavirus.
Plural’s encouragement of such community outreach initiatives is just one of many ways in which I get the support I need as a female in the workplace. Not only have I been able to represent Plural through supporting and inspiring young female professionals in China, but I have also learned so much from female leaders which I hope to pass on to other female professionals at Plural. Such opportunities will allow all members of the Plural community to thrive and ensure that we can move even closer towards the gender equal workplace we are striving for.
Louise Obadia – Director
In preparation for IWD 2020, I looked back over my career, which spans 25 years in the events industry and now strategy consulting, to try and identify the moments which have been shaped or influenced by being a woman. The good news is, whilst there have been times where I perhaps wasn’t taken seriously enough or was made to feel inadequate, being a woman has not stopped me from achieving the success I strove for. I was 26 when I wanted to start a business – the bank manager looked at me like I was a little girl asking for a pet rabbit when I approached them for funding – however, it didn’t stop them from providing us with the loan that enabled us to launch and run a successful company. When I sold my business six years later to the biggest events company in the world, I was the only woman at the table during the sale negotiations, but in no way did it hinder me from achieving the best price for the business and securing a positive future for our staff. Today, where young female entrepreneurs are more prevalent and celebrated, I am sure my experience would have been far more positive.
The biggest challenge I faced and women continue to face is the age old ‘juggling act’ of balancing your career with motherhood. Wanting to be able to do it all and feeling like you are never giving 100% to anything is ever present in women’s lives. The pressure women put upon themselves to prove that they can do their job to the same high standard as men, whilst needing to leave by 6pm to go home, cook dinner and help with homework, can be debilitating and undermine your confidence. When I decided to embark on a career change and joined Plural, despite working in an hours intensive and male dominated industry, their family first ethos and genuine drive to ensure that women are an equal force within the business has made such a difference. The fact that flexible working is more commonplace helps, but Plural trust you to do your job well irrespective of the hours you sit at your desk.
Joining Plural has allowed me to lead by example, as the first woman on the senior management team I have been able to use my experience in industry to provide a different perspective and shape the culture. For me, being a good leader is to motivate, inspire and to bring out the best in the people you work with. Being able to be authentic, empathetic, a good listener, build relationships and instil trust are some of the most essential tools to gain the respect of others. I feel these skillsets are often cultivated in women and observing the women in our office, I have no doubt there are future leaders in the making!
Moving towards “Each for Equal”
While Plural continues to build a genuinely diverse workplace and celebrate the success of its women, we recognise that there is still more to be done to become “Each for Equal”. We will continue to strive towards this through formal and informal initiatives focusing on bringing in the brightest female talent, creating a supportive environment to allow them to thrive, and championing the very talented team of women at Plural to have the confidence and positive attitude they need to succeed.