Today, Thursday the 8th of March, marks International Women’s Day – an annual day that calls for gender parity. This year’s theme is Press for Progress. Following a year that has been marked by movements such as #MeToo & #TimesUp, there is no better time to push for gender equality.
With a 70% female majority at Cpl, we are fortunate to have many strong and empowered women as mentors and colleagues. We asked a small selection of these to share their stories and advice on how to press for progress, inside and outside of work.
Lorna Conn, Chief Financial Officer, Cpl
Lorna offers her advice on how to succeed in your career.
I have been fortunate to work for companies which were well represented by women at every level. Reflecting on my own experiences, if I was to give advice to any woman it would be this:
- Don’t deny your core – you will always come back to this point, no matter how hard you might try to be someone you’re not. People follow authentic leaders, so focus on being the very best version of ‘you’.
- Embrace being a woman – women have a very unique set of leadership qualities. There is no compensation needed for not being a man.
- Have compassion – understand that most people need a degree of flexibility in their working lives, male or female.
- Never put your career ahead of having a family (if a family is what you want) – most women will have 40+ years to make their professional mark. There is plenty of time to accommodate career ambition and a family. Interests outside of work will enrich your life in a way work never can.
Áine Brolly, CEO of Cpl Solutions International, Director, Ardlinn
Áine shares her thoughts on the importance of equality & education.
I grew up in a busy environment where both my parents worked as full-time school teachers and professional musicians. My parents never differentiated between ‘the girls and boys’. We were always treated equally and pushed equally hard to do our best.
My parents believed that a good education was critical to succeed in life and they encouraged us to think for ourselves, be independent and not to follow the pack. In terms of my career, I have always been ambitious and believed I could be as good as anyone else regardless of my gender. As a mother, it is difficult to get the balance right and it continues to be a work in progress, however I’ve been lucky to have a very supportive husband and family which is essential.
Sharon Vize, HR Director, Cpl
Sharon discusses the importance of not feeling guilty for working, or not working.
I was asked recently by another female in my network if I felt guilty for being a working mum or for not taking opportunities in my career because of having a family. I have never felt guilty on either counts. Working is what I do and I tell my kids that having a career is great and staying at home is great. I choose to work and it shapes who I am.
I have the perfect balance between work, home and time for me. What I always say to people is that you should never feel guilty, and if the pace of your career path slows down, that’s fine. If you are determined and can visualise your success, you will get there. I have a very supportive partner and a great support network. If you get that right, all the rest falls into place.
Mary Carroll, Director, Career Consultants, Cpl
Mary shares her story of pressing for progress, even in the most difficult of times.
After a difficult period, I’m at a time in my life where I’m celebrating! It began with a separation in January 2015 and becoming ill the same year. In February 2016 I had a cancer diagnosis and in March I closed the sale of a dream house. On the 24th March I had a successful operation but I wasn’t well enough to start chemo until May.
My biggest disappointment was when I was told I would lose my hair so the day before chemo started, I threw an impromptu champagne and wigs party which set me on my way! Chemo started and continued for the next 3 months followed by radiation and other medication for a further 9 months. During this time my dream house was knocked to the foundations and rebuilt to my own design. I’m still separated, I’m healthy again, I’m back at work and I love my house.
Siobhan O’Shea, Sales Director, Cpl
Siobhan talks about the importance of role models – male and female.
As a passionate supporter of Diversity & Inclusion, I have always believed in supporting and promoting women in the workforce. I have had excellent role models both female and male, who have supported and encouraged me throughout my career so I’m a firm believer in paying it forward.
If you are in the position to put your hand out then you should! Promotion, mentoring, empowerment and support are all important to drive progress. I experienced some unconscious bias when my children were young in respect of a career promotion so challenging stereotypes and bias remains important to me.
Interested in contributing to #pressforprogress?
To coincide with International Women’s Day, we are proud to support Dress for Success. This is a not for profit organisation that empowers women to shape their own future by providing services such as; CV review and advice, mock interview training and styling and make-up advice.