A balanced world is a better world. That’s the key message this International Women’s Day. Celebrating the achievements of women across the world, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality, we strive to create balance in our workforce, our communities and our regions.
It’s not just one day a year
This isn’t just something we’re thinking about on International Women’s Day and it isn’t just a women’s issue, it matters to all of us and is a business issue that needs to be on the agenda every single day: creating gender balance is critical to successful economies and communities. Our mission to create thriving cities can only succeed when the value of women’s contributions to economic growth is recognised by all and the development of female skills and talent given equal weight from birth.
The first International Women’s Day was over 100 years ago and is now a collective action across the world. Whether it’s in the workplace, in the education system, in government, in sport, in media; whatever it may be, the world expects and needs balance.
Practicing what we preach
At Bruntwood, we’re proud to have female role models and leaders throughout the many functions of our business, from different backgrounds and with different skill sets. In April 2018, the number of women in the business was 280 - 41% of the organisation. Inside and outside of Bruntwood, these women are helping to promote the gender balance agenda.
Last year, we were pleased to announce the appointment of Ciara Keeling as CEO of Bruntwood Works. Ciara has been with the company for over 14 years and this latest appointment is just one of many achievements throughout her time with us. Responsible for relationships with over 2,000 customers employing over 55,000 people across our regions, Ciara has unrivalled understanding of how our business and customers are developing.
More recently, Amy De-Balsi joined our Bruntwood SciTech team as head of innovation and partnerships in Leeds. A successful entrepreneur in her own right, Amy is the founder of the Leeds Digital Jobs Fair. In her role at Bruntwood, she will be focusing on strengthening Leeds' tech cluster by working in partnership with universities, professional services providers, investors and corporate tech teams in the city region.
We believe that having a key role model like Amy in the region will help to encourage more women into digital and tech jobs. STEM sectors have been working to redress the imbalance in the workplace, the boardroom and classrooms for some time now and we are playing our part by supporting initiatives such as Manchester Digital’s Digital Her mission. Through providing the right support, opportunities and guidance, Digital Her aims to inspire and empower girls to engage with STEM-related subjects, and have the confidence and desire to explore the amazing careers available in digital and tech.
Over in the retail sector, our Head of Retail and Leisure, Andrea George is using her wealth of industry experience to support and create thriving retail and leisure destinations across our regions. Andrea is also keen to promote female leaders in the retail and leisure sphere. At our first ever Bruntwood Dines last month, Andrea chatted to MBE and founder of the hugely successful Mowgli Indian street food restaurant, Nisha Katona. Hear more from Andrea, Nisha and more female retail entrepreneurs in our latest podcast.
Of course, these are just a few of the incredible and inspiring females working across our teams at Bruntwood. We’re proud to have strong female leaders working across the arts, culture, strategy, science, technology, building and construction, marketing, energy, HR and brand teams There’s not a team left untouched by female ideas, motivation and drive, as it should be.
Celebrating International Women’s Day
In Manchester, International Women’s Day has particular resonance with the city, as the birthplace of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. It was from her home on Nelson Street in Manchester that the first Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) meeting took place. The house is now the Pankhurst Centre and is open to the public as a monument to and museum to discover the Suffragette movement, as well as housing Manchester Women’s Aid who support women in need across Greater Manchester. To celebrate International Women’s Day, Egoiste Gallery at Afflecks is offering the chance to win a signed Stanley Chow print of Emmeline Pankhurst. Head to their Twitter account to enter by naming the female who inspires you.
At Hatch, our pop-up retail, food and drink destination on Oxford Road, we’re celebrating the day with an all female line-up. Our resident open mic night curator, Izzie Walsh has the music sorted, performing alongside a selection of female artists including Toria Wooff, Chloe Jones and Camilla Sky. An all-female team will be taking over Ol’s nano brewery for the whole weekend and Takk will be showcasing coffee roasted by female roasters. And if that’s not enough, make sure to visit Nordic Music where founder, Jenny Maxwell will be contributing 10% of profits from the day to Womenkind and raising money in-store through customer donations. Based in the UK, the Womenkind charity is endorsed by IWD and works towards a worldwide movement for change.
Discounts are also being offered at Afflecks, the shopping emporium in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Artist, curator and owner of The Fox Fairy, Elisabeth Neveux, is raising money for women’s charity, Emmeline’s Pantry by selling mini prints. Along with their Emmeline Pankhurst print competition, Egoiste Gallery is also offering 20% off all artwork by female artists.
Over in Leeds, our Director of Strategy, Jessica Bowles, and our Community Engagement Manager, Wendy Denman, will be celebrating International Women’s Day at a special event hosted by Leeds City Council, Northern Ballet and Women's Lives Leeds. This will be the sixth consecutive year that the city has marked the day through this opportunity to connect with others across the city and will be launching the ‘State of Women’s Health’ report – the first report of its kind nationally.
Finally, our partners at Barclays Eagle Labs in Manchester are joining forces with tech company Sopra Steria to host an event with a speaker line-up that promise to inspire, challenge and provoke debate. Professor Carol Atkinson from Manchester Metropolitan University will be discussing the effects and challenges of working through menopause and how organisations can support women through this stage in their life. Promoting STEM subjects for women, Emily Walker will be telling the story of her journey in the software development industry. And talking about the reality of taking the ‘Balance for Better’ movement forward in the workplace, Marc Timmerman, Partner at Axiom Consulting Partners, will be discussing how businesses can make a difference. To hear what these incredible speakers have to stay, head to the Bruntwood Twitter today 12 – 1.45pm where we’ll be live posting the sessions.
Taking the movement forward
The scales of gender equality are slowly tipping in the right direction, but there is much work yet to be done. Through the power of strong female role models, we’re helping to pave the way for more women in positions of influence, creating better balanced world. We are ensuring that equality and diversity remains a company priority, and our long term support for organisations fights for change across arts, culture, local government and education. We are committed to a gender-balanced boardroom and a gender-balance of employees. Reflecting the communities we live and work in, by supporting and promoting gender balance, we aim to create better balanced cities that will truly thrive and better lives for women and men alike.