International Women’s Day –
recognising the progress of
women at work.

Today is International Women’s Day which gives us an opportunity to focus on the progress of women’s rights and continue to challenge any prejudices against women. Here at the BBA we celebrate the role of our women and we are proud of the staff who have overcome any challenges to be recognised in their careers.

We have a number of women in leadership roles at the BBA including, Dawn Dobson our Head of HR, who highlights there should be no barrier to success, and explains how International Women’s Day plays an important role in keeping the progress of women under the spotlight.

“My first role on leaving education was in a building society,” Dawn recalls of her own career. “The manager, the assistant manager and the chief clerk were male, whilst the junior members of the team were all female. Expectations on women were low and we didn’t feel confident or supported in questioning this. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around long. I’ve been lucky to spend most of my career so far working for an employer who had a completely different culture; being a woman was never a barrier to success but that didn’t mean that they always got it right.

“A lot has changed in recent years,” Dawn adds. “Organisations are more aware of the obstacles that can prevent women from achieving their potential and actively take steps to remove these obstacles. Senior leaders now recognise the value of having diversity of thought in their Leadership team.

“Finally, standards of behaviours have improved, people are now more aware of how to act to create a more harmonious environment. Again, that’s not to say we always get it right but there is a strong will to make a difference, thanks to initiatives like International Women’s Day.”

Some disparity still exists in the wider world and some industries remain male-dominated, so how does the BBA encourage equal rights amongst staff?

“’Equal rights’ is probably not the right question – the question is what are we doing to ensure equal opportunity and a level playing field for women?” asks Dawn. “I consider myself very lucky to work at BBA. We have strong women in senior roles in the business, but we also have strong women who have untapped potential. It’s a key role of senior leaders in the business to foster potential in everyone, where practical we fill vacancies internally to give everyone the opportunity for growth.

“We have flexible and hybrid working making it easier to fit work around caring responsibilities. But we need to do more. For managers being attentive and listening to all our people is important to find out what stops them achieving their potential and clearly that may be different for everyone. For leaders, being unafraid to try new ways of working is important.”

This year International Women’s Day falls within Women In Construction week which maximises the opportunity to amplify the work of our female colleagues at the BBA.

“I love the fact that International Women’s Day and Women in Construction fall on the same week,” says Dawn.

“Our industry benefits from talented women who grew up in a very different culture to ours and have had to fight harder to achieve what they’ve achieved. I’m not sure we’re doing enough to recognise this and make these women feel valued.

“It’s a good reminder that not all women in the world have the opportunities for education and work that we have.”

The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #BreakTheBias, but how does bias manifest itself in the workplace?

Read more.