“There should be no glass ceiling; setting up Lansons gave me the opportunity to reframe the world of business.” These were the words shared by our Chairman, Clare Parsons, at a recent women in business event I attended. I haven’t forgotten them. And they sprang to mind again when, on the 8th March – amid the usual chatter and excitement around the Government’s Budget announcement – Lansons showed its support for International Women’s Day and its call to #BeBoldForChange.
From women’s suffrage to equal pay and political representation, gender inclusivity remains high on the agenda as women and men across the globe continue to take a stand against gender inequality. This annual initiative is therefore hugely important to celebrate the achievements of women and encourage EVERYONE to help forge a more inclusive gender-equal world. And of course, this is something Lansons supports in bucket-loads, being a proud advocate of equality in all shapes and forms.
Indeed, it’s this thinking that formed the very foundations of Lansons back in 1989 when the agency was launched by Clare, in partnership with Tony Langham, our Chief Executive. She wasn’t afraid to launch herself head-first into what was then considered to be a very male-dominated city, and empower the women around her to show the same fearlessness.
And here are a few Lansons facts for you… When Lansons was founded, its first five recruits were all senior women. Today, Lansons is 70% female. 82% of its partners are women, and seven of our ten-strong management team are women. These are statistics we are hugely proud of.
While International Women’s Day happens just once a year, this year’s notion of “being bold for change” is one that we should carry with us always. This doesn’t need to be “big” – you don’t need to turn into the next Emma Watson or scream from the rooftops à la Madonna. This could simply be feeling more empowered to make subtle changes to how you live your life – speaking up to get your views heard, pushing yourself for a promotion or new job that would have otherwise gone to someone else, or making an important life decision such as stepping away from work entirely (because that’s fine too).
But to tackle gender inequality generally, we must first start by addressing some of the most common examples of sexism still at use today. How often have you heard the phrases “women drivers”, being “a bit blonde”, or doing something “like a girl”? And when it comes to women at work, while in many ways I love the popular 90’s TV programme Absolutely Fabulous, which saw the hilarious Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley poke fun at the PR world, the “Ab Fab notion” has a risk of being hugely damaging to women in the workplace.
We all have a role to play in forging a more gender-inclusive world, and avoiding common gender traps is just the start of it. As said by Stephen G. Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “you can’t talk your way out of something you behaved yourself into.”