We feel particularly passionate about this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, ‘Break the Bias’. That’s because many of us women at Iridium, whether newer to working life or a bit longer in the tooth, have seen, experienced or overcome bias at one point or another during our careers. And although we don’t experience bias directly in our day-to-day roles, we still see it around us through our friends, families, peers and via social media. 
To help inspire other women - and men - to break the cycle of bias and achieve greater gender balance overall, we’ve put our heads together to share our own experiences, as well as advice for employers and young females entering the world of work. 
Have you ever had to adapt your career path or role due to being a woman? 
Claire (PR & Social Media Manager): “I worked a three-day week for 13 years after the birth of my first child. I felt lucky at the time as this was unheard of in the marketing world back in the early 2000s. I did, however, also feel that I had to be ‘always on’ to make it work, so clients and colleagues could always get hold of me on the phone or by email on my days off. It wasn’t ideal.” 
Sharon (Finance Manager): “I loved the job I had pre-children, but during my maternity leave I realised I needed to change slightly to allow me to work part-time without having to make up full-time and more hours on nights and weekends to meet client’s needs.” 
Yasmin (Marketing Coordinator): “I am grateful for the opportunities that were given to me growing up. The teachers and lecturers I had were aware of gender gaps in professions and underrepresentation in certain fields. Therefore, we were actively encouraged to embrace all options and industry fields. My ambitions led me to apply to a field where I felt there were opportunities emerging for women.” 
Have you ever worked in an environment where you felt you had to work harder to prove yourself because you’re a woman? 
Sharon: “I worked in various professional practices before having children. One day I was in a meeting and someone said, “women without children are like sponges, they feel the need to soak up all the excess work around them and do so at a really high level”. It wasn’t meant derogatory, they were simply stating the difference between the young women and men in the office and why women were actually really good for the company. But this has always stuck with me and made me realise what myself and many of my female colleagues were doing to try and get recognition as a valued team member.” 
Amanda (Business & Operations Consultant): “In a previous role I felt undervalued. I was on a lesser salary than my male colleagues, and because I was a female the director spoke and treated me like something he had stepped in. Not in a million years would he have spoken to a male member of staff as he spoke to me.” 
Claire: “I’ve had clients in very male-centric businesses over the years who have talked to me as if I’m a ‘silly girl’ who I’ve had to stand up to. These situations were always altogether uncomfortable and unnecessary.” 
Has being a woman influenced where and how you work today? 
Charlotte (Operations Support): “I’ve always chosen places of work which are close to where I live. If I have to take public transport, I try to make sure it’s only one short train or bus journey. A short, direct route makes me feel safer.” 
Katie (Resource Coordinator): I work from home, part-time, to accommodate childcare. 
Sharon: “I choose to work part-time to spend time with my youngest, but I also consider the location and travel to/from work in case I need to be back in an emergency. I commuted from Leeds to Sheffield/Derbyshire area every day for two and a half years in my 20s and it didn’t bother me, something I couldn’t imagine doing now.” 
Claire: “Having successfully worked ‘part time’ and flexibly for 16 years now, largely due to being a mum, I don’t really believe full time, 9-5 hours are necessary to complete any role. I’m living proof.” 
What benefits does gender balance bring to the Iridium team? 
Yasmin: “Women play significant roles across our entire team. It’s part of our culture, it’s who we are and we’re incredibly proud of it. A gender-balanced team at Iridium has brought high levels of achievement, talent and creativity. A consultancy in which women are respected and listened to creates a motivated workforce with equally strong and compassionate voices.” 
Claire: “It’s normal in society to have diversity, and gender balance brings the same natural harmony to workplaces. Iridium has a wonderful blend of men and women, and the respect and support that runs through the business is just lovely. 
Sharon: “With most of the team having children, everyone is understanding of childcare commitments and the need for flexibility, not just women.” 
Jade (Business & Operations Support): “Everybody is seen as an asset to the company, and we are made to feel just as important as one another.” 
Charlotte: “Gender balance brings different experiences and opinions to the team. It brings a new way of thinking and can help everyone be more open with viewpoints and opinions.” 
What advice would you have for employers who are biased towards men? 
Claire: “Male and women bring out the best in each other. It’s human nature. By slicing women (or men) out of a business, intentional or not, employers are limiting the potential of a workforce.” 
Yasmin: “The significant benefits from understanding equality and the power of a gender-diverse influence are essential to every company. Admitting that gender bias exists in your company is the first step to identifying where it falls weak in hiring, promoting, or developing employees. You cannot expect your staff to change a gender biassed workplace on their own — the actions required for this shift need to start at the top. As soon as there is a focus on objectivity and equal judgment in their criteria, organisations will reap the rewards of a productive, high performing team.” 
Sharon: “Just because a woman may have additional commitments at home or a desire to work part-time. It doesn’t mean they can’t be any less of a valuable person to the team than a man. There are a lot of skills and experiences that women can offer which they may be missing out on.” 
Based on your own experience as a professional female, what advice would you give to young women starting out in their careers? 
Katie: “Don’t let the fact you’re a woman impact how you approach your career. Push boundaries and set examples for future strong women to follow in your footsteps.” 
Sharon: “Hard work does pay off whether you’re a man or woman, but you shouldn’t need to prove you can work harder, longer or more flexibly than a male counterpart for equal reward.” 
Amanda: “Know your worth and don’t let anyone make you feel that you are not good enough.” 
Charlotte: “Do what makes you happy. Don’t listen to anyone else. Don’t be afraid to be strong-willed.” 
Yasmin: “Don’t step away from a career opportunity based on what ‘might happen’, stretch for those goals that may be challenging, uncomfortable and risky because these will be the areas you excel in. Use your voice and strive to become the woman you aspire to be.” 
Claire: “Don’t ever be intimidated by a man. Remember, just like them, you’ve been given your job because you can do it.” 
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