International Women’s Day 2020: how 'Each for Equal' resonates with global professionals

Celebrating International Women’s Day, our Think Women event will honour women’s inspiring stories of how they are breaking the mould and making a difference to create a more gender-balanced world.

The theme of International Women's Day 2020 is each for equal.
As the global organisers of International Women’s Day (IWD) remind us, individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. IWD's theme for 2020 is 'Each for Equal' and, collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world. And in many cases, do this with the odds stacked against them.More than 100 guests have attended the last two years’ Relocate Global’s Think Women events. Through informal workshops and lunch, women and men of all backgrounds shared fresh perspectives. The events have proved to be a vital and energising space to share thoughts around how we can support and learn from each other to bring lasting change through collective and individual action. One memorable aspect of these events is how everyone has a voice in telling and shaping their own story of enabling themselves and others across every generation to find personal and professional fulfilment.

Relocate’s Think Women lunch will be held on 6 March at the Institute of Directors, London as part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day. Hear from, and network with, inspiring women and men. Support women and girls to progress in international careers. 

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Take-off to gender balance in aviation

Aviator Carrie Clark will join the workshop speakers this year. Carrie will talk about her journey from plane-obsessed child, to private-pilot license holder and now airline pilot trainee. “I have had a fantastic team of people helping to fund my journey and to break into a male-dominated industry,” she says.“I want to show that young people – regardless of their gender or where they come from – can achieve their dreams of flying. The challenge is that aviation is an expensive and incredibly hard industry to get in to. Less than 3% of pilots worldwide are women, so it is even more important to show young women that aviation is a viable career path for them.”With global skills shortages biting, employers and individuals are thinking differently about how to ensure careers take off. “Transforming the industry is something I feel very passionate about,” says Carrie. “Once I have my airline license, I plan to use my success story to help inspire more young people and girls, in particular, to consider flying as a career.”

Read more about Carrie's inspiring story:

Closing the gap – gender equality and the inclusion imperative

Continuing the 2020 narrative of an equal world is an enabled world – and recognising our individual role in this – CIPD fellow Teresa Boughey and best-selling author of Closing the Gap, will host a workshop on how global companies can celebrate women's achievement, raise awareness against bias and take practical steps towards gender equality within the wider inclusion agenda. Teresa is passionate about helping organisations to create inclusive workplace cultures. "Inclusion is the role and responsibility of everyone at an organisation,” says Teresa, who is also a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women at Work. She has a wealth of experience working with executive boards and leadership teams during times of change, and carved a career for herself as a young single mother to where she is today.Together, achieving personal and organisational goals is about changing hearts and minds - and time: "We have to recognise the brilliance that people have and we’re all different, we don’t do things the same. We need to provide a platform so employees will get recognised for the brilliance that they bring. As opposed to just being shoehorned into the frame that you may have."It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. You have to have resilience. You’re going to have to unpick generations of ingrained behaviours, mindsets, beliefs and organisational structures and working practices. It’s going to take time. It’s also important to say it’s about having zero tolerance – but you can only have zero tolerance if you have set the expectations clear in the first instance."

Read more about Teresa's ideas for creating an inclusive culture at work:

Combining international careers with caring

Personal, as well as organisational, change is equally important, underlining how our own actions and choices make all the difference. This year’s lunch will be an opportunity to share how men and women are treading their own paths and overcoming obstacles to fulfil their personal goals and enable others.Lecturer, communications consultant and campaigner Memuna Forna, who divides her time between Sierra Leone and the UK, spoke to Relocate Global to tell her story about how she combines her professional and personal life across two continents.Balancing work with family life is a key challenge for many women and men with international careers, including for Memuna, who has two children. When her youngest developed chronic, drug-resistant epilepsy at two years old, Memuna spent the next 14 years in and out of hospital, fighting for her daughter's future. “Accepting that I wasn’t going to find a cure for her was probably the hardest decision that I’ve ever made,” says Memuna. “I also realised it was important for me to get back to work. The most important reason is to secure her financial security and I had unmet ambitions of my own. “Sierra Leone is a country that desperately needs the skills and commitment of its citizens, and contributing to my father’s legacy [a highly regarded politician of great integrity and personal courage] in a non-political role, had always been something I aspired to.”
Join us at Think Women on 6 May at the IoD in London to hear more inspiring stories from women in international careers, juggling family responsibilities, starting out or changing direction. Discover how you can make a difference in your organisation, community or to your own career progression.

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Returning to an international career

Reviving a career after 14 years is always tough, but for Memuna in particular. “I needed a job flexible enough to accommodate my daughter’s care and health needs,” she explains. “I was fortunate to be offered some consultancy work for a mining company in Sierra Leone that was building up its CSR profile. The job played entirely to my strengths and interests. “The most difficult thing, for me personally, is that my work calls for me to travel. This means that I work away from my daughter. Leaving her, albeit in the care of her father, is an emotional wrench each time. I am judged harshly for working away from my children – both by people in the UK and in Sierra Leone. “Women, like men, have always had to travel for work. We do what we do for our families, for our personal and professional growth, for our self-respect. I am proud of the contribution that I make to my children's future, to Sierra Leone and to the development of a more collaborative form of communications in emerging Africa.”

Changing track

Ultra-marathon runner and now personal trainer (PT) and PT assessor Jeri Simpson is also forging a pathway to a fulfilling career that enables others while managing her family responsibilities. Her route from realising a childhood ambition to study law, to then fulfil her adulthood dream of inspiring and helping others live healthy and active lives, is motivating on many levels, including around encouraging people to go further than they ever thought possible.“I did my A levels, got to university, did my law degree and the conversion course afterwards. But I just found it hideously boring,” reflects Jeri. “I suppose I was quite mature even then to ask myself ‘Is this really what I want with the rest of my life?’“From being so career-minded throughout school, obviously that decision upset the boat a bit. Suddenly I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I tried all sorts of jobs, including sales and marketing, without knowing what I wanted to do with my life.”
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By this point, Jeri had a young family and the pressures many women find that puts on their working lives. It was through running that Jeri ultimately found the answer to that question.“For me, it was a natural progression to turn my hobby and release into a career,” explains Jeri. But it was an injury that proved to be the breakthrough. “I came back from a broken leg. Recovering from that required me to be even stronger and made me determined to train to become a PT to give something back and to empower others in the way I felt fitness and running had inspired me.”Offering advice to her younger self, Jeri is clear that she wouldn’t change anything, as it has made her who she is. However, she would advise her younger self to give 100% to everything, to try everything and not be scared. “I didn’t enjoy PE at school,” says Jeri. “I liked some of it, but I didn’t see it as something for me because all the popular girls were good at it. I kind of shied away from it. But now I’d say to myself to give it a try: if you don’t like it, don’t sweat it and try something else.”

Be comfortable to pivot

With change and disruption a constant, one key challenge – particularly for women – is how to build longevity in a career. US-based business consultant Susan Ginsberg has done just this over her 40-year working life. Starting with a managerial retail role that necessitated one week per month based away from home, Susan then raised a young family with a position in global mobility at a spousal support and relocation company. From here, she transitioned to applying the lessons learned from her experiences in each realm to set up her own consultancy, where she now helps businesses set out strategies in an uncertain world.On the pivot from retail to relocation and now business consultancy, Susan reflects, “I realised that I’d curated enough wisdom over the past 30 years to enable businesses and individuals to achieve their goals. This is about creating a comfortable environment where people feel safe taking risks, being themselves and creative.“For me, this is about getting to know your audience, pivoting and flexing to best understand them and to communicate in a way that you are going to be heard.”

Empowering others

Ann Ellis, co-founder of global expansion experts and global business services provider Mauve and speaker at Relocate Global's International Women's Day event, also shares her inspirational story. For Ann, success comes down to realising self-worth and enabling others - both of which resonate strongly with this year's core IWD theme. "I have been incredibly lucky in my career, and I’ve been presented with opportunities that many aren’t."I had to learn to be fearless and seize the opportunities as they arose – most paid off, some didn’t, but I kept striving and I genuinely have loved every minute."I think it’s so important that women develop the confidence to realise their self-worth and take risks on the chances they encounter. I want to share my life experiences in the hope of empowering other women to tap into that confidence and achieve their own growth, in business or otherwise.”

The difference is you

Linking these encouraging personal stories to the bigger IWD picture, it is collective action and shared ownership for enabling equality of opportunity that make IWD successful. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist wrote, "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." So, ask yourself: how are you going to make IWD your day and what are going to do to truly make a positive difference for all?

Think Women International Womens Day
Think Women lunch will be held on 6 March at the Institute of Directors, London as part of the celebrations for International Women’s Day. Hear from, and network with, inspiring women and men. Support women and girls to progress in international careers. 

Relocate Think Women Networking Event Book Eventbrite

Similar Think Women events will be held in EMEA, APAC and the Americas later in the year and virtually. Contact us at to find out how you can be involved in your area.

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