Eight international offices, seven countries, five languages and one topic – breaking the gender bias. Our teams in Europe and Latin America have all taken some time this week to consider the key themes of this year’s International Women’s Day, including the main theme for this year’s campaign – to #BreakTheBias.
Our teams each held a round-table workshops, with some teams staging two to account for those joining online as well as in our physical offices. Colleagues were asked to reflect on their own experiences of bias against women in their careers and to consider what we can do to #BreakTheBias.
Read a few highlights of our workshops below…
In Ireland, it was refreshing to hear mostly positive comments and stories during our workshop. We discussed the struggles women may face on a construction site and how women overcome these situations. It was great to hear support from both the male and female staff.
Our team in Chile, located more than 11,000 km from Ireland, talked about the importance of challenging sexist behaviour and not becoming ‘silent accomplices’ to discrimination. During this workshop, we also looked at the challenge for women, in general, to stand out and be respected in the traditionally male-dominated construction industry. The workshop ended with optimism that things are improving, with new generations often more aware of and sensitive to gender bias.
Meanwhile, in Spain, we were speaking the same language as in Chile, both literally and metaphorically. We discussed how feminism is a daily job and that men must help in the fight for gender equality. Like in Santiago, we believe things are improving in the industry, step-by-step, through cultural change.
However, we took a different approach in France, by sharing some inspirational quotes from Parisian philosopher and activist, Simone de Beauvoir, as well as actresses Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. We reaffirmed our commitments to inclusiveness and equality, ensuring women and men are always treated fairly and have the same opportunities. We also reminded each other to be aware of and alert to gender bias and discrimination.
In the UK, we talked about experiences earlier in our careers that made us feel uncomfortable, such as inappropriate comments and unreasonable requests that are targeted towards women. We also considered that speaking up may not always be easy if the person showing bias has more power in a given situation and that it can help to speak to an ally, for example a friend or manager. One colleague described how she was shocked when she joined Hyphen, in a good way – that it was great to come to work and not be treated differently as a woman.