International Women’s Day 2016

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Blog by Miriam González Durántez, Partner at law firm Dechert and Inspiring Women Campaign Champion

Tuesday 8th March marks International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements and contribution of women – but also a day for the debate and reflection. A lot of progress has been made, but parity is still far from being achieved. The World Economic Forum has predicted that it would take us until 2095 to achieve global gender parity, and that the real gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133! Even if we are patient, none of us reading this blog will live long enough to see this! Women and men today have a duty towards the next generations.

That’s why International Women’s Day remains so important, to remind everyone – both men and women – that genuine parity requires action. Action in every single sector and, surely, action in business. Inspiring Women will be debating with the CBI about how business can bring more diversity and help eradicate gender stereotypes. With concrete actions, not just with words.

The huge wealth of untapped female talent makes this a very real issue for business. Women make up half of the population, yet just five chief executives in the FTSE 100 are female – the same number as five years ago. Women and men are 50/50 at the entry level but women drop drastically at the middle management positions. Irrespective of progress elsewhere, and regardless of the sector, business can and should do better.

For this International Women’s Day, I’ll be joined by Jacqui Ferguson, from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Neil Carberry, from the CBI, and our moderator, Sue Cameron, from The Telegraph to take questions from schoolgirls at Morpeth School and Central Foundation Girls School, the business sector, and from the public on twitter about how business can improve its diversity and encourage the next generation of female business leaders.

The Inspiring Women Campaign shows girls that there is no limit to what they can become. Businesses of all shapes and sizes should follow the same approach – by bringing together women at different levels of their careers and by senior business women speaking up. They all need to become visible and speak up so that young women have a credible reference point.

I’ve had the luck of working with the CBI – an organisation I respect and admire – many times before, and as a leading business voice, it’s fantastic that they have made this topic a part of their Great Business Debate. Diversity simply has to be on the agenda when it comes to building public confidence in business. It’s about making sure that businesses understand and meet the needs of the people and the communities they serve, especially, in such a diverse country as the UK.

It’s a debate, so we really want to hear your questions. If you want to ask either myself or any of the other panelists a question then you can tweet the Great Business Debate (@bizdebate) using the hashtag #bizdebate

Follow us at Inspiring Women on @Edu_Employers

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