What is International Women’s Day?
Happy International Women’s Day 2021!
Each year on March 8th, the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally are celebrated. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.
This theme of the day this year is ‘Choose to Challenge‘ which means that from challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge the gender bias and inequality we see in the world. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. That is why every day this week we have highlighted a valued and inspirational woman who is part of the Contra Vision team.
Meet Helen Beresford Jay
Q. Can you tell me a bit about your career history before you began working for Contra Vision?
A. My first job was working as a sales assistant in a department store. I then applied for the police force but the grip test defeated me and I withdrew my application. I stumbled into the print industry by chance after a knee injury. I was only supposed to cover for 2 weeks and ended up staying for 7 years, learning the ins and out of adobe illustrator, photoshop and my beloved Mimaki JV33!
Q. How long have you worked for and what is your role at Contra Vision?
A. I have worked for Contra Vision since 2012 and I am currently the Marketing Manager looking after Brand and Design. I was previously in charge of UK sales.
Q. Have you ever felt held back in your career or you have not been given certain opportunities because of your gender?
I have never felt held back in my career. My first job in the print industry was 90% male but I saw that as an advantage. Within Contra Vision is its pretty much equal and everyone is treated the same.
Q. What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and in work?
There’s a lot more highly knowledgeable women in the print industry than there was in 2012.
Q. Why do we need women in leadership positions?
The same question should be asked as to why do we need men in leadership positions? Gender shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader. Everyone has their own skillset, anyone can lead and equally contribute to the successful running of a business.
Q. How do you feel men in your life and in workplaces can contribute more to women’s empowerment?
A. Just as Sarah pointed out external meetings with a male colleague on occasions have been difficult as often people have assumed that the male is more senior and would direct questions at them. The same goes for Trade Shows, often I was mistaken for ‘hired help’ when I was the UK sales manager and visitors would wait to speak to one of male colleagues. I once got a ‘what do you know about printing’ question which resulted in an apology as the conversation progressed. That felt good but it’s clear gender stereotypes need to be addressed and corrected.
Q. Do you have any words of wisdom for women at the start of their careers?
A. Your career isn’t set in stone. If you decide one day you want to do something else then go for it. Be you and be confident.