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 are highlighting a valued and inspirational woman who is part of the Contra Vision team.
Meet Sarah Byrne
Q. Can you tell me a bit about your career history before you began working for Contra Vision?
A. I studied Primary Education at University but decided to not go in to teaching and instead took an administrative assistant role at a DIY company head office while I decided what I wanted to do.
I really enjoyed working with suppliers, looking at how stock was selling etc and decided to go into Merchandising and Supply Chain from there. In the past 15 years I have been lucky enough to work for some big brands such as The Very Group, Royal Doulton and Pentland Brands.
Q. How long have you worked for and what is your role at Contra Vision?
A. I have worked at Contra Vision for just over 2 years as the Head of Supply Chain and Customer Service.
Q. Have you ever felt held back in your career or you have not been given certain opportunities because of your gender?
A. There have been times in my career where opportunities have been given to male colleagues ahead of myself and other female team members with no explanation from management.
Q. What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and in work?
A. In an early job role, I was excluded from an idea’s session because of my gender as the subject matter was DIY based and therefore only male opinions were required. I was told that my suggestions would just be to make things pink and fluffy; I still don’t think there would be anything wrong with a pink sparkly drill! I do not think this would happen now, certainly at Contra Vision my opinion is seen to be just as valid as any of my male colleagues.
Earlier in my career it would always be the case that the female in a meeting would be asked to go and get the drinks for any visitors, even if she was more senior than others in the room. This is something I hope doesn’t happen anymore.
Q. Why do we need women in leadership positions?
A. The best leadership teams are diverse and include different skill sets. Women can bring different aspects to leadership roles that benefit the companies they work for. I feel that female leaders can be excellent role models for other women in the workplace.
Q. How do you feel men in your life and in workplaces can contribute more to women’s empowerment?
A. If I attend an external meeting with a male colleague, it is still often the case that it will be assumed that they are the more senior person or the decision maker and questions/answered will be addressed to them instead of me. It would be nice if men saw this and corrected the behavior.
I would also like to see some of the language challenged. A confident woman is often “bossy” while a man is seen as “assertive”. Men are “passionate” while women are “emotional”.
Q. Do you have any words of wisdom for women at the start of their careers?
A. Go for what you want. Be confident and be yourself. Ask lots of questions, even the ones you think sound stupid, it is the best way to learn.