To mark International Women’s Month, we celebrated on International Women's Day via social media and with a staff quiz. We also invited people working at the BSB to offer their “Thoughts from the BSB on International Women’s Month.”
"My first job was as a trainee accountant in one of the largest global accountancy firms. My Mum was hugely proud of my educational achievements that had got me there. She had left school to go into work because further education was not considered an option for women like her. She was then expected to give up work when she got married. I often felt her skills were underused, but she spent her life on a mission to self-educate and had a national leadership role in the Townswomen's Guild movement which, since its foundation in 1929, has campaigned across many issues relating to social injustice. She was a role model for me as a strong and determined woman.
In the accounting firm that I joined, all the partners were men, and a female colleague was sent home for daring to wear trousers to work. Hard to imagine now, but it is not so long ago. There were rumours of one female partner in the tax team, because for some reason that I can’t remember, it was considered a more female friendly practice area.
I then went to work in financial services. There were no women in the executive team of the London operations where I worked. I used my female networks - my close school friends who had emerged from our single sex education full of hope and ambition. We still have a strong and supportive bond that has carried us through our respective career highs and lows. I joined an inspirational networking group of women in the City of London - bankers, accountants, fund managers, political leaders. Amazing women filled the room and shared their insights into success in the male dominated world we spent our days in.
Then I became a mother. My decision to work part time went down badly and I left employment, NDA in hand, to take on a "portfolio career" that gave me the flexibility I wanted. I found myself surrounded by high achieving women who were taking time out of successful careers to raise children, but who were channelling their work skills into community projects. I worked with some amazing, creative teams of women at that time, who delivered important projects that helped build resilient and sustainable communities.
At that time, I started seeing a change in the workplace as I took up non-executive board roles. The targets initiated by the FTSE companies at the turn of the millennium, and the wider debate, were starting to result in more gender equality in boardrooms.
When I started work at the BSB in 2014, though, I really wanted to work part time as my son was still at school. But the recruitment agent told me in no uncertain terms that I should not risk asking. It was a full-time job and not up for negotiation, he said. Instead, I asked to work from home for part of the week. That was met with a sharp intake of breath, and it was clear that it was not something the BSB was prepared to formalise. I'm pleased to say that has changed; two of our directors now work four days a week (condensed hours), some people in my team have flexible working days and we all have the flexibility to work from home. These are arrangements that women over the decades have campaigned for, but which benefit everyone in different ways, including employers that recognise the business benefits of a diverse, inclusive and talented workforce."
International Women's Month Testimonial - Julia Witting, Head of Supervision, BSB