Today is International Women’s Day and the focus is on “Balance for Better”. A call for, ‘the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …’

I don’t know about you but on such days I’m enthused and committed but also left wondering what I can do, at a personal level, to contribute to this agenda. It feels big, it feels like I need to be in a position of influence to drive it forward and that doesn’t feel like me.

A shouty voice in my head is saying, even as I write, who are you to think you can make a difference, that you have something to say about this, something to share?’ Do you have that feeling? But then a quieter more persistent inner voice says, ‘hang on a minute, of course you have a voice, use it. You have something you want to say so say it.

It is so easy to underestimate our sphere of influence, under value our contribution and stifle the things we want to say. There are so many ways in which, we as women can support each other and today on International Women’s Day I’m thinking about the concept of paying it forward. The idea that when someone does something for you instead of repaying them to repay someone else – you pay it forward.

One thing we know for sure, in working towards gender balance, is the importance of having role models. Women who have broken the barriers, navigated the terrain and paved the way for others to follow. Women who show us that it is possible.

Role back their careers and I bet you there will have been other women who supported them on their journey. I’m not thinking here about the formal mentors or coaches they may have accessed but the women who gave freely of their time, shared contacts and opened doors. The women who believed in their aspirations and cheered them on their way. Those who ‘payed it forward’. Women who recognised the support, time, advice someone had given them and instead of repaying them did the same for someone else, who payed it forward.

On International Women’s Day this feels like something we can all subscribe to. Wherever we are in our career and whether we see ourselves as being a role model or not we all have the ability to pay it forward for other women. There are so many ways in which each and everyone of us can make a commit to this. I’m thinking about the way we go about our day to day work, the conversations we have and the opportunities that come our way each and every day.

When a colleague shares an aspiration taking time to listen and encouraging them. Sharing information or contacts you may have that will support her in moving forward. Putting her in touch with like minded people. Offer some of your time/expertise to read a CV, something she has written. Encouraging her to take up a new interest she’s been longing to do. Taking a few moments out of your day to repay all the women who have given freely of their time to get you where you are today.

Today is a good day to reflect on the women who have supported each and everyone of us and to commit to doing the same for other women when the opportunity arises.

Happy International Women’s Day

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