We had a stellar panel discussion with expert communicator Theresa Lowe moderating who, through Theresa Lowe Communications, brought her 30 years of media expertise to the panel. Senator Joan Freeman and founder of Pieta House spoke passionately about helping others, Iseult Ward the co-founder of FoodCloud expressed the importance of confidence, and Olivia McEvoy Director of Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Services at EY explained some of the data behind diversity.
There were so many key take-aways from the evening that we would love to share but here are five of our favourites.
1. Make a difference everyday
Senator Joan Freeman has done an extraordinary amount through her work with Pieta House, and has certainly made a difference. She encouraged others to do the same, this doesn't have to be setting up campaigns or creating charities, small things can too make a difference. She urged all attendees to make a difference every day. It doesn't have to be a life-altering idea, just be warm and welcome to people, from helping someone out to chatting to a lonely stranger. We all have the power to make an impact on others on a daily basis.
2. Gender eqality is not only fair and right, it's also good for business
Olivia McEvoy explained the importance of tracking data with regards to diversity. The crowd let out a gasp when she said that for every 1% increase in gender equality there is a 6% increase in revenue. Gender disparity is not only unfair and unjust, but it is also detrimental to business. Olivia also shared a frightening statistic that if nothing is changed, the gender pay gap will take 170 years to close. That's International Women's Day 2186 - a long wait.
Olivia believes that we need to become more evidence based in diversity and inclusion.
3. Confidence is key
Iseult Ward of FoodCloud is one of Forbes' 30 under 30 - but she never saw herself there. She urged other women to have the confidence to think big, to ignore barriers and to not ever say "thats not me" or "I cant do it". Finding something you believe in and that you're passionate about removes any obstacles in the way. At FoodCloud they believed that they could solve a problem. When asked what are the traits that helped Iseult succeed she answered "Naivety and stubbornness!"
4. Believe in you
Starting something new can be tough whether it is a new business, a charity, a new role. Belief in yourself is vital but it also helps to surround yourself with a supportive network. Joan Freeman spoke about starting Pieta House, "When you're starting off something you just need somebody to believe in you". When the one man in the room spoke up, Fionán O'Sullivan
from Acumen and Trust
explained that we are all part of the one team.
5. Businesses need to put the pressure on
Olivia McEvoy spoke about quotas, which sparked one attendee to raise a valid point, that quotas only work when there are policies in place to support them. Gender quotas work well in Sweden, but they have great childcare support in place also. The panel believes that businesses need to put pressure on government and policy makers to support gender equality and to transform the world of work. Businesses need to look to the future and create supportive, flexible workplaces.