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Celebrating international women's day with Morison Global
9 March 2022
On 8th March 2022, International Women’s Day, my Fortus colleagues and I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two attendee-packed celebratory events hosted by our international network, Morison Global.
We’re incredibly proud to be a part of the Morison Global community. They’re now the 6th largest global association of leading professional service firms, providing cross-border accounting, auditing, tax and consulting needs of business owners.
Through representing Morison Global, we collaborate on many exciting projects that bring considerable value to our respective firms. International Women’s Day, with a #BreaktheBias theme for 2022, being one of many.
The celebratory sessions opened with a joyous ‘Happy International Women’s Day!’ as we were welcomed by the Morison Global team and panellists. Myself and several colleagues were poised, ready to hear great words of wisdom from some incredibly talented and empowering women leaders from around the world.
During the morning session we learned when and where International Women’s Day originated. Interestingly the movement came about during the early 20th century but didn’t become a recognised, mainsteam holiday until 1977. Nowadays, it’s very much centered on a celebration of womanhood.
Then came the open discussion with attendees sharing their personal and professional experiences, including times when they’ve come across bias at home or in work. Though we were time differences and screens apart, it was clear everyone felt comfortable opening up (myself included!)
There were so many takeaways from the morning session, but here’s my summary:
- There’s generational differences to be aware of. What was once the ‘norm’ for our grandparents, isn’t necessary the norm today. People hold their own values and beliefs which we need to be considerate of.
- Saying ‘no’ can be just as empowering as saying ‘yes’. There’s sometimes a pressure for women to feel they need to ‘step up’ and agree to absolutely everything to get to the same level as their male counterparts. You don’t need to master everything – trust people to help you, delegate where you need to.
- Female entrepreneurs have thrived during the pandemic. They’ve reorganised their time to work hard behind the scenes to bring their ambitions to life.
- Many people working from home have spent their time wisely and become more efficient in getting the job done. They’ve had more time to focus on what really matters too.
- Working from home has meant women (and men) are less visible, but they’ve shown they’re able to equip themselves with the tools and confidence they need to make their voices heard and their efforts seen.
- We shouldn’t feel pressured to achieve certain things by a certain time in our life. Having children, getting married, achieving leadership status by ‘date’ or ‘age’. It should happen when it feels right for you. Sometimes it just happens naturally.
- Seek mentorship. Be open to being mentored.
- Try your best to not be influenced by bias and be YOU.
After the morning session, it was back to the desk to continue with Fortus’ own International Women’s Day celebrations. LinkedIn came alive with our team’s personal #BreaktheBias pledges and crossed arm ‘power poses’ – take a look at them here.
2.30pm. Joined the Morison Global community once again to hear from even more inspirational women. This time a panel event facilitated by the wonderful Lindsay Stevenson, Chief Transformation Officer at BPM LLP and Chair of the AICPA Women’s Initiative Executive Committee. She’s a huge advocate for promoting the success of women in their respective professions and her passion was contagious.
The female leader panellists from various member organisations around the world shared some amazing insight and views. Many of them had worked their way up through the ranks to be where they are today, but getting there wasn’t easy and some have experienced bias first-hand.
What key advice did the panel share?
- There’s often an unwritten, unconscious bias that women can’t be leaders but in fact, we’ve earned and retained our place at ‘the table’. There’s still work to be done but if we distinguish ourselves as a person of great value, then it will certainly pay off.
- Career-focused mothers wearing multiple hats can find it hard to balance priorities. We all need professional women to look up to and learn from – those who have achieved balance, but we also need support from the companies we work for to achieve that balance.
- Have an honest conversation with yourself about what’s right for you. Be happy with what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
- Focus on being a good HUMAN being. Not a good woman or good man.
- Be the inspiration for younger, up and coming accountants, leaders and professionals.
- It can feel intimidating to speak up as you feel so exposed, but it’s important we challenge inappropriate behaviour when we see it – whether it’s happening to us or someone else.
- We talk about working from home being good for women in terms of flexibility, but what about the benefits it brings to our male colleagues too?
- Everyone has a responsibility to work towards achieving an equal playing field for all.
My favourite quote from Lindsay was ‘Choose your own adventure’. She commented that there’s lots of opportunity opening up for women working in professional services. It’s up to you to make the most of those opportunities and stand up for what you believe in, and what you want to achieve.
be your own cheerleader!
Another point that resonated was from Maria Villamar of Acofi based in Guatemala. She mentioned she isn’t an accountant so for her, being listened to has been a challenge in the past. Maria said, “I’m learning to use my voice even though I don’t know everything.” For me that’s incredibly powerful. We might not have all the answers, but we can learn and we can be open to learning. It helps if you’re surrounded by a supportive team too (Hello team Fortus!)
Rounding up the empowering afternoon session, panellist Tyna Adediran of Pedabo, Nigeria shared three parting nuggets of wisdom:
Be self-aware – know your weaknesses and learn how to better yourself.
Seek mentorship – add to your employability skills and real world experiences.
Be teachable – if you’re open to ways of working and open to suggesting new ways of working, you’re adaptable and that makes you massively invaluable to any organisation.
Following the day’s events, I caught up with some of the Fortus team to get their thoughts and feedback.
“It was fantastic to hear from so many inspirational women in leadership positions and the advice they gave was really insightful. The comments that resonated with me were about how important is it to have executive boards that are diverse and are more reflective of the make-up of the business or organisation they represent.”
“I’d say one of the main takeaways for me was how inspiring the movement within workplaces over recent years has been.”
“Morison Global’s International Women’s Day event was definitely inspiring. I do feel things are slowly changing already and love the fact that now I’m working for Fortus they promote these type of events and encourage everyone to get involved.
“I was surprised to see that men also attended the event as I imagined they wouldn’t. It would’ve been refreshing to see a man/director on the panel and hear their perspective also.
That said, it was nice to see that the men who did attend were the ones at the end of the discussion who commented ‘everyone has a mother’ and also shared their experiences with regard to the #BreaktheBias theme.
“I loved the fact that women from all over the world shared experiences and absolutely encouraged me to aim higher.”