International Women’s Day — Taking Action from where you stand.

Katherine Ann Byam
Harnessing the Courage to lead
6 min readMar 8, 2021

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It’s 2021, and we’ve come a long way toward closing the gap between women and men in the workplace. According to the PWC women in work index, looking at the statistics for OECD member countries, Iceland, Sweden and New Zealand top the rankings, with the US declining relative to other countries on the metrics used; pay gap, labour force participation rate, unemployment rates and female board representation.

Yet Covid 19 continues to have a material impact on women as jobs in the service sector have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, roles which are more heavily skewed to women.

According to PWC, at our current rates of closing the gap, this is what we have to look forward to:

It will take women 22 years to catch up to men on labour force participation, 112 years to close the gender pay gap, 60 years to close the full time employment gap.

These statistics do not cover our entire world, and we know that in many cultures and societies there remains significant work to do.

I reflect on my position of privilege, being able to start my own business and live completely to standards I set for myself. As a black female entrepreneur though, I do feel a sense of responsibility to open more doors, for more women like me to make a greater impact.

As we move forward, there is broader consensus that the challenges we face are far more interconnected, complex and rapidly evolving, going way beyond gender inequality. The UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals lists global priorities to solve with a 2030 target, and gender equality is listed as goal number 5. These priorities demonstrate that we need a greater level of participation, representation and cooperation, if we are to achieve these stretching goals, which include our efforts to slow climate change, reduce resource consumption, improve the quality of life and maintain some balance between the effects of human civilisation on the earth’s bio diversity.

Today however, we celebrate the voices of the men and women working toward the changes that will make the biggest differences to future generations.

I asked my network to share with me quotes that have inspired them on their journeys to champion change, and to be represented. Here’s what they had to share.

Marina Tran-Vu : Founder & CEO EQUO International

Never apologize for being yourself. Women will always get judged for being “too much” of something… too emotional, too bossy, too bubbly. Rather than cater to the boundaries and norms of what people expect, be the best version of you that you can be and be proud of that.

Neha Misra — Founder & CEO The Fin Lit Project

I am still inspired by the words of one of India’s greatest sons. ‘Be the change you’d like to see in the world” — Mahatma Gandhi

Melissa Carson — Founder & CEO Crim Dell Consulting — Executive Coach and Talent Strategist

We’re all human…we all fail, we all love, we all have successes, we all want the best for the people we care for. If we all want the same basic things, we should help each other. A good life is not a fixed size…there’s plenty to go around.

Casandra Patrovani — Publisher, Entrepreneur, Change Agent.

The words I live by that foster equity and diversity in my business affairs are written in ‘Desiderata’. They are simple words that remind me to live fully in the present and acknowledge the efforts of everyone.

Everywhere life is full of heroism. Simple acts of heroism make life great.

The gift of a day off for an employee to spend time with their loved ones, or themselves.

Taking a single Mum or Dad to lunch just for them to exhale and be served for a change.

A basket of fruit to say “I appreciate you.”

Pausing to authentically say: “I hear you.”

Stacey S Ali — MCIPD — Head of HR Business, The Trinity Group of Companies, Caribbean Region

“Working in a male dominated environment where women make up only 5% of the workforce, I tell myself everyday, you can be strong and feminine simultaneously. Often times, this combination is more powerful than you can imagine.”

Neema Amin — Founder of The Escape Strategist. Co-Founder of Collectively Driven

“Our deep-rooted cultural inequalities will only change when women challenge women in their own circle to rise up, be visible, be vocal and stop accepting tradition as an acceptable reason for inequality and bias — be the frontline of change for the next generation of girls.”

Sarah Breeze — Sustainability Copywriter & Content Marketing Strategist

“It’s important to remember that, when we’re out there non- aggressively working for reform, that, even if our particular issue doesn’t get resolved, we are adding peace to the world. We have to do our best and at the same time give up all hope of fruition.” Pema Chodron. Of course I want to see progress happen, but I can’t control the outcome. I can only control what I do and how I respond to the outcome.

Felicio Ferraz — Cluster CEO and Managing Director

“I’d rather a high single digital sustainable yearly growth than a double-digit short term result!” — We need to and must do better advancing a longer term perspective on our actions

Sarah Herbert — Divisional Head of Nursing — University Hospital Southampton NHS FT

Take every opportunity that presents itself. Don’t be afraid to be strong, kind and compassionate as a leader but most importantly authentic…

Patrice Gray — Regional Head of Controllership

“Why not?” Whenever faced with a challenge or opportunity. Asking yourself this you realize 90% of the time there is no reason not to take an opportunity or take the action to beat the adversity and realize your potential. Next quote is “ What if?” What If you are successful? What if you inspire others? What if you become an even better version of yourself? What if in some way you make it better for someone else?

Malika Sqalli — Artist, Photographer, Sky Diver.

“ We are made of Atoms, ideas and stories , for if we don’t act tangibly o our ideas they don’t become stories ‘’

As we are made of atoms, in our carnal condition on earth with all what that entails from nurture to challenges.

Ideas and stories are the engine and the output, since through ideas that are the fruits of various questions answered and connected, and the actions we take that end up weaving stories between us and other human beings and our dealing with this planet.

This whole is the cocktail or chemical reaction for life lived through its potential. If we forget that we are carnal beings on the planet, and our connectedness , we end up destroying rather than creating.

Tony McCormick — Head of Manufacturing

“Define the problem before you start solving it” A constant reminder that it helps us to be led by the data, and a common view of what we are trying to solve.

Nirala Singh — Head of Record to Report

I think upon this day with deep thought and reflection. Is the path easier for women than it was yesterday? I truly believe yes. The higher we climb and stretch toward the glass ceiling I encourage all of us — women and men, to look around. What is my role to make it easier for the next female behind me. Inspiration comes in many forms. A kind word. Mentorship. Showing up as your true self. Inspire someone today so that their journey maybe easier.

Katherine Ann Byam — Founder & CEO Dieple, Sustainability Strategist & Career Coach

“Our mission and meaning should be derived from what we do every day. In this way, we transcend the notion of work, and evolve it, into purpose, passion, self direction with a collective outcome in mind”

What’s your moving quote, that helps you to take action and make a difference from where you stand?

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Katherine Ann Byam
Harnessing the Courage to lead

Author, activist, coach and consultant for innovation and sustainable change. She’s the founder of Dieple Consulting & Where Ideas Launch.