International Women’s Day 2016: Women's achievements should be celebrated every day

Janneke Niessen
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Women from the Inspiring Fifty list rang the opening bell at London Stock Exchange on Friday (Source: Inspiring Fifty)

Last week, there was an incredible buzz around International Women’s Day - which is important to both provide a platform to celebrate the achievements of women globally, and draw attention to the gender issues we face.

At Inspiring Fifty we joined in the celebration by releasing our annual list of the top 50 most inspirational women working in technology across Europe, which included 23 leading business women from the UK.

By showcasing awesome female leaders, we provide role models to inspire young girls and women to build a successful career path in technology. Our ultimate aim is to improve diversity in the tech sector – which like the financial sector has a shameful gender imbalance.

But why does diversity matter? “Because it is 2015” (or, now, 2016). That was the simple answer from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – a true advocate for diversity - as to why he had chosen such a diverse parliament.

And he is right. But if the fact we are in the 21st century is not enough reason, various studies have shown that diverse teams perform better, in every aspect, including financially.

However, currently we’re a long way off the ideal. In the UK specifically, data released last week by Founders4Schools showed the tech sector accounts for 67 per cent women-led businesses in the UK. And women currently only occupy 17 per cent of tech jobs, making up only three per cent of partners in venture capital firms. And fewer than one in 10 of these women are in senior leadership positions in our sector.

With figures like this as our current reality, it’s important we have conversations about women’s achievements and diversity in the broader sense in the workforce every day of the year if we are to really bring about change.

Until women are paid equally for doing the same work as men, and fill the same number of leadership positions as men, we need to address this issue 365 days of the year – because right now 364 of them still belong to men. And that isn’t good enough.

In our industry we need leaders – both male and female - who are vocal about support for diversity to shift company culture and bring real change.

Changes start from within, and even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. By recognising, supporting and celebrating business women of today, together we can show the future generation that success on an equal footing to men is very achievable. Because of course it is.

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