For International Women's Day 2021, we sat down with four leaders across a range of our departments to get their insights and opinions on what the day means for them. From the path to equality in the workplace to sharing in the successes of other women, we discuss what being a woman means to them in 2021.
Let’s introduce our panel.
Since starting here in September 2019, Katherine Jackson, Senior Legal Counsel, has used her expert knowledge to deal with the everyday legal issues we may be faced with. Whether it's commercial law or dealing with disputes and litigation, Katherine is involved in all areas of the business, dealing with every level of stakeholder along the way.
Having worked with us for 10 years, our Operations Manager for Billing Services, Amy Roberts, has become a dedicated leader. Spending a decade building up her operations skills, she thrives in an environment that involves leading our Billing, Gas Read Management and Commissions Teams.
The Head of Credit & Collections, Sharon Noland, has worked with us for five years and also heads up our UK Collections Department. Commenting on her work, Sharon said: "Gazprom Energy is a real authentic place to work - I really enjoy the entrepreneurial spirit, the people I work with all share the same vision.”
Joining us 10 years ago, having previously led our Legal and Regulatory teams, Grace Rothery has since become Head of UK Business. Responsible for the full UK customer journey, from marketing and sales to metering, billing, and renewal, Grace sees her role as an opportunity to constantly learn.
Katherine: "As a female lawyer, it reminds me of how far women have come in the last century. Back in 2019, the year marked 100 years since women were permitted to join the legal profession; at one time, women weren't allowed to own property or enter into legal contracts, let alone draft one!"
Amy: "International Women’s Day is a chance to reflect on how much progress has been made already, as well as how far we still must go to ensure that there is gender equality in the workplace. I read recently that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one in four women are considering downshifting their careers due to increasing workplace and home pressures, which highlights just how important it is that we continue to make progress.”
Sharon: "It brings awareness to help build a gender-equal world and to celebrate women’s achievements and increasing visibility. It’s an important event which highlights how important it is to continue to build positive change for women globally.”
Grace: "For me, International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the amazing women in my life – my family, my friends, and my colleagues. As a senior business leader, it's also time to reflect on how we’re progressing towards gender equality in the workplace; celebrate how far we’ve come and commit to challenging the areas where we still have more to do.”
Katherine: "There has been a lot of progress made in recent years. For example, in 2018 the government implemented compulsory gender pay gap reporting, which requires firms to publish the average gap in earnings between men and women. However, it's quite surprising to see that a lot of these changes did not happen all that long ago.
"I see the main challenge for women now as not so much the barriers to get into professions such as law, but rather to be able to rise to and stay at the top. Issues of childcare and flexibility need to be addressed as this can hold women back. Luckily, many companies are now committed to and are embracing flexibility and agile working and I hope this progress may continue.”
Grace: "I do think we are moving in the right direction, but there is undoubtedly more we can do. I believe one of the key enablers to achieving workplace equality is actually related to how we can support men to shoulder more of the family household burden – especially when it comes to childcare.
"We also need to be mindful of the effect that COVID-19 has had; it's reported that gender equality may have suffered, with women more likely to lose work and having to take responsibility for childcare during the pandemic. But there are also glimmers of hope; if flexible working becomes the norm then it is possible that men will look to take this up to support in the home too.”
Grace: "I’m very fortunate in being able to say that I don’t frequently experience gender inequality or bias in the workplace. However, I’m very aware of the importance of supporting other women, both in and outside Gazprom Energy, to tackle any challenges they may face in this area.
“I do this through mentoring – both formally and informally – which is a great way to support other women and to learn from them too. I highly recommend seeking out a supportive mentor to anyone who is faced with challenges around inequality in the workplace; it's so important to have a network to lean on when issues arise.”
Katherine: "I'd be lying if I said that I have never felt judgements being made about me as a female lawyer. There can be assumptions that a female lawyer may be too soft to manage an aggressive negotiation or complex litigation.
“Luckily, I went to an all-girls school where I was taught to never let anyone or anything hold you back just because you are a woman. I like to think that advice has allowed me to prove such assumptions wrong.
"My advice to women looking to call out inequalities in the workplace is to not be afraid to speak up and to challenge. By actively countering conscious or unconscious bias, presumptions, or negative treatment, you will become a champion for change.
“As G.D. Anderson said “feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength”.”
Amy: "My biggest achievements are my two children, Arlo and Evelyn. I learn so much from them daily. Having recently returned to work after maternity leave, I can honestly say that some parenting skills are relevant in the workplace.
“I am now an expert multi-tasker and negotiator (primarily over how many sweets can be eaten at once), which has helped me be more efficient in my role.
"My biggest accomplishment is balancing both my career and family life, giving my best in both areas. It's really important to me that I set an example to my children that having a family doesn’t mean sacrificing your career, and equality is just as important at home as it is in the workplace.”
Sharon: "There are lots of examples of female colleagues I see doing things on a daily basis that are amazing. So many parents have had to juggle work and home during the pandemic. I think they are all superheroes and should be proud of how they have navigated a very tricky 12 months.”
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Amy: "In recent years there has been more focus on issues such as gender equality which all helps to raise awareness. Celebrating International Women’s Day is a great example of that.
“We have seen more women in leadership roles, not only at Gazprom Energy but everywhere. There is more being done to empower young women, and the work that Grace and Sharon have done in this area is an inspiration to others.”
Sharon: "My all-time favourite women would be my mum and my sister – we're really close as a family.
"I follow Harriet Green on LinkedIn and I really like her ethos around creating environments of inclusion and building cultures that embrace learning and reinvention.
"Jane Keynon is another woman I greatly admire. She's the founder of the Girls Out Loud charity, which helps to empower girls by inspiring them to think big and make better life choices. She is very honest and authentic, and I love that about her.”
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