Fighting for change

Written by, Ilona Alcock, Director and co-founder of Elevate, a Manchester-based business development consultancy.

I want to love International Women’s Day. I really do.

Unfortunately, I see too many self-congratulatory posts about how far we’ve come. Too many awkward posed photos of women hugging themselves… #EmbraceEquity.

I’m all for embracing equity but honestly? I want to see everyone fight for equity first.

Let’s look at a few recent examples. A police detective torn apart for her “skin-tight dress and poker-straight hair”. The gracious resignation of a world leader held as proof “women can’t have it all”. A woman and young girl’s murder blamed on her professional success. And that’s before we even mention the Met Police.

Looking outside the UK, it’s even more bleak. The overturning of Roe v Wade, undoing years of progress for reproductive rights. The resurgence of the Tailban. Over 600 protesters killed in Iran.

Misogynistic language is everywhere. We might rail against *that* Jeremy Clarkson article, but where is the outrage for all the daily slurs, the double standards, the “bantz” we’re just supposed to accept? I was told I only secured a job because the man who interviewed me liked large breasts. I’ve been harassed in the street since the age of 12. I plan every route for safety, not convenience.

As a woman, I’m consistently both too much and not enough. I’m held to a different standard from my male counterparts in business and in my personal life. If it’s this bad for me – a straight white middle class cis woman – how much worse is it for those who don’t have the same privileges?

All of which means IWD can become pretty depressing. It’s a reminder of just how much work there is left to do.

I’m a firm believer though that we can fight for change and that the first step is making sure everyone has a voice. It cannot be right that in 2023 the standard expert voice is always a white man, or to host panels of all men, or only feature men in articles in the media.

It’s why I’m so proud of my business partner for coming up with Elevate The Conversation. It’s a great initiative to create a diverse list of speakers to share with media and events organisers, and will help to ensure we hear all perspectives on an issue, not just middle aged white men. We’re committed to working harder to change this, anyone can make a nomination for brilliant speakers who are experts in their field, but don’t yet have the platform they deserve through the ‘Elevate the Conversation’ platform here.

We might not be quite ready to give ourselves a hug for a job well done yet, but surely we can at least agree it’s time to leave manels in the past?