Celebrating International Women’s Day


By Jane Sparrow

It’s International Women’s Day so we are taking a moment to celebrate women everywhere. Over a tough year, the stories of the many women who’ve continued to play their part and inspire others, leaving a positive impact on the communities and nations around them, have been widespread. 

And let’s not forget the many inspirational women, from all walks of life and global locations, that are part of our network and reading this right now. It’s a pleasure to work alongside you. A call out also to everyone that champions equality, diversity and supporting talent everywhere, regardless of gender. Thank you, your role is vital.

Making inclusion a cornerstone of the agenda

Inclusion and championing women everywhere has been a staple of our organisational agenda since conception and we live this through our message, our network, our women’s afternoon teas across the country (continued virtually through lockdown!) and more. We’ve uploaded three brand new podcast episodes from inspirational women to mark #IWD.

Hilary Wells – Keeping an eye on the talent ball

Diana Jupp – Leadership in the charitable sector

Selina Hales – Working with purpose at the heart of culture

The women who inspire us

We also want to share some stories of the women who have inspired us. We loved sharing these stories with each other and if you can get your team together to talk about those who have inspired you, it’s a great conversation.

Jane: There are so many women that have inspired and helped me grow during the years so it’s difficult to single out just one. It was a wonderful exercise to create a list of those that have had an impact on me professionally and personally. I gave each name a number,  then asked my daughter to pick a number so I could feature just one. But, she reminded me of the story that she’d told me that I often refer to – Yusra Mardini from Syria that had made the journey to Germany, saved her fellow travellers and become an Olympic swimmer – a story that reflects so many values that I hold dear. So, instead, I’m picking Yusra to celebrate. We then talked about my wonderful Mum and her positive impact on both of us that is beyond words. She has been an inspiration and strength in every chapter of my journey. Thank you to all the women in my life –  all help me grow, enjoy everyday and give to others.

Chris: I can only begin to imagine how Rosa Parks felt on that bus, when she refused to change seats. She said ‘nah’ because she felt it wasn’t fair, and that must have taken a colossal amount of bravery. I wish I had half that courage.

Owen: I wanted to choose someone famous for this, but in the end I had to go with a former boss of mine, Heather Sim. She taught me so much about myself, and how to unlock potential in other people. She never told me what to do, always paused me, and asked questions to help me think differently, to think deeper. Then, when the time came that she wanted to step away from the charity she’d created, she did so with a poise, grace and dignity I don’t think I’ll ever be able to emulate, all while helping me and my colleagues step up in her wake.

Anna: What does it mean to inspire? For me, it means to love selflessly without judgement, to empower and nurture others and to put yourself out there even when you’re scared, so that others can learn from your story. There’s a woman who embodies all of this for me – in the way she connects, the spirit she embodies and the quiet way she makes her support visible. She knows suffering yet she brightens every room, she is one who is so wise yet she’s a lifelong learner, she seeks out and hears the voice of everyone from every corner. She’s a total legend and she’s called Pam August

Jo: I think that the woman who has most inspired me is Sojourner Truth. Born into slavery in New York, she escaped with her infant daughter in 1826, having already ‘lost’ her son to her master as he was seen as plantation property. She later went to court to recover her son and, in 1828, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

Shona: For me, I had the pleasure of getting to know a wonderful woman by the name of Dawn Flockhart who I met when she was my NLP Master Practitioner in 2009.  She was a true angel on earth, a free spirit which radiated energy and a beautiful soul. Dawn taught me more than she will ever know, by being such an amazing selfless teacher and friend who was instrumental in shaping me to be the person I am today.

Annie: Baroness Doreen Lawrence who found purpose from unimaginable loss and stood up for justice and reform. She is a heroic figure who wishes there had never been a reason to know her name. Her modesty and composure tells me to be interested in quiet people because they are the ones most likely to change the world. 

Katie: When I think about women that have shaped my life and truly inspire me, it’s very easy to think of the amazing ones that raised me – my Mum, my Nan, my Aunties – all wonderful, caring, independent and strong. But today, another person springs to mind, Anna Jester. Anna has been a constant pillar of support for me since I joined The Culture Builders team two years ago. Regardless of how many plates she’s spinning, Anna is always there. She has challenged me, mentored me, helped me through tough times and taught me a heck of a lot. She’s a rockstar business woman, an amazing Mum to her boys and a great friend and colleague! 

Dolly: Dolly Parton of course! Not just for her music, dry sense of humour, infectious laugh & resilience either.  But for her many, many kind acts, (most of which are hardly mentioned) and charities she supports. Dolly needs to join the list of the greatest philanthropists of all time in my opinion. She’s certainly no 9 to 5 gal!

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More stories from inspirational women

We couldn’t resist sharing some other stories from amazing women over the past year or so too. Pick one that inspires you and have a listen as part of your #IWD celebrations – you could even get your team to do the same. It will spark a brilliant conversation and a session of story sharing, which is, in itself, a huge part of how we will continue to change the narrative around equality.

Kellie McSorley – Talent in the new reality
Libby Townsend – Energising a magnetic culture
Samantha Bramley – Culture change through ethical investment
Heather Golding –  Creative cultures are founded on trust
Suzana Thurston – Growing and managing an international culture within DAZN
Beccy Matthews – The balancing act that is personal wellness
Grace Hannah – Building a strong culture across a UK radio network
Pam August – Looking beneath the wings of WestJet

From the whole of our team – enjoy celebrating International Women’s Day – we all have so much to be proud of.