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Issue #14: Stop, collaborate and listen

It is Suit & Pie's 6 monthiversary this week (yes, according to Urban Dictionary 'monthiversary' is a word) and, apart from being a great excuse to buy some celebratory cake (although I didn't really need an excuse), I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a moment to reflect on what Suit & Pie is really hoping to achieve. 

Through the newsletter, I have had the opportunity to meet more inspirational women and men than I even knew existed, all driven by the same desire to level the playing field for working women and raise awareness of gendered issues. But what is the outcome all these websites, blogs and campaigns are hoping for? What does a truly gender diverse society look like? Is the answer as simple as 'having equal opportunities for men and women'?

Having pondered this question for a while, I thought it best to put it to the experts - a mixture of men and women from a variety of backgrounds, levels and sectors (we are nothing if not diverse!). The results are some incredibly insightful views from Kathryn Nawrockyi (Director of Opportunity Now, the organisation carrying out the 28-40 research) and Gaenor Bagley (Head of People, PricewaterhouseCoopers) amongst others.  

We also explore the controversy surrounding the right for all employees to request flexible working from 30 June and rediscover a great TED talk by Colin Stokes on how movies teach manhood to boys in our Man's Corner. 

Our Superwomen issue received an amazing amount of support, so we wanted to say thank you so much #suities for your follows, retweets, shares and likes - we are truly grateful!

Happy reading!

x  foong
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Issue #15 of Suit & Pie is out on 17 July 2014. Subscribe here to receive it straight to your inbox and catch up on past issues in our archive. You can also read the Suit & Pie story here courtesy of
What does a truly gender diverse society look like?
Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director at Opportunity Now

"A truly gender equal society will be one in which we do not set limitations for one another on the basis of gender; a society in which sexual violence is not a gendered weapon, in which girls are not conditioned from a young age to believe that their aspirations should be pink and fluffy. We need to question ourselves constantly and challenge traditional notions of thinking that may perpetuate damaging norms. We - men and women - need to work together to influence positive change: in the workplace, in the home, in school and on the street."
Johan Neethling, Senior International Tax Manager, Oil & Gas sector

"Society has come a long way and we're heading in the right direction, but until perceptions about the division of life's responsibilities between genders change, there will still be a divide.
We need to move past the traditional view of what partner has what responsibilities to instead pull together and view them as a bundle of responsibilities to be divided without regard to gender or tradition. I think that only then can the gender divide begin to be eroded."
Gaenor Bagley, Head of People at PricewaterhouseCoopers

"A truly gender diverse society is one that recognises that the responsibilities of child care are responsibilities of society as a whole and should be shared equally by both genders. 

The recent 28-40 study showed that women are far more likely than men to worry about whether they can continue with their career once they have had children. On the other hand men are often challenged much more by their employers if they ask for time off to be with their children. 

Currently we don't have choice for men or women. The move to expand the right to flexible working for all and the forthcoming introduction of shared parental leave will hopefully help, but we will need a cultural shift to ensure that these new rules do actually make a difference."
Adil Kadar, Dove R&D Capability Leader at Unilever

"The potential of women is that 60% of the world's university graduates are women. In the future, I'd like to see this potential realised by higher numbers of women represented all the way up to senior leadership level.

I think that the journey of gender balance has definitely started with great initiatives such as job shares, flexible working and better family support so that working women and men don't have to choose between family and their career.

However, we need to do more! I'd like to see more mixed-gender networks and initiatives in promoting true gender diversity to balance future management teams.

In my opinion, it's not about promoting one group over another nor corrective actions but striving to create balanced management teams."
Let's get flexible...
The right to request flexible working was extended from parents and carers only (c10 million people) to all employees (c20 million people) on 30 June. The views from the press are pretty mixed.

On the one hand, Ministers are saying that this will reduce the 1950s culture of 'presenteeism' with employees being happier, more productive and less likely to leave as a result of a better work-life balance. This will help cut down on the growing resentment toward parents who get preferential treatment at work and help remove the stigma around fathers wanting to work flexibly to take care of their kids. Organisations like Timewise have also been promoting the fact that part time working does not necessarily mean less commitment and therefore should not impact on career progression.

However the new rule only provides a right to request flexible working, not an automatic entitlement. All requests will need to be considered on a first come first serve basis and clear business reasons must be given for any rejection. Businesses are expecting a large number of requests to be made with no right to prioritise parents' requests over those of any other employee. This could lead to tricky employee relations situations and possible discrimination claims, together with additional administrative and tribunal costs.

All things considered, it remains to be seen the impact the extension of flexible working rights will have in practice... and whether an employee would really apply for a right to start late on a Monday so they could have a lie in (ok, so that sounds good to me too). 
Socks & crumbs (or the bit at the bottom)
Heard it through the (corporate) grapevine...

- St Paul's Institute will be hosting a public discussion on 'Women in Leadership: What needs to change?' on 16 July.

Speakers will include Liz Bingham (Managing Partner for Talent at Ernst & Young) and Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty). Tickets are free so sign up here

- Women Unlimited founder Julie Hall will be hosting two 3 hour Twitter workshops (beginner and advanced) on 24 July for those of us who need a little help with RTs, #'s and @'s!
This week I will be...

- getting all loved up at the Festival of Love on the Southbank, 7 weeks of free performances, talks and pop-ups culminating in a Big Wedding Weekend

- checking out Esther Honig's great photoshopping experiment which compares beauty in 25 different countries

- rediscovering some guilty pleasures in the list of 19 songs that are so bad they're actually amazing (#1, 10, 12 and 19 - here's looking at you!)

- savouring the divine handmade puddings of Pots & Co which I discovered at Taste of London 
It's a man's world - maybe we aren't so different after all 

Manhood & Movies

In this great TED talk, Colin Stokes, Director of Communications at Citizen Schools, compares the female leadership demonstrated by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz to how movies like Star Wars teach manhood to boys.

'How does Dorothy win her movie? By making friends and being a leader. That is the kind of world I would rather raise my kids in - Oz. Not the world of dudes fighting.'

He also draws attention to the Bechdel test developed by Alison Bechdel, a comic book artist, in the 80s. It measures gender bias in films by asking: 

1. Does the movie feature at least 2 women?
2. Do they talk to each other?
3. About something other than a man?

He encourages people to seek out movies that pass the Bechdel test and 'seek out the heroines who show real courage and bring people together, and to nudge our sons to identify with those heroines and to say "I want to be on their team", because they're going to be on their team.'

What a great lesson to teach your kids! 
Mr Smith's corner

Mr Smith gives us his thoughts for the week.
Highlights: Sad news in June with the sudden death of comedian Rik Mayal. I spent a lot of time glued to the black and white portable TV in the dining room watching him in the Young Ones and Blackadder in the 80s and early 90s. Much to the disapproval of Mr and Mrs Smith senior and my little sister who was employed to fiddle with the dodgy TV aerial - you think you have it tough with 3G issues! 

I did manage to catch a few of the reruns this week though - brought back lots of great memories! I wouldn't say Lord Flashheart and Alan B'stard would be your first pick as diversity champions, they look even more bigoted and outlandish than I remember. But you can't beat a great caricature to help get your point across.

Lowlights: Following England's world cup debacle I didn't make that slow boat to Costa Rica in the end. To be honest I was more annoyed with the fact Chile went home too - I had them in the sweepstake.

Lesson learnt: I don't do roller coasters anymore... Since we last caught up I had No.4 son's birthday day out at cbeebies land at Alton Towers. Having spent an unhealthy amount of time in Justin's House I had a go on the new ride 'The Smiler'. Not for the faint hearted and not particularly well named. After 14 loop the loops I had to have a senior moment on the grass, credibility and pride in tatters...
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