Today is International Women’s Day 2023!
At Zenith, we want to showcase women’s achievements and recognise how far society has come to accept and acknowledge them. Our own Managing Director of both Zenith People and Zenith Training, Angela Anderson, is a perfect case study and celebration of women excelling in business, especially in her leadership role.
A (Very) brief history of International Women’s Day.
The history of International Women’s Day dates back to 1908; Theresa Malkeil first proposed it on February 28th (Note that this is different from the international women’s day date we know today- more on that later!). As the years progressed, so did the advancement of women’s rights. The demand for women’s rights grew, and movements at the time gained notoriety. A significant year for women’s rights and feminism was 1967; this generation of feminists demanded change.
They called for preventing violence against women, equal pay, equal economic opportunity, reproductive rights, equal legal rights, and subsidized child care. These women did not want more; they fought for gender equality. In 1977, the United Nations proclaimed March 8th International Women’s Day and the UN Day for Women’s rights and world peace.
Above is a very brief snippet of the history of International Women’s Day; for a more thorough timeline, follow this link. Equality – it’s about time: Timeline of women’s rights 1866-2016 | The Fawcett Society
Women in Leadership: Angela Anderson.
Men have historically populated the world of business. In the past, even industries that you’d assume are female-dominated, more often than not, have been headed by men. Even though it’s not quite the case anymore, female business leadership used to be a rarity; rewind even twenty to thirty years ago and the comparison to today is significant.
Our feature below illustrates Angela’s success in starting and running her two businesses, proving gender has been no setback!
Name: Angela Anderson
Title: Managing Director of Zenith People and Zenith Training.
Female role models:
- Queen Elizabeth 1st. Why? Queen Elizabeth 1st ruled at a time when women had hardly any power. If you were a female royal, you were seen as disposable. ‘In an era that saw women as weak, inferior, and unfit to rule. She overturned convention and de-fled prejudice, resisting all pressure to marry and risk losing power to a man. – Russell Davis (Evil Genius).
- Her best friend. Why? Angela describes her best friend (A fellow woman in business) of many years as ‘very determined, very strong, very strategically minded, very creative and very disciplined.’
Starting work as an apprentice and then going into recruitment herself, Angela decided to start a business of her own. Nobody in her family owned a business of any kind; her dad was a sheet metal worker, and her mam a part-time data inputter; her grandfather worked on the railways; and her gran didn’t work.
Angela initially joined a colleague who had started her own business to help her out. After some time, and after Angela brought all her clients over, Angela’s colleague decided that she no longer needed help within the business. At this point, Angela could have either gone and worked at another recruitment business or continued on her own. Since she’d already proven to herself that she clearly had the capabilities while helping her friend, she thought….’ If she can do it, I can do it. I borrowed some money from my gran, my sister’s boyfriend, my mam and dad, and some of my own, and set up this place’.
‘If she can do it, I can do it’.
Angela set up Zenith People in 2001, starting with just two people; Angela herself and one other person. As time progressed, Zenith rapidly grew; during the earlier years, the business dealt with many recruitment areas such as Engineering, Industrial, commercial and construction, with Manufacturing and IT now officially on the list! Zenith Training was started and developed, slowly but steadily, in 2011 as an internal apprenticeship programme and officially became a separate business in 2016.
Today both Zenith People and Zenith Training have a combined staff of over forty!
‘Misogyny in business’
Throughout her business journey, Angela’s gender has thankfully not brought any setbacks for her. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist; over 8.2 million employees in the UK feel like they are discriminated against because of their gender.
Misogyny is sometimes concealed in business and stereotypes enforced; the person executing may not even realise they’re doing it, but that’s not an excuse to not become more aware of your behaviour. An example of this is expecting female staff to ‘clean up’ or ‘run errands’ when they wouldn’t ask their male counterpart to do the same.
Even body language and where attention is directed can be unknowingly gendered; Angela retold a story of when she and our Commercial Director, Alan, attended a business meeting. Throughout the meeting, the male client directed his attention to Alan instead of Ang, despite Ang being Zenith’s MD (In charge!). Unfortunately, this is common practice; people may not even realise they’re doing it but are instead conditioned to have these views of women as a reflection of their upbringing and societal norms.
Gender inclusivity and misogyny have drastically improved over the years. But it’s not perfect. This international Women’s Day, we want to celebrate how far we have come and recognise how far we have got to go.
A significant step forward is to educate yourself.
Want an easy, accessible way to learn about equality? Watch a documentary; documentaries make big complex topics easier to understand and digest.
– Feminists: What were they thinking?
– Period, end of sentence.
– She’s beautiful when she’s angry.
– Saudi Women’s driving school.
Books to read on gender equality:
– Hood feminism: Notes from the women that a movement forgot.
– A room of one’s own.
– Rad women worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and other revolutionaries who shaped history.
Podcasts: (We know… they’re all the rage)
– The history of chicks
– Girl Boss Radio
– Our Body Politic
– Encyclopaedia Womanica.
‘Courageous feminism means no woman is left behind’.
Regardless of whereabouts you consume information this International Women’s Day, always strive for inclusivity. For more information about how you can recognize and push inclusivity, look at this article!