As you will no doubt be aware, it was International Women’s Day on 8th March and this week, I want to focus my message on that. I took up the role of Dimensions’ first female CEO on 7th March 2022 and International Women’s Day is always on 8th March. So, for me there will always be a special connection between those two dates (and of course it means I’ll never forget my CEO anniversary)!
I know some people reading this will be wondering why we need to have a day that recognises people that identify as women. We do live in a society where particular groups of people still face barriers, and it’s important that we stop to think about that and celebrate people’s achievements, and of course there is also an International Men’s Day in November that we’ll recognise too. I was interested to read that the International Women’s Day website talks about the difference between equality and equity. Equality means giving every person or group of people the same resources or opportunities, whereas equity acknowledges each person has different circumstances and allocates the resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. I have always said that equality isn’t about treating everyone the same but recognising and accommodating differences and I think this definition says pretty much that, but in different words.
We have a high proportion of women on our Executive Team, the Group Board, and within our senior leadership team roles. Several women have been through our Aspire Programme and furthered their careers here in Dimensions. Our gender pay gap (which we publicly report on each year) is half the national average. Last year we were recognised as a Great Place to Work for women, ranking above other household names such as Santander and Deloitte. And in our colleague survey, 93% of female respondents said they are treated fairly, regardless of their gender, with 81% saying they felt they could be themselves here at Dimensions.
But as ever, we’re not complacent about equity for women with learning disabilities or autistic women in society and want to play our part in improving access to opportunities where we can. Evidence shows that women with a learning disability are less likely to access breast and cervical screenings when compared to the general population, and some of those screening tests can be harder for people with a learning disability to take part in. Some of the people we support in Sussex have made some fabulous videos with the NHS to encourage people to engage with healthcare appointments. Please share the resources below with the people you support if you think it will encourage them to access the right healthcare appointments:
Kitty is a support worker and identifies as a trans woman. Kitty describes eloquently how sometimes it feels even more difficult as a trans woman as she must prove herself as a woman to get a seat at the table. She sets out how she has struggled in the past, but now she’s proud to be a woman and is able to love her physical and mental self.
Rachel is a member of the Dimensions Council and a quality consultant. She sets out in her video what her role entails and the difference it makes to her life and to how we work. A great example of just one of the inspirational women we support who makes a difference through her involvement.
Charlie works as a communications and events officer and describes her experience here at Dimensions as ‘life changing’, particularly within the context of her ADHD and autism diagnosis, along with balancing family life with two autistic children who also have ADHD. Charlie’s just one of the women who’ve been through our Aspire programme and describes the difference it’s made to her. And finally, Charlie describes a Ukranian woman who is living with her family after coming to the UK last year. It’s great that Charlie recognises Olha as an inspiring woman – but I also think it’s fabulous that Charlie has welcomed her into the family home. What a fantastic example of International Women’s Day being truly international!
Alice who is the Deputy Chair of Discovery Council describes the progress we have made here in the UK in terms of women’s rights, but reminds us that is not the case everywhere. She tells us it’s important to celebrate our rights to speak up and be heard. And of course we know many women before us did that; my grandma was a suffragette and an active part of the movement to secure women’s rights to vote.
And last, but definitely not least, is Chelsea the Deputy Dimensions Council Chair. I know from personal experience that Chelsea is a strong woman – she was part of the interview panel when I applied for the CEO role and she put me through my paces! Chelsea is a tireless advocate for others and is always speaking up at events.
They might often need additional support and advice to be a mother – a great example of how we need to consider International Women’s Day in the context of equity, not simply equality.
There are so many fabulous, inspiring and wonderful women here in Dimensions that I could keep on going, but I hope highlighting a few of those people will help you all reflect on International Women’s Day and why it’s worth celebrating!
As always, thank you for your contribution to Dimensions and the lives of the people we support, whatever your role (or gender).