Courage and the battle for gender equality

EY reflects on the importance of courage in the wake of their International Women's Day speed-mentoring event

By Josie Cluer

19 Mar 2019

EY is delighted to have sponsored the NLGN’s International Women’s Day speed-mentoring event. 16 inspiring senior women from Local Government and beyond speed mentored over 200 future female leaders about leadership and career progression.

At EY we are purpose led: everything we do is about building a better working world. We know the world will work better, and be better, if more women like the fantastic women we met at the event are better networked and progress in their careers.

My message was about courage. We all need a bit more of it.

A statue has been put up on college green of the campaigner for women’s’ rights and education, Millicent Fawcett. She’s holding a scroll of her most famous quote, “Courage calls to courage everywhere”. She said it of her friend, Emily Wilding Davison, who attempted to pin a suffragette rosette on the king’s horse and was trampled by it. Millicent took inspiration from Emily’s courage, which helped her be more courageous herself.

"Courage calls to courage everywhere." Millicent Fawcett 

My friend, Jo Cox MP, was murdered a few years ago doing what she loved – advocating for her constituents. Like Emily Wilding Davison, she also stood up for what she believed in, and she was also brave. Whether she was phoning celebrities out of the blue to ask to support her latest campaign, advocating for maternal health or speaking up in Parliament for women’s rights and human rights, her fearlessness was infectious to all who worked with her. I think of her often, as do many others, to take inspiration to be brave and take that extra step and stretch that little further. Her courage still calls to us.

The mentees heard fantastic stories of courage from the female chief executives, who were generously candid about their careers and experiences. These women had stood up to discrimination, calling it out, way before #MeToo was a thing; they’d applied for – and got – jobs they weren’t really qualified for; they’d challenged gender stereotypes as they’d juggled family and career. They’d all been encouraged by other women, and their own courage was inspiring to this next generation.

Leaving drinks in the pub afterwards (attended by an impressive number of women), I was hugely uplifted and moved by the energy in the network of women that NLGN has created. I also reflected that we can all show a bit more courage, wherever we are in our careers. The more courage we each show, the more it will call to others, the more it will inspire women everywhere. 

Click here to download EY's latest report: How can data tell a story that keeps a vulnerable person safe?

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