IWD 2018: Chopping my hair and dying it red

by | Jun 4, 2018 | Blog, Flourishing Female, Workplace Psychology | 0 comments


Earlier this week I introduced myself to an audience at the Insuring Women’s Future Live conference by asking them to vote (using their green/red paddles) on whether they, like me, now felt a strong desire to cut their hair short and colour it red. A significant number did. A bit random? We’d just been blown away by the inspiring, humble, brilliant and completely unassuming (if one can say that in reference to a woman with scarlet hair) Dr Sue Black. “If I can do it, so can you” is how she closed her keynote speech (she wasn’t talking about colouring her hair – she drove the campaign to save Bletchley Park and has done much, much more besides).

March notes

This being March, a time of high-energy for me (International Women’s Day today Thursday 8th March, daylight returning to early morning runs and a birthday) there’s just too much going on to focus on just one thing (regular readers know I usually discuss one idea to make your life better with a nod to relevant psychology research). So in this musing I bring you several “notes.”

I was reading Grayson Perry on the train to  #IWFLive2018 with a pen in hand. I underlined this:

“Practically every person on the globe who wants to be taken seriously in politics, business and the media dresses up in some way like Default Man, in a grey, Western, two-piece business suit. It is not referred to as ‘power dressing’ for nothing.”

Me reading this before the conference was apposite given the request to dress casually. Many people remarked on my jumper throughout the day (I don’t know whether I looked good in it or not – I was once told by a House of Colour stylist that if people tell you they like a garment you’re wearing it means they think it would look good on themselves. If they tell you you look good, it means you look good).


Riotous dress, no jacket?

I have decided that I will end my 30s doing my very best to prize the ownership and wearing of much besides navy and grey. I had already settled on a riotous-coloured dress minus jacket for an “Art of Success” event at the law firm Reed Smith where I am a panelist next month.* The decision to wear said dress (and no jacket) came after hearing Helena Morrisey speak and devouring her book A Good Time to Be a Girl: Don’t Lean In, Change the System last month. She used to be the CEO of Newton Asset Management and has a very feminine way of dressing in a male-dominated industry.

This thing about the jacket is interesting because I was challenged on wearing one last International Women’s day when I was ‘playing’ to a large audience on strengths psychology. At the end a participant rolled merrily up to the front, told me I was brilliant and that didn’t need to wear a jacket to give me credibility. We had a diverting five minutes talking cashmere, structured tailoring and power and masculinity in the way women dress at work.

* The Art of Success is an evening exploring the findings of a survey of very senior women in the City. The event was postponed in Feb when the snow came down – at the time it was full with a waiting list but the date change may have freed some places so if you’d like to come, do e-mail April French: AFrench@reedsmith.com.



Women in Finance Charter

I talked around two ‘risks’ at the IWF Live Conference:

  1. What is the risk to women if we don’t raise the number of men taking Shared Parental Leave from 3%?
  2. What is the risk to the insurance industry if organisations within the sector don’t change their recruitment practices to include the strapline ‘happy to talk flexible working’ on job adverts?

I could write an essay on both subjects but you may not be interested. If you’re curious, read my LinkedIn piece on Shared Parental Leave and this on  the benefits to employers of talking flexible working at the point of hiring.

Questions followed from the audience including one about how to get senior leaders in their organisations to take on these challenges/changes around SPL, flexibility, the gender pay gap and the small pools that recruiters fish in for females in risk and protection. My response was to ask them to go and be flies in the ears of their executives until they signed up to the Women in Finance Charter. I also suggested they leave copies of Grayson Perry’s “The Descent of Man”and Helena Morrisey’s book on the desk of male colleagues with the most influence.


Still on the subject of women in finance, The Talent Keeper Specialists recently submitted a response to the Treasury’s ‘Women and Finance’ inquiry.


50:50 Parliament

I was delighted when a bright young thing asked me why Government hasn’t yet given men a non-transferable portion of leave when they become parents. We had a good chat about policy-making, my discussions with Jo Swinson MP and on her (the bright young thing) running for local elections in Wapping in May.

Beyond my day job as the CEO of The Talent Keeper Specialists I am a local district councillor and have been whispering in women’s ears since being elected, asking them to consider standing too. We will get to a 50:50 parliament when people like you put yourselves into the local political system. More about the 50:50 campaign here and please do feel free to book a short chat in with me if you are curious about becoming a local councillor – Trish manages my diary: tm@talentkeepers.co.uk.


How do you close the gender pay gap?

I spent an enjoyable amble along the Southbank on the way to ITV listening to How do you close the gender pay gap? last week. 23 minutes of high quality content from BBC Radio 4’s The Inquiry podcast team. The conclusion seems to be that we need to stop penalising people (women) who require flexibility in the way they do their jobs. Female pharmacists are doing wonderfully well financially in the US because flexibility is part of the job and both women and men use it.


La La Land and the Bechdel Test

I finally got round to watching La La Land and loved it. A friend sent me a link to the  Bechdel Test yesterday and I now want to re-watch it and see whether it passes (no, I didn’t know about Bechdel either until Lucy flagged it – it’s a way of drawing attention to gender equality in fiction. To pass the test two named female characters must talk about something other than a man). I also loved Emma Stone in “Battle of the Sexes” and think for obvious reasons it probably wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test. It is still an excellent film and do recommend both.

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