Skip to navigation Skip to main content

IMPOWER’s panel session in celebration of International Women’s Day 2023

Chloe Saunders

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on 8 March every year to commemorate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and aims to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles women face for gender equality and empowerment.

The theme of IWD changes every year and this year the focus is on ‘Embracing Equity’ – to encourage looking beyond gender equality towards proactively addressing historic and systemic inequalities between genders, ensuring everyone has access to the same opportunities, and understanding the journey we need to go on to really achieve equal rights for women. At IMPOWER, we commit to #EmbracingEquity.

Today, we hosted a panel session to discuss how the workplace culture has changed over the years, challenges faced in the workplace, insights from parenting journeys, and what strengths women bring to the workplace, rounding off with some top tips and advice.

The panel was chaired by IMPOWER’s Head of Marketing Lucienne Limer, and she was joined by Delivery Directors Caroline Throssel, Cathy Tyson and Dom Luscombe, alongside Ruby Oluwafemi (Talent and Acquisition Manager) and Samantha Ingamells (Senior Manager).

Our panellists spoke about the stereotypes women face growing up around choosing suitable jobs, and ensuring they now make a conscious effort to challenge these perspectives. They reflected on the increased opportunities for women in STEM roles and senior positions, and their hopes that underrepresentation will soon be combatted across all industries.

“I have seen more of a push for representation of women at senior leadership levels and opportunities for women to break through the glass ceiling – whether this is through learning and development opportunities, mentoring, or female-centred networks. Throughout my career I have met and worked with an array of women in senior positions and I am continually inspired by them. It makes me feel like these positions are achievable for me.”

When becoming a first-time mother, one of our panellists was excited but nervous about how she would balance her personal and professional goals. She positively reflected:

“Having kids doesn’t impact your ability to do your job and I have worked in organisations that have supported me throughout my journey and didn’t make me feel like I had to choose between being a mother or working.”

What became clear during this panel session was just how supportive our female colleagues are of others’ development. One panellist shared her experience of first joining IMPOWER and struggling to find her voice. However, another female colleague stepped up as her unofficial mentor and pushed her to voice her opinions – validating them, expanding on them, or inviting others to weigh in when appropriate.

“Through her consistent support, tangible intervention and encouragement, I began to recognise my unique perspective and the value it brought to our team and clients.”

Another panellist spoke of her experience as an older woman, and that she focuses more on building up her team as her day-to-day working experience is more important to her than personal success:

“I tend to focus on team outcomes, and I find it easier to compromise and focus on longer-term benefits. Having children in their twenties I am very aware and sympathetic to the challenges of being a younger person forging a career. Very few things surprise me! Even when I encounter something new, I can find a reference point to start thinking of a solution. Experience can provide you with the confidence to keep working at a problem, thinking about it in different ways you will unlock a way forward. Innovation is a process – you need to have 99 good ideas before you have the one brilliant one. I no longer expect to be right first time and am happy to work through a process until you get to the one truly original idea.”

Panellists shared some of the strengths brought to the workplace by them and other women, to mention but a few:

  • Collaborative decision managing – valuing consensus and time spent building objectives and reaching agreement.
  • Coaching team members and supporting their development ambitions – caring about team members’ development and making colleagues feel comfortable with sharing and asking for support.
  • Being nurturing and approachable – building strong relationships with colleagues to earn their trust and respect.

It was noted that men bring these qualities too – and we highlighted that we have many male allies (or ‘hype men’) at IMPOWER.

And finally, some top tips and advice to younger woman starting their careers included:

  • Making sure your values align with the organisation and people you work with: “your career is going to be with you for life, it’s important to value what you do and do what you believe in.”
  • Watch and learn from others around you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help: “No question is a ‘stupid’ question, don’t dwell on setbacks or mistakes – it’s usually not as bad as you think! Embrace and use them as valuable opportunities for growth and learning to help develop resilience.”
  • Pursue what you enjoy and what you are good at, and don’t worry too much about where it will take you: “It’s easy to fall into the trap of limiting your ambition based on what you see around you, but that can prevent you from discovering unexpected opportunities. Explore different paths, take on new challenges, and embrace the unknown.”
  • And most importantly: never give up on your dreams: “even if they seem unconventional or unachievable. Trust in yourself and your abilities, and keep pushing forward.”
Written by

Chloe Saunders

Marketing and Communications Manager, IMPOWER



Sign up for the latest thinking on delivering sustainable change and better public services

No spam; unsubscribe easily at any time. Learn more in our Privacy Policy.