November 25, 2014
Inspiring Women Event: Gabby Logan
By: Annie Mitchell
Hi all. My name’s Annie and I am an intern on the Horizons Scheme. I’m sure you’re all very clued up on Horizons having read my dear friend Harriet’s blog, right? If not, you can learn more about it here: Welcome to Horizons.
For my first blog post, I want to write about something current and exciting that I’ve been part of within Accenture. “Current and exciting?” I hear you wonder. Behold: The Inspiring Women’s Event, Tuesday 18th November. I’m going to split this post up into three sections that will read as follows:
- The event itself: Gibson Hall
- The content: Women in work
- My experience: What have I learnt?
In all honesty, it was partly by chance that I was lucky enough to offer my help for this event. I only found out about it when helping at a careers fair at the University of Nottingham (great experience – highly recommend). I was telling the female (yes, only female) students about what a great opportunity we had in store for them – that they could apply to the event by writing a short paragraph as to why they are interested in attending, and if successful not only would they get a place at the event but a fast track through to one of our Assessment Centres. As I’m sure you all know, getting through to one of our sought after ACs is rare with the amount of applicants we receive, so this really was a great opportunity. It dawned on me, then, that in fact I myself would really like to be a part of this incredible experience. So, I asked the lovely Fran Seeley (also there at the careers fair) if she needed an extra pair of hands on the night, and luckily, she did.
- The event itself: Gibson Hall
So what is the event? I bet you’re dying to know. The Inspiring Woman – the guest speaker – was Gabby Logan. You know Gabby! She’s best known for her success as an international gymnast and sports reporter. More on Gabby and what she had to say later.
Having finished later than expected on the client site, Sam and I rushed to Liverpool St for 5:30. Oh – I haven’t introduced Sam – she’s my official “buddy” at Accenture – my point of contact for support and questions. But she’s also truly my buddy. My pal. My friend. I got her involved with helping at the event as I knew it was right up her street. Anyway, slightly flustered, we arrived at the Gibson Hall in time for a quick briefing. Well, I don’t think I can articulate how breath taking this place was. I’m not even going to try – the pictures are pretty self-explanatory!
Having arrived, we went into the main hall where approximately 100 young girls were sat in anticipation for Gabby’s speech. It was a brilliant atmosphere and there was a real sense of “girl power” in the room (sorry lads). I did pity the one guy at the back – he must have felt seriously outnumbered. Sam and I joined separate tables and begun chatting to the prospective applicants. The girls on my table were a breath of fresh air; all of them were interested in my role, my experiences and my opinion on Accenture so far. I really enjoyed answering all their questions and tried to be as honest and helpful as I could.
After Gabby’s speech (I promise I’ll come to that part later) Accenture had laid on drinks and nibbles for networking. This is always a touch, I mean, who doesn’t love a glass of wine after work? Better than that though was the conversation, the networking, the meeting of new people who were all of similar mind-sets and opinions; they were all young women who wanted to excel in their future careers. I feel like when I help at these events I remind myself of how lucky I am to be having this experience as a gap year intern. Whenever I answered their questions I was somewhat selling Accenture to myself, I was realising how much I really am enjoying my time here. But yeah, for me, that atmosphere in a room of driven young women is something special I’ll take away from that event.
Around 8:30 I had to head home – it was my granddad’s 91st birthday and I wanted to get back in time to join in the celebrations.
- The content: Women in work
This topic is extremely current and relevant for both women and men in work of all age, race, religion and sexuality. The fact: there is still a glass ceiling in business. There are more men than women in managerial roles in the UK. I am incredibly proud to work for a firm who strive to challenge this. Accenture’s ‘Inspiring Women’ event isn’t just a one-off opportunity for young girls to have a formal evening in a fancy hall – it’s a sign of our progressive attitude towards women in work. It’s a sign of our core values, it’s a sign of our intolerance to women who aren’t striving to be the best they can be and it’s a sign of change.
Introducing Gabby was Emma McGuigan, the UK/I Accenture Technology managing director and the global delivery lead for Careers. I was very excited when I introduced myself after the event due to Emma’s heavy involvement in the Accent on Women, and even more so when she took interest in my project.
Indeed, there are no two ways about it: Gabby Logan is an inspiring woman. The presenter took us on a journey through her diverse career; from juggling 9 jobs in her gap year to presenting at the Beijing Olympics, Gabby told us of how she always kept her options open. Gabby insisted that saying “yes” to most opportunities that came her way is the key to her success – this isn’t always the case, however, as when she most amusingly found herself lined up to interview a world class jockey whilst riding a horse without any prior riding experience!
Since the informative event, I’ve done a bit of research into the topic of women in work. Don’t get me wrong, there’s so much information online that I’ve barely scratched the surface, but it appears that the main barriers facing women in work are as follows:
- Pay – the more senior the employees, the greater the disparity in pay
- Childbirth/motherhood – women have less experience in work as they take time out to raise children and are often not kept in the loop during their time off
- Women make up the bulk of part time work so hourly rates are more common and lower
So, how does this apply to Accenture and how as a company are we trying to overcome this issue? Well, firstly, more women are being appointed into senior roles. This creates a positive multiplier effect; Managers, Senior Managers and Managing Directors are increasing in females who inspire female Analysts to climb the ladder and progress in their career. This is a pleasing step in the right direction; Emma proudly told us girls that she is the first female to be appointed into her role. I mean, that’s an incredible achievement and something we should be seeing more and more in the workplace.
Accenture are renowned for our generous maternity leave programme. I’m not sure how much detail I can disclose, but women are well looked after when they take time out to have a family. This encourages women to push themselves in their career as they know they have security within the company when the time comes to have children. I’ve heard countless stories of women in a wide range of roles who are welcomed back after their maternity leave – Accenture are incredibly good at accommodating females’ needs in order to have the best candidate for the job; if that means having a woman who works for three days and looks after children for the remaining two, this is often arranged. I mean, what’s the point in having a man do a job in five days that a woman can do in three?
I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m not suggesting we should be appointing women into roles over men simply because they are female. I wouldn’t suggest this for one minute – if a man is more capable or suited to a position than his female counterpart, it would be totally unfair for him not to be in that role. However, the progressive idea which we should all be considering is that to be a woman is not an excuse to be held back in one’s career.
Listening to Gabby has changed my view on the topic. I was expecting her to have an anti-men stance and very much praise women in her speech on careers. It was quite different – no, there was no man-hating whatsoever – Gabby hardly mentioned the influence of men (be it oppressive or supportive) in her speech. What resonated with me was how gender-neutral Gabby came across. It was made very clear that her success had come from hard work, good timing and a genuine enthusiasm for what she was doing. Yes, there were times she told of when she had experienced some issues when pregnant with her twins, but her attitude meant that she was never held back as a woman in work.
- My experience: What have I learnt?
A candidate asked Gabby “Have you ever experienced sexism in the workplace, and if so, how would you overcome this?”
Gabby advised “I have occasionally been confronted with this sort of situation. I think it’s best to speak up, but in a way that informs the person that you think they may have offended someone, as often people don’t realise the full effect of what they have said”.
I think this advice is helpful. It’s made me consider how easy it must be to offend someone in the workplace on a gender basis without even realising it and think of how I can subtly and carefully diffuse these situations, or prevent them from happening at all.
All in all, I’ve learnt that you really can achieve whatever you want to achieve in business if you put your mind to it and being a woman should never be a factor that prevents you from achieving your dreams. Gabby Logan is an inspiration to us all – her diverse and exciting career is testament to her driven, enthusiastic personality. I hope one day to be as successful as her in my career; I’m extremely grateful that Accenture is a company which strives to make this possible for me and other women all over the world.
Gabby was such an approachable, down to earth person. Check out this pic of Sam, Gabby and I after the event!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my first post – I’d love some feedback on what you thought of it.
––– Annie :)