International Women’s Day – what’s changed, what still has to change, and who inspires us

March 8, 2023

Ellie Couchman

Youth Co-ordinator

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the social, political and cultural achievements of women, and also to reflect on how things have changed in recent years, what work still needs to be done and who has inspired us to be the women we are. I spoke to a group of senior leaders at IDG to get their opinion on a few of these areas.

What’s changed?

We started by discussing the changes that they have seen in the last 10-15 years. There was general acknowledgement that more and more women are now on the board or in high leadership positions in organisations and trusted with high value projects, showing that we are being recognised for our knowledge, experience and opinions.

There has been a significant shift since the millennial generation entered the workplace, and we have brought a far more positive focus in the way we look at possibilities and why we are doing things, as opposed to who is doing it and what could go wrong.

The workplace in general has become more accommodating of difference and seeking out opportunities. This seems to have also improved since COVID; in general, companies have been seen to be more accommodating and flexible. Could it be possible that women are now able to spend more time leading people and making a difference, where before the focus had to be on championing themselves, being heard and proving their worth?

“Think like a man”?

In 2011 female representation in the UK’s biggest firms started being tracked- with the target to reach 33% of women on boards by 2020, the latest review shows 39% in FTSE 100 companies. We are now pushing for 40% in the top 350 companies by the end of 2025. While recognising the leaps and bounds made in female representation in leadership, there is still a long way for us to go.

My colleague Riya Arora made a point that I think is really important: she is often asked to “to think like a man” in the corporate world. This is a mindset we need to step away from and instead ask people to think like a leader, considering traits such as being caring, resilient, mentally tough and assertive – none of which are gender specific.

This led to us thinking about how we are treated differently from our male colleagues: we are required more often to prove our points, explain our reasoning, and justify our actions. It would be much more efficient without having to jump through these hoops.

Difference is a strength

A quote I love that came out of these conversations was “we can’t truly represent the world we live in, if we all look and think the same.” This opens a whole other conversation but it’s so true: without a team that equally represents gender, nationality, ethnicity, ability and age along with a variety of religious backgrounds, personal history, professional background/experience – how are we supposed to have a full understanding of the world?
This brought up the importance of leaders creating an environment where everyone can add value, knowing their people on an individual basis and having an established two-way communication system to ensure everyone feels the same and is getting what they need.

Gaining inspiration

There are so many influential people, it was hard for us to pick just a few that inspire! However, here is an introduction to some with links for further reading and listening.

We love listening to Rachel Botsman, a trust expert. She is knowledgeable, kind, authentic, engaging and inspiring, a truly phenomenal woman that makes us curious to learn. Her book is called Who Can You Trust where she dives into how technology is revolutionising the nature of trust. She also has a podcast called Rethink Moment where she reframes culturally significant ideas with variety of creative, innovative leaders.

Carol Dweck and her theory of neuroplasticity, explaining the brain’s ability to constantly make new connections throughout adulthood, being stimulated by new experiences and even developing after damage supporting the idea that a growth mindset can be adopted at any age. This mindset helps us shape our leadership approach, so if you’re looking for a more inclusive way to lead – her work is really worth a read.

Finally, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckart Tolle. We all deal with so much on a daily basis whilst constantly juggling many different roles. The power of silence and the power of ‘being in the now’ is indispensable, his book helps to understand that realm.


Thank you to Dr Rona MacKenzie, Johanne Malin and Riya Arora for sharing their thoughts and insights into this blog.

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IDG UK
IDG House Royal Berkshire Hotel London Road Ascot SL5 0PP UK
+44 (0) 207 798 2848

IDG India
301, Tower 2, Montreal Business Center Baner Road Pune 411045 India
+91 955 271 5800

IDG Middle East
5th Floor One Business Centre DMCC, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai UAE
+44 (0) 1276 686644