Rona Fairhead has recently been announced as the preferred choice to lead the BBC Trust. If her appointment is confirmed she will make history by being the first female to do so.
It has also been highlighted that she is a mother of 3 and there is momentum brewing over the view that her parental status appeared to take precedence over her ability and business experience, when the Telegraph first briefly covered the story.
Their online post now headlines Fairhead as a Businesswomen first.
Personally I feel that all credit should be offered to Ms Fairhead. For being married. For raising a family. For being passionate about her career and holding her ambition high. To potentially achieve a historical post in which I would hope she will bring fresh new ideas and competent ability. I celebrate it all, collectively and individually. In no particular order.
I take note of Laura Bates’ response in yesterday’s Guardian online that “the trouble is, when a woman’s family situation is foregrounded in an article about her career..it urges the reader to do what society largely does anyway – to consider her sex more relevant than her credentials. To think of her, not as a new appointee to an important role, not as a highly talented person taking the next step in her career, but as a woman and a mother. And in our gender biased society, such an angle brings with it subtle doubts about her ability.
But I disagree.
Bates goes on to say “When women already face high levels of maternity discrimination in the workplace, is it helpful to report on high-achieving woman first and foremost by referencing their family life?”
These are my thoughts..
I have a passionate commitment to changing the thinking in our businesses and corporations and my event in June, Bumps and the Boardroom – a global conversation of the pregnancy advantage for business created an ongoing dialogue with women in business who are not experiencing maternity discrimination but are facing a lack of understanding about the pregnancy process – from men and women – with both gender’s affected by the lack of flexibility shown around supporting new parents.
Both men and women are suffering from a lack of celebration, respect and value around our personal needs and desires alongside our professional ones. I would love there to be a greater focus on a man’s family and parental status rather than less on a woman’s.
As human beings I believe we need to bring our whole selves to the boardroom table. Male or Female. Married or Single. Straight or Gay. Parent or Childfree.
We are all so concerned about labels and I agree words can have negative connotations if you chose to look at them that way but ultimately blaming “society” for judgements or view points is letting yourself off the hook. You can choose how you interpret a statement and what bias you in turn give it. You are not a sheep following everyone else’s thoughts. See the information and decipher it for yourself.
I do take on board Bates comments and know it has raised more discussion about the possible appointment. But in the same way many were outraged by the focus on Nicky Morgan’s new shoes or Liz Truss’ blow-dry in the recent Cabinet reshuffle we can chose to ignore this take on things and just focus on the facts.
A women is in line for a senior position within a traditionally male dominated environment and I see this as a positive step to bringing about more balance, diversity and equality.
Rona Fairhead may be mother, a wife, a business bulldog, a maverick or a maven. I do not know her. I’ve never met her. I don’t know her views on life and women in the workplace. I have a strong feeling she hasn’t just woken up and found herself in line for this role – she has dedicated longterm experience and ability. Being a mother I would put money of the fact she has had to make tough choices in prioritising her passions. And inherently as a women and not a man she will have certain biological traits which I feel will be of benefit to the environment she is looking to join. That’s what I take-away from hearing the news. No negative, no slant, no other concerns.
I look forward to hearing if she succeeds in gaining the role.
I am a maternity consultant and expert with 12 years experience working with senior women in business supporting them along the pregnancy journey and back to the workplace and would love to hear your thoughts. Connections can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org, join Bumps and the Boardroom – a global conversation of the pregnancy advantage for business or follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.