What the International Women’s Day theme means to UK Finance

International Women's Day

Friday, 8 March is International Womens Day. Recognised across the world, this is an opportunity to celebrate women's achievements while calling for a more gender-equal world.

“Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #InspireInclusion.” International Womens Day

This year, we asked women from across UK Finance to share their thoughts on the #InspireInclusion theme. Here’s what they shared with us:

Liberty Elliot - Analyst, Information and Intelligence support, Economic Crime

Liberty is an Analyst in the Economic Crime team at UK Finance. As well as her full-time day job, Liberty also volunteers as an on-call firefighter, covering 90 hours a week for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service.

"I’ve noticed that there is a real difference with inspiring others and creating room for others. It means that women realise there are lots of different avenues they can take in their career, not just sticking to one thing. If they feel as if they want to explore another part of their character, they can. That is important to me."

Shamar Walker – Apprentice, Content and Marketing

Shamar joined UK Finance in September 2023 as a Content and Marketing apprentice; she balances a busy role in marketing alongside her apprenticeship studies.

“Being a young woman in the industry, it's important to make your voice heard and to make people take you seriously. The theme, Inspire Inclusion, makes me feel heard and makes me feel seen. In my job, I work closely with so many women who are all experts in their field. Working with them makes me feel inspired because they're so encouraging, so supportive and they know what they're talking about.”

Julie Carruthers – Managing Director, Membership and Strategic Partnerships

Julie has worked in the Financial Service Sector for over 30 years. As well as being a member of UK Finance's senior leadership team, Julie is our UK Finance representative with Progress Together and a mentor to women in the sector.

“For me, inspiring inclusion is our own responsibility. It's down to you and me. We need to be good human beings and behave in such a way that is respectful and inclusive with our colleagues, our peers, our members and associate members as well as all the wonderful people that we meet on a day-to-day basis. As individuals, we should all be inspiring inclusion.

I network with a lot of other female peers, and I really get value out of having that group of females to help each other. As part of my work, I mentor female colleagues. I was also on the socioeconomic task force a couple of years ago where the focus was on progression. It is proven that progression for women is not as quick as it should be. I think it’s important to try to help other women navigate situations and sponsor them when they need it. Sponsorship in an organisation is really important. As a senior leader, I think it's my job to sponsor and champion other women.”

UK Finance is a supporter of Progress Together, a not-for-profit membership organisation working to improve socio-economic diversity at senior levels in UK financial services.

Anila Haleem – Principal, Sanctions and Export Controls

Anila is the Founder of the Women in Sanctions Forum and co-host of the UK Finance Sanctions School podcast series, she is a keen advocate for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“Inspiring inclusion is not just about inspiring women, but all those who work with women, the more we create that awareness, the more people then act on it.

Within the Sanctions community, I have been inspired by our steering committee. None of us started out in sanctions, but here we are together aligning on the same objective. It is inspiring to see women from all walks of life come together and work together.”

Sophia Kewell – Director, UK Public Affairs

Having recently returned from maternity leave Sophia Kewell was awarded Public Affairs Woman of the Year at the PRCA Polimonitor Awards this year.

“The theme for this year's International Women's Day is one that is important to me now that I've become a working parent. We need to think more about how we include mothers in our working lives. Are there things we do unintentionally that could make it harder for them to participate or to have the same professional life as before having children?”

UK Finance is a signatory to the HM Treasury Women in Finance charter. We see our commitment under the Women in Finance Charter as symbolic of the balanced and inclusive working environment needed to succeed in financial services. We aim to attract outstanding and diverse talent to operate in a collegiate and collaborative environment.

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