What She Can Be… does, then, is show young women that the doors of the City are open to them; that the men of equal calibre are not hired over women, and that the City is crying out for the skills that these young women will bring to the workplace (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images).
Radhakrishna N S
By Francesca Baker and Katie Yates of The Lord Mayors Appeal
SHE CAN BE… was born of the statistic that 64 per cent of young women between the ages of 17 and 21 believed that, all being equal, a man would be hired over a woman (Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2016). At The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, we found this really disappointing because we’re in a fortunate position that allows us to see all of the great work that City businesses are doing to make their workplaces more inclusive for women.
Now, the statistics aren’t much better; Girlguiding’s most recent Girls’ Attitudes Survey found that 67 per cent of young women between the ages of 11 and 21 believe that men have more chances in the workplace than women and ten girls to every one boy believe that they will face discrimination at some point during their career (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors 2016). So we know that She Can Be… is still important and we still need to act.
What She Can Be… does, then, is show young women that the doors of the City are open to them; that the men of equal calibre are not hired over women, and that the City is crying out for the skills that these young women will bring to the workplace.
From talking with the young women, we know that it works. Our survey after the 2018 event showed that 88 per cent of young women felt empowered to make decisions about their careers after She Can Be… and 86 per cent of young women said they would consider a career in the City. After the event, 92 per cent of the young women attendees believed that a career in the City is something they could achieve. Before the event, only 49 per cent agreed. What’s more, 74 per cent of young women felt confident in their abilities as a result of taking part in She Can Be…
A lot of it is about knowledge. You can’t be what you can’t see, as the saying goes. Eighty two per cent of young women had a good understanding of the different City careers available after the event because they spent time with ‘real models’ – women who have progressed in the business, and perhaps faced similar hurdles. These women show them what a day in the office looks like, and what they get up to in their role. These opportunities to connect with someone in the business allow women to see what their future could look like.
But it’s not just the young women who need to change their outlook. Firms and businesses do too. And here She Can Be… is having an effect. After the 2018 event 90 per cent of employees felt more confident about the tangible action they can take to empower women in the workplace. They know how to support young people as they embark on their professional life.
We hope that this translates into confidence and an ongoing sense of empowerment for the young women. Going forward, we want to make sure that She Can Be… is more than just a one day intervention. As good as that is, we know it’s not enough, so we’re looking at ways we can partner with mentorship schemes and work experience programmes to ensure that the opportunities remain open to the young women beyond one day in February.