International Women’s Day 2021: the importance of challenging perceptions

‘We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.’

With this year’s theme in mind, we wanted to add a different perspective to help recognise International Women’s Day this year. It’s not often we meet our future partners at work – but that’s what happened to Pensions Manager, Steve and HR Adviser, Charlotte. They support each other with their careers whilst raising a young family. Here’s how they succeed in fighting inequality by creating a harmonious environment for them both to succeed.

Let’s hear more from Steve…

March 8, 2021

This year’s International Women’s Day campaign is about ‘choose to challenge’ what does this mean to you?

It’s important to continue to challenge people’s thoughts and perceptions on this subject. For me, I feel everyone should be provided with equal opportunity and responsibility and not to discriminate because of gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, belief or disability. We’re not in the 1960s anymore! In a work environment it’s about what the person can bring to the role and their outputs.

How do you and Charlotte make such a great team?

It’s simply about communication! We consider each other’s priorities, workloads and meeting schedules and then work together to establish as much of a routine as we can. Since 19 March when the pandemic started to unfold into lockdown, Old Mill encouraged all employees to work flexibly at home which has been life-changing for Charlotte and I. Between us we have three daughters, Ashleigh, 11, Edith, 2 and Elsie, 4 which has meant home schooling in lockdown!

We recently converted our basement to create more space for us as a family, but also it has meant with the girls at home we have a dedicated workspace where Charlotte and I can focus without interruption. We tend to take it in turns to use this workspace, I do the mornings and then Charlotte swaps for the afternoon.

We’re both organised which helps, perhaps Charlotte more than me! You’ll find Charlotte teaching phonics in the morning which leaves me to the more creative learning with the girls in the afternoon. For example, the other day we played musical statues where we had numbered post-it notes on the floor, when the music stopped, they had to add their numbers together.

How has Old Mill supported you and Charlotte in achieving your goals?

Old Mill has been incredibly supportive, I had my oldest daughter Ashleigh in a previous relationship and back in 2014 I came across our guidance on flexible working, I felt that both Ashleigh and I would benefit from having greater flexibility and I could spend quality time with her during the week as well as at weekends. I think I was the first male at Old Mill to put in a request and I was really pleased that it was accepted. With lockdown and a global pandemic, this has transformed our working life as we know it. Flexible working is now just the norm and hopefully it will remain that way, seven years ago it wasn’t as frequently taken up, especially by men! Charlotte also works flexibly which has enabled her to push forward with her career whilst allowing her time with the girls, it shouldn’t have to be one or the other if that’s what you want, it’s what works for you, your family and your life goals.

It’s not just about the flexibility in working flexibly either, I have a great team around me who are extremely supportive and appreciate and understand how important family time is. In the pensions team we’re a mix of women and men, and it’s really important to me that we are all treated equally, whilst being able to support and encourage each other both at home and within our careers at Old Mill.

A bold question, if you could turn back time, would you have considered shared parental leave?

That’s an interesting question! It’s more a financial decision, sometimes you’re forced to take a practical view, rightly or wrongly, but it does come down to personal finances. In our situation, it was important for Charlotte to have that time with both girls.

What do you think about Charlotte’s role?

I’m very proud of Charlotte! I’m so envious of how she fits in so much, she’s so organised, caring and hardworking, a brilliant role model to our girls.


Thanks for talking to us Steve and showing your support for International Women’s Day, it’s been really interesting to see how you and Charlotte work together to achieve your goals.