International Women's day

Business leaders in Westminster on Tuesday, International Women’s Day, to pledge to take steps against gender inequality in the workplace.

Banqueting Hall played host to over 300 people for a special event organised by South Westminster Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).

Business improvement districts within Victoria and Whitehall provide economic support for the area, including 43,000 jobs and generates £1.3 billion in GVA.

Ruth Duston, CEO of South Westminster BIDs, called on businesses to do their part to ‘break the bias’.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be here with so many men and women, because it’s all about how we inspire each other.

“I think we owe it to the women who fought so hard for equality that we see this year’s theme for International Women’s Day as a call to action.

“It can not just be something that only women talk about but should be a priority for all, and for employers to ensure they can attract and retain the best talent, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion.”

In a survey of 1000 Londoners, only 59% of women said they were paid fairly for what they do, with less than half agreeing that they had equal prospects for career progression as men.

Image: Combination Dance at Banqueting Hall. Credit: Combination Dance.

The event was fronted by the premiere of a special commissioned dance, “Sisterhood” performed by award winning Richmond based group Combination Dance, choreographed by artistic director Anne-Marie Smalldon.

The routine took inspiration from several leading female figures including Marie Curie, Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart, but also spoke to more recent issues such as women emerging from the pandemic, and also featured some baby dolls in slings in a message to call for more childcare accessibility.

Image: IWD panel. Credit: South Westminster Business Alliance.

The performance was followed by a discussion from a guest panel chaired by journalist and broadcaster Marverine Cole joined by Liz Bingham OBE, Rico Jacob Chace, Flavilla Fongang and Vicky Pryce.

Key to the panel was the message that better practice, such as having more women in senior roles and more flexible work opportunities, wasn’t just the right thing for social justice, but of huge benefit to companies financially.

Fongang said: “Diversity isn’t an act of kindness.

“It’s good business.”

Main image credit: South Westminster Business Alliance.

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