Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber embraces equity to mark International Women’s Day
Representatives from across South Yorkshire’s business community came together in the grand surroundings of Wentworth Woodhouse to deliver one simple message: achieving true inclusion requires action.
In a message echoed at similar events taking place throughout the world to mark International Women’s Day, held annually on the 8th of March the lunch, saw members of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce come together to celebrate the achievements of women in the workplace.
Using the theme #embraceequity, an ideal shared by organisations across the world, this year’s International Women’s Day aimed to illustrate that equal opportunities aren’t enough: to create a fairer society, businesses need to create an environment that helps their employees prosper, one which responds to addressing imbalances across society.
During the lunch event, which was sponsored and supported by AESSEAL, delegates heard from four of South Yorkshire’s senior women who shared personal and inspirational journeys.
Master Cutler Dame Julie Kenny DBE DL, just the second Lady Master Cutler in the 400-year history of the Cutlers’ Company; gave an inspirational talk on her association with Wentworth Woodhouse, her beginnings in South Yorkshire and the trials and tribulations which made her the business leader she is today.
Kelly Wooller, Managing Director of ACW Medical Services, a registered paramedic, and British Army veteran; spoke of the biases she faced whilst serving in the military as a frontline medic and furthermore as paramedic in the NHS. Through overcoming misogyny aimed at her from her peers, Kelly defiantly set up her own successful business, which recently won the most promising new business award at the 2022 Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber Business Awards.
Claire Dickinson, Finance Director of Rotherham-based AESSEAL; talked of the importance of adapting to changing roles within organisations, and how bringing together these experiences can be a strength for women entering back into work after maternity leave. Claire outlined her career at AESSEAL, the progressive culture instilled at the group and how having the courage to try new roles can create well-rounded employees who can be an asset to any business.
Finally Sue Wynne, Chief Executive of Rotherham Rise, which is also the Chambers Charity of the Year, gave an update on the crucial role Rotherham Rise plays in South Yorkshire. Sue outlined the support they provide to victims of domestic abuse and importantly how businesses can get involved with the Charity through donations and aid.
Hosted by Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber’s Chief Executive Designate Carrie Sudbury, in her first official engagement since assuming her new role in the organisation, the event was opened by BBC Radio Sheffield presenter Sile Sibanda with a poem on embracing equity.
Carrie Sudbury, Chief Executive Designate, Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber, said:
“We all have a role to play in creating a fairer, more equal society, and International Women’s Day plays a vital part in not just celebrating how far we have come, but how far we still need to go.
Just 16% of SMEs and less than a third of all senior roles in some of Britain’s biggest companies are held by women, which clearly shows there is still a long way to go to address the gender imbalance within the business community. Events like International Women’s Day have typically sought to celebrate the achievements of women in the workplace, but as this year’s theme illustrated, there is still much more work to do.
We all have a role to play when it comes to challenging stereotypes, calling out discrimination, and by coming together to celebrate achievements, sharing stories that offer inspiration in the face of adversity, I hope that collectively, we can all play a part in driving positive change across South Yorkshire’s business community.”