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8th of March is International Women's Day (IWD) and this year's official theme is #ChooseToChallenge, calling for a gender-equal world. It's all about encouraging people to actively challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve opportunities and celebrate women's achievements. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge.

 

CPM International Contact Centre is a strong supporter of IWD and we are engaging with all our colleagues, suppliers, clients and business communities to raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.  CPM is committed to fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces where all employees, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, disability or experience feel comfortable and confident in bringing their whole selves to work, with equal access to professional opportunities.

 

This year we have invited five extraordinary female colleagues to share their thoughts about the challenges for gender equality, how they #ChooseToChallenge the status quo and where they find inspiration.

 

 

Karon_KaramavrouKARON KARAMAVROU, People Director at CPM ICC

 

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the gender gap?

I would say that if I look across several types of roles or sectors we can still see there is a predominance of one gender over another, you could take HR as an example of this. As a society, we need to get past the idea that certain jobs are typically a ‘man thing’ or ‘woman thing’, this then leads us to exclude 50% of our talent pools across specific roles and sectors which then leads us struggling to find great talent in already small pool at times. I believe the topic of gender equality in the workplace has never been more relevant.

 

How do you choose to challenge the status quo?

As a HR professional leading a People Team, I am in a unique position to champion gender diversity through effective change alongside coaching my team and colleagues through people focused topics such as:

• How to avoid gender bias when hiring
• Reviewing performance and retention
• Branding which is our strongest recruitment tool
• Promote gender-inclusive policies
• Cultivate internal career paths

 

Which female inspires you?

I have found inspiration, through so many women throughout my life and career, whether it´s my own mother, friends, colleagues or peers. There are so many inspirational women across the globe who through their courage have challenged, shaped and questioned the status quo, all of which led to significant changes to roles and rights of women. Which as a woman I am eternally grateful it certainly has shaped my personal journey.

 

Mariya_BurenkovaMARIYA BURENKOVA, Talent Acquisition Team Leader at CPM ICC

 

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the gender gap?

Even though there has been a big progress, the fact that we have this type of initiatives is a sign that there is still a lot of work to do. One of the biggest challenges for the gender gap that we encounter in the workplace, in my opinion, comes from the educational systems of many countries while we still have the idea that certain education programs are addressed to male audience while others are considered for female students. As a consequence, there is a lack of female talent pool in sectors such as IT, Tech, Political sciences among many others leading into economic gender gap. Interestingly, reports show that not only women’s attendance to higher education institutions is higher than men’s but so is their performance.

 

How do you choose to challenge the status quo?

As part of the recruitment team in CPM, we’re proudly committed to take a diverse approach to any hiring process. It’s important to encourage and provide more opportunities at all levels and in all sectors. Detecting bias in common workplace situations, discussing and sharing our experiences helps to create an inclusive workplace culture that is key to attract and retain female talent. Women in leadership inspire other women to succeed.

 

Which female inspires you?

There are many but Serena Williams is just to mention one, not only because of her legendary career and achievements. She had to face and overcome challenges based on her race, physique and gender. Serena’s story is a good example of resilience and mental strength that made her become one of the greatest athletes of all times.

 

 

Hannah_WallHANNAH WALL, Brand Advisor at CPM ICC

 

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the gender gap?

I feel that as women, we are conditioned to be polite, never say too much, never be too assertive, observe rather than speak. I find more women are afraid that they won’t be taken seriously. If a woman spoke out about her ideas firmly, responded efficiently and with assertiveness, she would be deemed bossy and high maintenance. However, if a male was to respond the same way, no one would bat an eye lid. Sexism may have seemed to have died down with current affairs and the world evolving, but even now, comments and jokes are made. People think they are harmless but as a woman, you get a reputation for yourself, if you call out that sexism. Comments like “Oh here we go”, “ooh feminism”, “don’t say that around her, she’ll have something to say”... These are comments that I have had aimed at me before. Even if it is a “joke”. It’s not that funny. I think it’s a shame that people think it's funny to joke about something at someone else’s expense, but women need to challenge these comments because comments as such reflect poor education. Women work hard for their gender, to be taken seriously, on top of getting paid equally.

 

How do you choose to challenge the status quo?

Always speaking up and being involved. I feel that when you work hard on your ideas, you have a right to voice them. I want to teach my little girl that she never has to be silenced in any company, female or male. Everyone has the capacity to be successful and there is enough space for everyone to have a voice.

 

Which female inspires you?

Sophia Amaruso - Sophia is a self-made entrepreneur, that endured many failures and back lash during building her empire. She founded “Nasty Gal”. Her ambition and focus never stopped from day one, and her story is so fascinating to me. I read this book and it automatically gave me hope and inspiration. I love hearing about women that have built their success, it makes me feel proud to be a woman to see these women achieve their goals, no matter how big.

 

The Women's Bakery - I also got the chance to work with some amazing women that started a non-profit social enterprise in Rwanda called “The Women's Bakery”. Their mission is to empower women from East Asia, educate them and bake good food for nutrition value. Women of Rwanda became the dominate gender after the genocide of 1994. Hearing the stories of these women and how they had to rebuild their country was very inspiring. Again, educating themselves and building businesses to help their economy thrive. That shows strength. That strength should be celebrated. Businesses like these, ran by women like I have mentioned, really show the younger generation that we do have a chance and there is space for us.

 

 

Eleni_KikezouELENI KIKEZOU, Brand Advisor at CPM ICC

 

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the gender gap?

Education: is the most important key to develop women and make them aware of their rights and how to get their rights because when you educate women you are educating the whole nation.
• War:  women are seen as weak and they stay home taking care of the kids, fetching for food to feed the family by farming or doing small business just for one meal, which means they lose the chance of education which makes them weak and can’t make further progress.
• Lack of employment equality, for instance in military ranks.
• Job segregation.
• Lack of legal protections especially in the 3rd world.
• Poor medical care, based on maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rates.
• Lack of religious freedom.
• Lack of political representation.
• Sexual assault.
• Gender differences in degree choices.
Overall gender issues include all aspects and concerns related to women's and men's lives and situation in society, to the way they interrelate, their differences in access to and use of resources, their activities, and how they react to changes, interventions and policies.

 

How do you choose to challenge the status quo?

When you raise up your voice —not so that you can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.
• You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
• Gender is an important consideration in development. It is a way of looking at how social norms and power structures impact on the lives and opportunities available to different groups of men and women. Globally, more women than men live in poverty.
• Create a global group for women in the social media to interact and support each other.
• Share household chores and childcare equality.
• Watch for signs of domestic violence.
• Reject Chauvinist and racist attitudes.
• Help women gain power.
• Listen and reflect.
• Hire Diversity.
• Pay and demand the same salary for equal work.
• Support each other to have an equal diversity which means overall besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Moreover, it has been shown that empowering women spurs productivity and economic growth.

 

Which female inspires you?

My younger sister Dr. Georgia Kikezou, she's become a cardiology doctor now despite all the difficulties.

We used to live a good life in South Sudan (Africa), but after the war in the country in 1981 we had to fly to North Sudan, where majority of the population are Muslim and our family is Christian. My sister did her best to study after the Greek community accepted her in school, where she achieved the highest grades and the Greek government granted her a scholarship. As we are mixed, she faced a lot of uncomfortable talk and racism in Greece. Her strength and dedication was very high and she work half day to cover her cost of living, sometimes sleeping only 2-3 hrs a day. With her strength, power and our family love she managed to overcome everything and she is now working in a well known military hospital in Athens. She has truly inspired me, and moreover,  she proved to all the community and other ladies how to achieve goals no matter the challenges or inequality you face.
"Believe it can be done because if there is a will there is a way".

 

 

Huda_OmranHUDA OMRAN, Brand Advisor at CPM ICC

 

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for the gender gap?

Gender gap can be explained by referring to socio-behaviours. Considering my background and being raised in a world that believes that men are more valued in any sort of economic and political engagements, I believe it is the main cause of gender inequality in certain societies. When girls being raised differently from boys, they will grow up enduring low self esteem and find it very hard to prove themselves in a mixed society.
There are certain societies that prioritise the education of men over women, believing that women do not add to the economy, and are traditionally raised with the belief that a woman's purpose in life is to look after her parents or siblings and to raise kids and look after their husbands. A lot of women struggle to balance between their household domestic chores and education.
They have planted beliefs that work and education is not a priority, and the problem is that at any stage, any imbalance of the family life will cause those women insecurities and a feeling of guilt, which eventually can lead to imposter syndromes toward her family commitments, which in due course will impact any progress or competence in any other field outside her home, literally living a vicious never ending cycle.
If we think of women empowerment and how to participate in any social, economic or political practices, then we need to begin from the start, and think of her up bringing first. To start preparing her from childhood so she can believe in her valuable role in participating in the social environment, and to believe she can also contribute in economic growth.

 

How do you choose to challenge the status quo?

• Stand up for our rights and call at any circumstances.
• Consider rights to education.
• Rights in marriage and equal responsibilities.
• Build digital capacities.
• Right to employment
• Political participation

"We need to keep standing up for our rights as women, by embracing our differences and needs."

 

Which female inspires you?

Loujain al-Hathloul, an activist in Saudi Arabia.
I am impressed with the powerful move of Loujain al-Hathoul, a Saudi girl who lost 3 years of her life in Saudi prisons. She was tortured and assaulted, plus psychologically tortured due to prolonged separation from her family. She was in jail for standing up for womens rights, driving  a car and leaving the country.
She once live-tweeted herself driving into the country from the United Arab Emirates – and was detained and kept for questioning by the police for 73 days as a result. Today she is out of prison, but she is not free – she is still on probation, still to a travel ban, and unable to express herself.
But it is not only Loujaine, more women are locked up in jail due to campaigning for equality.
However, Loujain and her fellow activists scored a victory for women’s rights when the driving ban was finally lifted in June 2018.

 

 

We would like to thank each of our colleagues for sharing and raising their voice as part of the ongoing call-to-action to challenge gender parity and inequality and celebrate women's achievements. This is a collective effort and as part of our overall Diversity and Inclusion approach, CPM is committed to challenging the status quo, 'raising our hand' and working across our business to ensure a safe, equal and inclusive workplace for all. We #ChoosetoChallenge!

 

 

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