The West Country Women Awards – where recognition is key! From all walks of life, every corner of our communities, our goal is to celebrate the achievements & triumphs of women across the region.
It is being run by Alexis Bowater OBE, journalist, broadcaster and women’s campaigner, and award-winning businesswoman Tess Stuber. They have now a new mission, and they want you on board, because this time it’s not just about business, it’s about everybody’s business!
We interviewed one of our finalists, Lucy Findlay MBE from Social Enterprise Mark Company CIC, on what Diversity and Equality means to her and who has:
Founded Social Enterprise Mark’s Women’s Leadership Network in 2021
Helped to develop the Disability Employment mark with DWP for Local Authorities and Social Enterprises.
Supported and advised the Global Equality Collective in launching the Gender Equality Charter
Been named as one of the top 100 women in Social Enterprise both in UK and internationally
What does diversity and equality mean to you?
Equality is about ensuring that everyone has access to the same life opportunities no matter their background, race, gender, disability, sexuality. I prefer the word equity as it suggests fairness and impartiality. Diversity means celebrating and acknowledging difference and the richness that those with different experiences bring to the table.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate and champion diversity and equality?
For too long the world has heard the voices of a few with very narrow experiences of life, driving out the voices of the many and the disenfranchised. We need to hear and understand those shut out of conversations to tackle the biggest challenges of our time – rampant global inequality and climate change.
What had been your experience in advocating for diversity and equality in your professional and personal life?
I think labelling can be very unhelpful – in life we go through different experiences and face different issues at different times. I have experienced disability but I can’t speak for ‘disabled people’. I am a woman, but I don’t speak for all women. There are certain assumptions made, for instance, if you are a woman you must have experienced childcare or caring responsibilities. These assumptions can make you feel that you don’t fit and are excluding in themselves. We need the freedom to be ourselves and to be accepted by society for who we are rather than the labels that society puts on us.
Why do you think it is vital for employers to prioritise diversity and equality in the workplace?
From a purely commercial point of view, it’s good for business to ensure that your products and services are not just appealing and responding to a very limited market. It is also important for business to reflect the wider community it operates in. In the case of social enterprises diversity helps us identify and create solutions to the poverty and injustices in society that are not being addressed, or in some cases being made worse by the market (and often the government!).
Why do you think awards like the West County Women Awards are important?
It’s important to recognise the amazing work that women are doing. Women are often too modest about their achievements and get overlooked. We need to blow our own trumpets more! Awards give a higher profile for the amazing work that is happening in the West Country too.