In celebration of International Women’s Day 2023, we invited three of Liverpool’s industry-leading women to share their career journeys, advice, obstacles, and triumphs with a room of 60-plus guests.
Guest speakers were Jernice Easthope, TV Producer and Founder of Black Girls Brunch, Charlie Arnott, Alliance Partnership Manager across the UK, Ireland, and Nordics for Jamf, and Rebecca Loy, Diversity & Inclusion Partner for National Museums Liverpool.
The panel was hosted by Cynthia Ajayi, Media, Marketing, and Communications Coordinator for The Women’s Org.
From their experiences across various industries, our guests provided unique viewpoints on navigating male or female-dominated workplaces, breaking barriers, and seeking role models. As it turned out, they had a lot in common!
For those who were not able to attend, here’s a brief summary of our panel event.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme was #embraceequity. While equality means providing the same to all, equity recognises that not everyone starts from the same place. Embracing equity means making adjustments to imbalances to create fair and equal opportunities.
It was this theme that The Women’s Org. CEO Maggie O’Carroll addressed in her opening speech. ‘Everyone can embrace equity’ she says, ‘not just women.’ She went on to address the shift in discrimination against women. Although we are moving forward, ‘it is not half quick enough.’
Forging a career path
Presenter Cynthia Ajayi opened the panel with a question on how the three guests came to their current careers.
Jernice graduated with a degree in Media from Liverpool John Moore’s University before becoming a youth worker. As a youth worker, she was inspired to create UrBeatz, a youth culture company run by black creatives that engage young people in multi-media projects. Jernice is now an award winning documentary and TV Producer and has worked in multiple roles on shows such as X-factor, Ross Kemp on Gangs and Dragon’s Den.
With two disabled parents, Rebecca Loy told the room how she was a child and carer at the same time. Studying an MA in Philosophy and currently carrying out a PhD in Sociology & Social policy, Rebecca has pursued charity and youth work as well as teaching before her current position as Diversity & Inclusion Partner at National Museums Liverpool.
Charlie Arnott worked at Apple for 13 years, leading multiple successful teams across commercial sales and account management. She was the first woman in Apple to lead a tech team of 60 men, giving her a unique insight into career progression in a male-dominated industry.
Charlie opened up that after battling cancer, she refocused her career priorities and took a position with Jamf. Her triumphs included being responsible for partnerships with four tech giants and her role as Vice President of Jamf’s Women Employee Resource Group.
Equity & challenges in the workplace
‘How do we change hearts and put a focus on human values when addressing diversity & inclusion?’ This was one of the many impactful questions raised by Rebecca when discussing enacting change in the workplace. ‘Creating cultural change is a challenge I face. Inclusion is giving others the respect you have for yourself and providing a safe space for people to belong. As a woman, it is providing equity for women.’
She also offered advice to those dealing with frustration in the workplace when trying to make important changes, saying ‘a moment of frustration can mean you are about to have an impact because you can see what the issues are.’
Rebecca went on to address how stereotypes can be used to silence those in the workplace, such as ‘the angry black woman trope.’ Jernice also shared how she is aware that stereotypes and assumptions can spread in the media industry. ‘Being black, working class and scouse can get spread around fast in the industry but I am mindful of who we work with. Society places women at a disadvantage but it is about looking sideways and trying to reach that glass ceiling.’
Leading a team of 30 men in her current position, Charlie shared her personal challenges on navigating a male-dominated industry and how this is intensified in a leadership position. ‘I am rarely asked for my opinion, but I always consider ways of how I can make policy changes. A challenge for me is still being in a room and not being heard.’
When asked by our CEO Maggie about how their families have influenced their lives and attitudes, each panel member expressed the importance their families have had in supporting them, in particular their mothers. ‘My mum is unbelievable,’ shared Jernice. ‘Being a white lady who brought up mixed-race children, we received a lot of house vandalism, and my mum taught me how to have tough skin.’
Having a visually impaired mother, Rebecca talked about how both her parents showed resilience in the face of challenges, sharing how, incredibly, her mother taught her colours by memorising the shape and feel of coloured toy trains.
Charlie added that her mother taught her about the importance of education and resilience by going back to university and rebuilding her career while raising her two kids. ‘She restarted her whole career and taught me to walk out of a job if I did not like it.’
Career advice & mentors
The final topic covered the importance of mentorship and how you can find yours, with Rebecca referencing female-specific challenges. ‘Women have been brought up to apologise when asking for what they want … there is nothing wrong in going up to people and asking them to mentor you.’
Charlie stressed that you should never underestimate what you bring to the table in a mentor relationship. ‘Find someone you can trust and be yourself to 100%… always reflect on how you can be a mentor to others.’
The day closed with a chance for our guests to network. It was incredible to meet and learn from so many amazing women and we can’t thank both our panel and attendees enough for making the day what it truly should be – a celebration of women leading the way for other women across many arenas.
Here at the Women’s Org, International Women’s Day is not just a once-a-year celebration. We endeavour to support and uplift women from all walks of life every day of the year. Our range of programmes covers personal development, business start-up and growth, and career development.
See all future events at The Women’s Organisation here.
For more information on how we can help you contact our team today at 0151 707 8111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org