Posted: 08 Mar. 2021 5 min. read

#ChooseToChallenge gender stereotypes and assumptions

Lucy Hetherington, who leads Deloitte’s South West and Wales Gender Balance Network, talks about how she is challenging gender stereotypes and assumptions through her work with the regional diversity network.

The last 12 months really has been a year of change for all of us, including everyone within our internal diversity network. In August we changed from being called the “South West & Wales Women’s Network” - a name we’d had for 14 years - to the more accurate and inclusive name of “South West & Wales Gender Balance Network”, or the “SWW GBN” in short. We’re still a forum for colleagues to raise issues and offer solutions relevant to gender balance in the workplace, I’m confident this name change and our revised strategy will encourage more people to join our network, incorporate a healthy diversity of views in our dialogue around gender issues, and challenge our thinking. Afterall, how can we have a conversation about gender diversity if we don’t invite all genders to the conversation?

International Men’s Day

I was keen to use our name change as an opportunity to push for events that targeted all sides of gender balance. In my view the best way to drive gender equality is for all genders to become fully involved and supportive of each another. I believe that it’s important to recognise the struggles that we all face in topics such as abiding by gender normalities and maternity/paternity leave.

I am proud that this year we were the first branch of the Deloitte network to formally celebrate International Men’s Day in November 2020. As a network we ran a panel event with colleagues across the region from a range of service lines and grades. We heard from male colleagues about some of the issues and challenges they face both as men and whilst working at Deloitte. I feel this has enabled ongoing debate around topics such as paternity leave, male mental health and gender stereotypes which will place Deloitte at the forefront of Gender discussions and policies nationally.

I hope that by hosting such a formal event we were able give male colleagues the platform to share their experiences. This was particularly appropriate as the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives and mental health of all colleagues and so I feel it is important to have created an opportunity for everyone to have a voice.

Diversity networks

As part of my role this year I aim to start a dialogue and create a community between all of our South West & Wales internal diversity networks that have all been operating independently. There are such benefits to gain from intersectionality which I want us to discover together. I feel very lucky to be part of a company with such a diverse workforce and to have the appropriate networks to support them. I have found linking up with the other diversity groups who champion race, sexuality, ability wellbeing and working families to be invaluable. I have arranged regular meetings between all our region’s diversity networks to ensure communication and collaboration continues so we can learn from each other’s experiences and challenges.

International Women’s Day

My current focus for the SWW GBN is International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, a global event celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. As a national network we see this as an opportunity to focus on the work still required to achieve gender equality in, and out, of the workplace. This event belongs to everyone - not just to women.

This year for International Women’s Day, our region is proud to have made an impact on the national campaign. Our regional idea was to ask our members to set themselves a challenge to be completed throughout the month of February based on the international theme of “choose to challenge”. This was subsequently adopted as Deloitte’s national campaign. I look forward to offering our members a whole month of calendar events which have been created with both national and local input. This includes our regional co-sponsored event with GLOBE, our LGBTQ+ network.

I feel as a regional network we will be able to benefit from the current virtual world through gaining access to all internal and external events rather than being limited to those just being held in the region. I hope the frequency of virtual events or streaming of live events online become the norm in the future to provide our regional network with an ever-wider range of opportunities.

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