Rebecca Shelley on the importance of International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is an important time to reflect. The last few years have seen tremendous global momentum gathered behind the women’s equality movement – an energy which hasn’t been felt, arguably, for a generation. 2018 marked 100 years since women were given the right to vote, and it is evident that real progress has been made over the last century - but I can’t help feeling that there is still much more to achieve. At ARRACO, we’re a relatively new organisation with an exciting future ahead of us, and as we grow and expand internationally the opportunity is there for us to do things differently.

As I look back to 1990, with my recent undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Literature, I found myself in the City in a role and sector that I didn’t expect - Financial Communications. As I walked around, there were few women and those who were there were largely in administrative roles. Attitudes were different back then: women were expected to pour the tea in meetings and to be at the beck and call of their male counterparts. I knew I had to change this for my own career path, and I worked hard to be supported by my employer to do an MBA.

I faced many different challenges through my career, but these can play a defining role based on how you respond to them - it’s about how you adapt and make the most of them. My advice to any ambitious female graduates starting their career journey is that it’s essential to work hard, to be part of the team and never stop learning. You’ll find that more doors will open for you than remain closed.

This is not just a women’s agenda – our culture at ARRACO is genuinely meritocratic, with true intellectual diversity, as well as being representative. We need men onside too, so we are all challenging stereotypes, confronting bias and championing equality.

The progress towards gender equality in the workplace in the last three decades is a testament to a broader shift in attitudes. I am delighted that fathers today have a lot more ambition for their daughters and encourage them to pursue any career they choose, and to be the best they can.

We have come a long way since my first day in the City thirty years ago. At ARRACO I'm proud to know that I’m part of an organisation that is working towards being part of the solution, as opposed to one that is reinforcing the problem. We are not complacent – we know there is much more to do. With the courage, collaboration and openness which is at the heart of our culture, we hope to lead the way in driving change in our sector.

Rebecca Shelley

Non-Executive Director


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