We celebrate diversity and champion equality every day at Runway East. But as it’s International Women’s Day, it seems like a great excuse to shout about it a little louder.
Strong female leaders aren’t in short supply in our gang so we had a chat to some of them to dig a little deeper this IWD.
We sat down with Natasha Guerra (our amazing CEO), Kreena Pithwa (our incredible Membership Lead) and Hannah Whidborne (our brilliant Head of Operations). This year’s IWD theme is #breakthebias. We chatted about how they tackle gender inequality in their everyday life and how Runway East culture helps this, the challenges they’ve faced and what they’d tell their younger selves.
Equality and opportunity are at the heart of Runway East. And we’re tackling gender bias in a number of ways. One is how we carry out our hiring process. For instance when we’re checking candidates for vacancies, we keep them anonymous so names don’t give anything away about them.
Over half of our team are women and diversity is really important to us. And we take steps to ensure things stay equitable after people join us — such as completing gender pay reviews often.
There are a lot of challenges for women in business, particularly in an industry like property. But one great thing about it is that you get invited to things you might otherwise never get a foot in the door for. Sitting in a room with 8 men over 50 and me is a great opportunity I’m not going to turn down — even when sometimes I’m only invited to make up the quota! The main thing is to seize the opportunities you can and know your worth.
For me, I’d say at Runway East I’ve never felt as if gender has held me back. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many strong female figures within our company and having a female CEO has always felt like a step in the right direction.
Naturally, gender inequality exists around us regardless of how visible it may seem. Being able to show confidence and back myself in certain situations has always been a way to break that bias and remember what we really bring to the table.
I’ve caught myself downplaying my own successes or abilities, but being surrounded by such a supportive and uplifting team helps me to champion those wins more.
Within any role, a few natural challenges arise with being a female leader. But I’ve found being able to focus on some of the “typical” attributes that female leaders exhibit has really helped show strength in what previously may have seemed like a weakness. For example, showing empathy, humility and providing support in certain situations has allowed me to approach more difficult conversations and find solutions a lot quicker. And this can help to open up more opportunities for the women around us too. It’s really important for women to support and empower other women in business.
I’d want to tell my younger self not to sweat the little things. Things that are meant to happen will always find their way to you. You can create the magic in any situation.
Within RWE, I feel supported and encouraged to be a leader by my manager and team. There’s no male-dominated atmosphere here at all — it’s how you demonstrate your skills that helps you progress.
Having said that, I’ve had conversations with contractors in the past where they would rather speak to a man in the company. It’s as if they don't trust me or don’t think I know what I’m talking about (regardless of mine or their position in the company). It’s frustrating but I don’t let it stop me, if anything it makes me push harder to show what I can do and achieve!
To my younger self, I’d say believe in yourself and have the confidence to speak up. Your voice is as valuable as anyone else’s in the room.