Breaking the Bias

Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

This International Women’s Day we share our commitment to Breaking The Bias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field. Action from us all.

We believe that co-ops and community business, organisations with values and communities at their hearts, are perfectly placed to be part of the change we want to see. Frequently formed from communities, they fundamentally understand that to serve and represent all, we need to consult all. We know that we, and the organisations we seek to support, can’t be inclusive if women aren’t involved in decision making.

Since 2021, we have been working behind the scenes to accelerate our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. One of our newest Directors, Jaye Martin, says,

I look at my small, formidable, daughter and feel hopeful for the future, before getting depressed again because it’s 2022 and we are still having the same conversations about inclusivity, the gender pay gap, the lack of women in leadership roles… etc.

No-one has had a good pandemic but women have been disproportionately badly affected by job losses in the retail and hospitality sectors or being forced out of the labour market due to stress, burnout, and lack of childcare options.

Co-ops and community businesses could and should be a catalyst to help get women back into work and employment on a more sustainable footing and with purpose and values at the core.

As the original and best lender for co-ops in the UK, Co-operative and Community Finance has an important role to play in leading by example – ensuring its Board and staff team are reflective of wider society and the communities and businesses it serves.  I’m therefore very happy to be one of three female trustees appointed to the Board of CCF last year in a drive to recruit a more inclusive cross-section of voluntary trustees to inform and steer CCF’s future policy and strategy.  

If your co-ops or community business wants to Break the Bias, employ more women, or do business with more women, ask yourself – what do we offer women? What do women see when they look at us, our website. Who is in the photos? Who wrote the words and who do they speak to? It might sound strange but language is encoded with hidden meaning.

Try this – find a staff or job advert either that your co-op or community business has shared, or in job listings online. Then run it though this checker which looks for gendered language. That’s just one of the many tools out there that can help us all Break The Bias.