So it’s International Women’s Day 2020 today! #IWD2020 Yeah! While I believe in celebrating women and the contributions we make to the world and society at large daily, I’m always pleased when the day rolls around. This year’s theme is equality, or #EachforEqual. I actually have an experience of being a woman in the world, battling for equality personally that I thought I’d share.
So let’s step back many years ago I was a pregnant woman in my late twenties, working extremely hard in the work place. One as my department was being restructured and my co-workers and I was at risk of redundancy, two the department was in a shit load of mess anyway! And me being typical me, I wanted to do what I could to help clean it up. We all had to in away reapply for our jobs, to ‘prove’ our worth to not be selected for redundancy and have our jobs merged so some went jobless. It was very stressful I tell you! Especially while pregnant I feared for my growing family’s stability.
While all this was going on, just before I started my maternity leave I started to take on ‘extra responsibilities’ in the work place, I was doing my job and another. And, yes you guessed it I wasn’t being paid for taking on the roles of a job above me. I was not even formally asked to take on the extra work, it was just dumped on my desk by management. We had a change of management also. A man stepped in, one who had a reputation of being very harsh, unfriendly, awkward, not a people person or in any way emotionally intelligent and a ‘hard task master’. The whole organisation was in such a mess, and going down hill I think they brought him in to try and ‘shake things up’. He never bothered me as I thought well I’m on leave soon, and anyway it’s not like I don’t do my job and then some, so whatever! Is all I thought. So anyway I did what I could, stressed, worried and about to give birth any time soon, I was in the final weeks of pregnancy.
While on maternity leave the department was restructured, I did keep my job, but during the restructure of the organisation and department the job that I was doing ( the extra part with no pay) ,was made into an actual new role. With higher pay and more clout… so they notified everyone internally and I heard via post ( as they legally had to tell everyone who remained an employee of that department). Naturally, I put in an application for the job. Why not right? I was doing the job for nothing, no pay or anything! Before I went on maternity leave, I did it well even though I was very stressed and glad to get out of the place. I also was highly qualified for the role, in terms of experience and academic achievement etc.
This happened a few weeks before I was due to return from maternity leave. When I did return from leave, I found out I was not even shortlisted for an interview. *face palm* Hold on a minute…. who was doing that job before leave? Unpaid? And helped to clear up a lot of the mess left, by employees that really didn’t give a hoot, left, and just were down right lazy? Muggins here, me that’s who!
Yeah, I put my male boss on the spot about it one day when I returned and asked, “why was I not shortlisted for an interview at least?” Do you know what that ass-hole told me, “you’ve been on maternity leave that’s why, you can’t do the job?” I raised an eyebrow and left him to run his mouth as I knew then and there, I was filing a claim for discrimination on the grounds of gender, and maternity leave. Totally illegal in employment legislation. Lucky, one of my master’s degrees covered law too… ya girl was clued up! I dread to think what would have happened, if I were a female who never understood the laws of discrimination in the work place.
So once my sexist, abrupt, white, discriminatory, male manager ran his mouth, I smiled sweetly and said, “okay, just to confirm because I’ve been away exercising a right that I was entitled to legally, as a woman, you’re telling me you decided not to shortlist me for an interview, and dismiss me for a job that I was already doing and can prove I was, before I went on maternity leave?” His face went pale, and he said, ” yes, you’ve been away.” I stopped there, went home then drafted up my complaint for inequality, sex and gender discrimination in the work place against my boss.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but did it turn into a legal battle? You bet your bottom dollar it did? Did I win my case against my boss and this organisation? You bet I did! And I was proud to present my case and win! I felt a sense of justice not just for myself, but for all the woman around the world over looked for jobs, by employers using measurements that impact on only them as a demographic of society, and therefore they miss out. By being marginalised and excluded from promotion, pay, and career progression. It was inequality and discrimination at its worst! So many laws are out there against this, it’s not just race the common one we hear about.
I ended up during my battle being head hunted for a better job than the one I had applied for, with better pay! I had an interview and got it. I left that piss-poor organisation a happy woman, who fought for justice, and never looked back.
Moral of the story is, in this day and age there is still a lot of work to be done for women when it comes to equality. Any statistic will tell you that, pay, promotion, etc. It makes ugly reading when you go through all the write ups, articles, and research into discrimination around women and equality. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted to read it, and to have experienced this a young woman myself, working hard, trying to balance work and life. And not miss out on the wonderful chance to be a mother, in fear of missing out on career progression.
So many woman are faced with this decision I was in, do I start a family and risk taking leave that I am entitled to? Or put it off and stay at work? At the time as a woman in my late twenties I was proud of my achievements I was being paid well for my age, but did not let that stop me from the decision to take a long period of maternity leave I was legally entitled to and have a wonderful new chapter of my life open up.
From this experience I’ve learned first hand how we can be overlooked in the work place, at times I asked myself if I had not taken maternity leave, would my male manager have shortlisted me anyway? Based on his track record, and reputation he had would he have wanted to even have placed a woman in that job that was created? Would he have felt “I could not do the job because of who I am?” Anyway, fuck him, and any employer or manager like him. All I know is, my name is one he’ll never forget. And I hope he has learned from the professional discipline he experienced, from bringing the organisation into a legal dispute, based on his discriminatory views against woman in the work place… the shit bag! Fuck him!
Have a wonderful International Women’s Day 2020 #IWD2020 and let’s continue to fight for #EachforEqual in whatever way you feel is needed, at work, in life and just generally.
I’d also like to take a moment to shout out these females who I respect to the max, for their outspoken, feisty, female empowering lyrical content…
P!ink- what a rock star, love you and your personality from the bottom of my heart. I have been to every London based concert you’ve done, and I love how you fight for what’s right!
Christina Aguilera- “Can’t Hold us Down” is an anthem of female empowerment that never sounds old! Thank you for those words. “Fall in Line” is such a great song of empowerment, and the way you sing it you can’t help but feel the uplifting energy for us women!
Beyonce- You’re just a boss when it comes to females staying on top!! Some of your songs have really resonated over the years.
Sia- “Unstoppable” when I first heard this song, I knew it was you singing it a totally unique voice, singing such an empowering song. Thank you.
Rhi Rhi – The line up of empowering females would be incomplete without you! You make being a woman of colour a beautiful thing, and do so much for women in general regardless of race, and fight for what’s right. Your music, make-up line and personality are great. Very inspirational!
Happy International Women’s Day March 2020!