Equity is about fairness and justice for all

We continue our week long series to mark International Women's Day. 100 Cork women had their say on 'Embrace Equity' in this week's WoW! Here are some of their submissions
Equity is about fairness and justice for all

Lorna Horgan, Account Manager for Cork's 96FM and C103

Lorna Horgan, Account Manager, Cork’s 96FM and C103 and Podcast Producer for Network Ireland Cork

I am involved in networking groups that help women and people with disabilities thrive in everyday life. Women in business are under-represented in senior management positions.

As a neurodivergent person with ADHD, I struggle with tasks that most find ‘simple’. I came from a socio-economically disadvantaged background, so access to higher education was a challenge for me. 

The Higher Education Access Route led me to first learn about equity. 

A giraffe, monkey and goldfish cannot be expected to climb a tree as an equal aptitude test. We all need different accommodations to achieve the same goals.

We need to evolve beyond equality and strive for equity in each of our professional, personal, civic and academic lives.

Singer and songwriter Fiona Kennedy. Photo Joleen Cronin
Singer and songwriter Fiona Kennedy. Photo Joleen Cronin

Fiona Kennedy, Singer/songwriter

My career in the music industry spans 35 years. In that time, I’ve seen some changes for the good of females working in the business but many negative things have stayed the same.

A recent study that was undertaken by Linda Coogan Byrne showed that airplay on Ireland’s national and local radio stations has for many years been hugely weighted in favour of male artists. Airplay is the lifeblood of performing musicians and this situation has put female artists at a huge disadvantage for a long time.

Equity, for me, would mean a greater awareness of the gender disparity that exists in the business that I’m a part of, a willingness to give female artists a more equal chance of success, both artistically & financially.

I’m about to release a new album entitled Find Me this month and I’d like to think that in the Ireland of 2023, it has an equal chance of success as a release by a male artist.

Lynda McAuliffe.
Lynda McAuliffe.

Lynda McAuliffe, Head of Business Development at CWM Wealth Management Ltd

Working in financial services over the past 16 years has certainly opened my eyes on gender bias and equity. It’s a field that typically has been male dominated. Women are employed in this business usually as administrative support. You look at a company website and all the senior managers and advisors are men. You attend an industry event and the expert panel are all men. It is so frustrating and disappointing that, in this day and age, this behaviour and practice is ongoing.

As a female actively pursing a career in financial services, I do often feel at an immediate disadvantage to succeed because this environment is my starting point.

Embracing Equity is so important for employers to be aware of and to be incorporated into their corporate culture. Female representation should be a norm, not an exception.

For those starting their career journey, I believe it’s vital that they can identify how they can progress and thrive by seeing more women actively in senior roles in their industry.

I am lucky and thankful that, with my current employer, I am in an environment where I am supported and recognised.

Muriel Foley.
Muriel Foley.

Muriel Foley, founder and educator at MGFD, a Digital Marketing consultancy

The path to success is not one single track, the journey will be different for everyone.

I believe that people should have access to the resources and tools they require to succeed. These tools will differ depending on the needs of the individual. Equity doesn’t mean copy and paste for all, it means fairness at an individual level.

Una Buckley Blossom4life. Picture: Darragh Kane
Una Buckley Blossom4life. Picture: Darragh Kane

Una Buckley, Blossom4Life

Since running a diversity and inclusion organisation here in Cork called Blossom4life which supports students with learning differences, I am very much an advocate for inclusion. I believe that each person is entitled to be who they want to be and society needs to make adjustments to allow for that.

Sandra Murphy, Group Brand Manager and Communications Manager for Trigon Hotels

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day being ‘embrace equity’ is hugely significant as it is something that we all need to think about and also embrace.

To me, equity really means creating an inclusive world. All of us have a responsibility to play our part in actively supporting equity in our own lives, both on a professional and personal level. Each of us need to draw attention to bias, ensure inclusion is prioritised, call out discrimination and always challenge gender stereotypes.

Equity is very much about fairness and justice and it is imperative that we strive to ensure people have a sense of belonging and feel included – right across our organisations, our groups, our friendships and our home environment. 

When people feel that they belong, it really helps drive success for all.

I really believe that together we can work collectively to forge an equal world and to make positive changes for all.

Aisling Noonan.
Aisling Noonan.

Aisling Noonan, Demand Generation Manager at Udemy

Access - it’s important that from the beginning, no matter who we are, our status or what gender or ethnicity we represent, we need access to the tools and resources to be successful without any barriers.

Advancement - we need to continuously move the dial forward when it comes to equity. By speaking out, acting on it and supporting others, we can really drive the conversation forward and forge equity for all.

Acknowledgement - we need to praise and raise those that are driving this shift forward and acknowledge and make adjustments to the remaining imbalances in society.

I’m Demand Generation Manager at Udemy, an organisation with a mission to improve lives through learning.

Eimear O'Herlihy, Festival Director for the West Cork Literary Festival Picture Darragh Kane
Eimear O'Herlihy, Festival Director for the West Cork Literary Festival Picture Darragh Kane

Eimear O’Herlihy, Festival Director, West Cork Literary Festival

For many years, we’ve been striving to address equality and diversity in West Cork Literary Festival, in our programming and in our dealings with writers, audiences, and stakeholders. As part of this, we undertook organisation-wide staff training in EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) and one of the biggest learnings was the need for equity in everything that we do. We have always prided ourselves on our author and audience care. Now we need to go further and look at the authors and audiences we are not reaching and consider possible barriers to their inclusion.

If there is a positive outcome to the pandemic, it is that it made us all more responsive and adaptable in how we work - everything moved online for two years and this made the festival more accessible to authors and audiences who couldn’t previously attend for a variety of reasons. Online events opened up the festival to those who couldn’t attend for financial reasons, or because they had childcare and other care commitments preventing time away from home, or because they were physically unable to attend or to participate in the festival.

Online events enabled authors and audiences to attend from their homes, and whilst it is wonderful to be back in person for the majority of events, we have maintained a number of fully online events as well as releasing video and audio recordings of several in-person events.

All of our videos have closed caption subtitles to ensure they are accessible to deaf and hard of hearing audiences, as well as assisting those for whom English is not their first language. In 2022, for the first time, we installed a hearing induction loop in our primary venue, the Maritime Hotel. We also strive to add ALT text (a written description) to all photos that we use on our website and social media to ensure that visually impaired followers have the best possible experience.

We have free events in Bantry Library and Bantry Bookshop every year and about a third of our festival events are free of charge.

We are working with writers to address any access needs they may have so we have an equitable experience for everyone. 

We don’t always get it right, we have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but we are determined to keep equity and inclusion in the forefront of our minds at all times and to do better year on year.

West Cork Literary Festival runs July 7 to 14. See www.westcorkmusic.ie/LFprogramme

Cáit Linehan, Administrator at Pat Talbot Productions

To me, equity is about breaking down barriers, enabling people to find an inclusive space for everyone. I believe equity can be achieved by creating an awareness and understanding that all people do not have the same opportunities and abilities to succeed fairly in society. 

It’s important we continue to learn how to treat people respectfully and include impartiality in our daily lives.

Sinéad Moore, Conference & Events Sales Manager at Cork International Hotel

Equality means respecting and recognising that everyone has individual needs. We are all human and we all deserve to enjoy the same freedoms, opportunities, rights and protections. It is the knowing your son or daughter can realise any dream. On this International Women’s Day we recognise that gender parity is essential for a society to thrive.

Una Jennings, Operations Manager & Consultant with Provest Private Clients, a financial services company, in Douglas.

I entered the financial services industry after college over 25 years ago, which was mainly a male dominated industry at the time. My parents always instilled in me the benefits of education and hard work, and as the years progressed, I did various exams and qualified as a QFA (Qualified Financial Adviser) and SIA (Specialist Investment Advisor).

I would see equity as having an employer who will allow you the time to build your career and encourage you to sit any exams to allow you reach your potential. 

I am married and we have two children, a 17 year old girl and a 12 year old boy, and I also see equity as having an employer that will allow you to find a work/life balance and not jeopardise your career prospects.

Over the years, it has been great to see some other women enter the industry and progress in their careers to be equal to the male counterpart within the industry. I’m also very thankful to our Managing Director, Mark O’Sullivan, who I have worked with for the last 12 years, who allowed me every opportunity to progress my career to the position I hold now.

Dyane Hanrahan, Crawford Art Gallery

I have been Marketing and Communications Manager at Crawford Art Gallery for the last six years and have the privilege to work in a place where issues of equity and equal access to opportunities are something we consistently strive to address, through our education programmes and within the national collection of Artworks.

For me, it goes without saying that an equal society is the only way forward but as ‘some are more equal than others’, resources need to be allocated on that basis, acknowledging that some need an extra leg up!

Society is changing rapidly, sometimes it’s hard to keep up. I would like to think in Ireland everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality or circumstance, will be free to express themselves without fear and with the expectation of respect.

Anne O’Doherty, Head of Life & Pensions in Quintas Wealth Management in Cork.
Anne O’Doherty, Head of Life & Pensions in Quintas Wealth Management in Cork.

Anne O’Doherty, Head of Life & Pensions in Quintas Wealth Management in Cork

This International Women’s Day, I’m looking at the financial services industry I work in, which is striving towards equity but is not there yet. To me, this means providing equal opportunities and fair treatment for each person in an organisation.

Financial services continues to be a male-dominated industry and while that is changing, it is slow. I will continue to be an advocate for financial services as a career for women where they can develop a rewarding career, thrive in their environment and have their achievements celebrated as they should be.

Jude O Callaghan, in communications at Johnson Controls Global Creative

I see that through fair equity, we reach equality. Being solutions-focused, allowing capacity to listen and learn. And showing up!

I try to make the most out of every interaction, to connect, learn and grow.

Edel Kavanagh, Deputy General Manager, Cork International Hotel

For me, equity is about being trusted just as much as my male counterparts to make the right decisions.

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