8 March 2019

International Women’s Day – the women who inspire us

Today is a chance to celebrate women everywhere and it's got us at Synergy thinking about the brilliant female influences in our lives.

We’ve all had a good think and here’s what the team had to say.

Lucy McKerron, Client Development Manager

“I’ve always hugely admired Rosa Parks, the First Lady of civil rights. A reminder to us all to #DoTheRightThing and that standing up for our beliefs doesn’t always come easy…”


Will Skane-Davis, Creative

“There are some really inspiring women working in graphic design. Paula Scher is amazing. Margaret Calvert as well, she helped to design the transport font used on road signs which is awesome and something you see everyday.”


Rhiannon Stroud, Strategy Lead

“I’m currently reading Michelle Obama‘s autobiography. What. A. Woman. I also love the 2 women who run The High Low podcast – Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. So articulate. So driven. So human. And so open to new ideas/beliefs/ways of thinking.”


Keri O’Donoghue, Marketing Executive

“It might sound a little cliché but my mother is my biggest inspiration. A nurse turned police officer who has gone back to the NHS in retirement, she has her own mini statue in the National Trust HQ, as part of the #putherforward campaign by nonzeroone, to mark her tireless work for victims of abuse. In her career she found new ways in which police officers can be supported through traumatic cases. She’s the fiercest woman I know and if I can be half the woman she is in my life, I’ll know I’ve done her proud.”


Grace Kilpin, Creative

“I’m following an inspirational speaker called Debra Searles. She spent 3 and a half months alone at sea rowing the Atlantic. She has launched four companies, won Gold World Championship medals for GB, presented over 40 programmes for the BBC, had two books published and she has spoken at over 1,000 events across 38 countries. She’s also mother to two young children. I find her mental and physical energy incredible, and she claims a large part of her success is down to attitude, which is really easy relate to, and suggests that we can all be as successful as we want to. Her weekly blogs are a good start to the week, a little boost to my mental approach.”


Sophie Green, Account Executive

“I love the Guilty Feminist podcast, started by the brilliant comedian Deborah Frances White. She’s passionate about feminism, speaks to a really diverse group of guests and covers huge, important themes in a really witty and intelligent way. The ‘I’m a feminist but…’ confessions takes a human view of feminism and is funny – which is always a bonus.”


Jenni Cruickshank, Senior Account Manager

“I’m a huge fan of Jameela Jamil – she’s spearheading a movement to end airbrushing in mass media, and has made a splash (pun intended) with her hilarious commentary on the influx of ‘diet teas’ and lack of care or concern influencers have for their young and vulnerable audience.”


Ezra Chambers, Operations Manager

“My Gran – Herta Lloyd nee. Caspar-Kreikebaum, left all her family in Vienna in 1933 to escape the Nazis and make it to London. She was a Communist and realised her life was in mortal danger. Strangely only found out most of her history after her death. Made it here, met my Grandfather at a Young Socialists meeting, married him and gave birth to four equally strong and independent women (one of which being my mum). And she was tiny and NEVER lost her accent.”


The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceForBetter, so our Creative Director, Olly, gave us his 2 cents on the subject:


In keeping with International Women’s Day’s theme of #BalanceForBetter I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts. Not because as a man, I couldn’t resist a chance to ‘mansplain’ – really, let’s not go there – but because I’m also a parent, a manager, and someone that recognises that there are multiple challenges in work and life that aren’t definable simply as male or female.

What do we want?

Fundamentally, to just get on with living the lives we imagine. You know, the one’s where we work, have a family, don’t have to make a black and white choice between the two.

Rearing a family is the defining wedge in the gender pay gap. It penalises men as much as women (hey, I didn’t say I wouldn’t be controversial). I don’t dispute for a second that it’s easier to be a parent and a man. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pain me to leave every morning and get on with my career, or drop off a tired and confused toddler at nursery, before finally picking her up at the end of my day, 10 or so hours later.

That said, I’m hopeful for the future. I’ve noticed how much the workplace has changed in 15 or so years I’ve been in it. Why is that? One word – millennials. Working for purpose more than just a pay cheque is changing the working landscape. And as more millennials start families I fully expect to see the norms of who takes time out of their careers to look after them shift dramatically towards a more balanced picture.

When do we want it?

Well, now? There’s no time like the present and we can all do something to change attitudes.

As a senior member of this agency, I’ve battled the guilt of rushing out at the end of the day to do the pickup routine. But, I’d like to see it as setting an example that I have many responsibilities in life and that I’m not willing to leave all parenting to my wife.

It also doesn’t take a long time to review your beliefs and maybe change a few things about what normal is. Maybe get a bit closer to that life we were imagining.

What are we doing about it?

Workplaces are currently ill set up to handle balance of parental commitment between both parents. Paternity leave is not financially viable long term – compared with, say, Sweden where so-called ‘Latte Papas’ can share a total of 480 days’ leave subsidised at 80% of their normal income to spend time with their newborns.

The rise of ‘mumpreneurs’ shows how the enforced career break of becoming a parent is a catalyst to make some big life decisions like not going back to larger organisations and instead kicking off that side project while you have.

In Bristol we have the fantastic ‘Freelance Mum’ https://www.freelancemum.co.uk network, that – well, the name says it all really – allows mums come together and talk about something other than babies, and meet other like-minded mothers to share their stories and do business.

Bringing things back to the creative industry, it’s noticeable, the drop-off of female applicants for permanent senior positions. However, we have a very healthy population of freelance mums, taking control of things and showing that it is more than possible to have a successful career and a family. Not only possible, preferable.

To balance this it needs to be made possible – or even preferable – for men to be more present in the early days, weeks, months, of their children’s lives.

The creative industry is pretty good at being introspective on such matters, as setups such as WEDF’s Kerning the Gap http://www.kerningthegap.com/ and the international Ladies Wine Design https://ladieswinedesign.com/ demonstrate.

As someone trying to build as diverse a studio as possible I’m interested in being involved in anything that can add to the discussion of diversity and inclusion in any respect. It’s a big, multi-facetted subject that, as my stream-of-consciousness here demonstrates, is a challenge to tackle concisely. I do think it’s something that needs to be discussed regularly not just on special days in order to make progress.


What a collection of amazing women, insights and opinions! We’ve also been talking about this over on Twitter and Instagram, so get involved and let us know who your favourite ladies are.

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