“My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Empowering women is a value we hold high at Don’t Panic. With 72% of our full-time workforce being female we wanted to take the opportunity for International Women’s Day to learn which women influence and inspire our team. 

I asked our team members to reflect on women who have made a lasting impact on them whether that be a family member, colleague or person in history. This exercise has been profound given it has allowed us to gain an insight into the values each of our team members hold dear but also helped us understand their history and why they are who they are today.

Here is what our amazing team had to say about the influential women in their lives….

“My mother is my biggest inspiration, she firstly moved cities all on her own to provide a better life for my brother and I while simultaneously working, raising us and studying towards her degrees in BCom Business Management and Executive Development, which is not an easy feat with two young kids who need your attention all the time. She also put us through prestigious universities where we both achieved our honours, in the fields of our choosing without adding pressure on us, and she’s still going today, being an amazing mom!”

Leenesha Friend, Marketing Manager

“The woman I admire is my daughter. She is 16, suffers from anxiety, panic attacks and catastrophising, yet she still challenges herself and the people around her. Despite her thought process, she puts herself out to try new things, join new clubs and meet new people – none of which are easy, at the best of times. She commits to engage with political and controversial topics to broaden her understanding of the world around her, and speaks out when she sees wrongdoing. With all the world has shown her she remains committed to improving the environment for the future, educating friends and family in relation to LGBTQ+, the empowerment of women, and equal and fair rights for all. Her strength astounds me.”

Sue Johns-Chapman, Content Manager

“There are many women that inspire me, but at this current moment in time, my biggest inspiration is Don’t Panics working Mums! Seeing first-hand how these amazing women can juggle the trials and tribulations of raising children and managing a career, and excelling in both, even when they probably don’t feel like it, is a huge inspiration. They’re women I feel incredibly proud to be working with – and I will definitely be learning from them!”

Sarah Power, Operations Manager

Strong and independent women rule the world. It’s true. Whilst I’m sitting at a desk, messing around with graphics on the computer, my wife is raising, educating and basically moulding our two children into lovely human beings. She’s doing an amazing job. My little girl, Aoife Grace, is already a formidable and independent spirit. When her older brother starts a fight, it’s Aoife who finishes it. When I have the audacity to suggest bath time is over, it’s Aoife who informs me it’s not, and that I still need to wash behind her ears. Don’t let her grin fool you, she is feisty and she is fierce. And those are beautiful things to be.

James Harding, Graphics Guru

My Grandma is my inspiration 90 years young and still going strong after recently over coming Coronavirus. She is the best listener and gives great advice, she calls a spade a spade and we love her for that. At 90 years old she still dresses impeccably and has been the best baker and cook! She’s lived through so much being evacuated to Wales during WW2 and being a business owner in her 30s, running multiple children’s clothing shops. She a STRONG lady and is known affectionally in our family as ‘The Boss’. Here she is with my two wonderful children being, a fabulous Great Grandma!

Steph Gianfriglia, Account Executive

For me, the first women who had a profound influence on me are my late grandmother and my mum who are both empathetic and fierce in equal measure. They both bucked every trend for their time and I am pretty sure had they been alive during the suffragette movement they would have been at the front of the line. Both have taught me to have a voice and to always remember that no one is better or lesser than yourself so treat everyone as equals and not fear difficult scenarios.

Aside from my grandmother and mum, there are two little ladies who empower and influence me every day and they are my daughters. As children, they both have a beautiful innocence and an unwavering sense of patience and forgiveness for others which inspires me. 

When we were talking, in the office, about what IWD means to us the conversation led us to believing in, and taking inspiration from, ourselves. With that in mind Sarah Belcher our event manager shared a little inspiration of her own.

“I am ‘Little Saz’ from Salford. Not a qualification to my name, but running events around the world, including my fav venue, Sydney Opera House. I’m a full-time working Mum and I am fab at both, my son is gorgeous and I made him! (well 50% of him) At work I fill the day with laughter, I am gameshow host and comedian. Day to day, I strive to be the best woman I can, and do you know what – I’m a belter!”

I am lucky to be surrounded by inspirational women every day at Don’t Panic. So, my hope on International Women’s Day, for my daughters, colleagues and all women is that they do not still have to have the conversations we do today around equal opportunities and women’s rights, and that they will hopefully benefit from the years of hard work women have put into paving the way for a better future for women.

“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

Helen Barkley, MD

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