Siobhan Spruce, International Women's Day

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For International Women's Day, we want to raise awareness around gender-based workplace bias and start the conversation on how we can create a work environment free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination where everyone can thrive. To do this, we interviewed female leaders about their experiences and how to break the bias.

Interview with Siobhan Spruce, HR Business Partner EMEAA, Fortune Brands

What do you think business leaders can do to help break gender bias in the workplace?

I think it is incredibly important for business leaders to break gender bias in the workplace. 

We must all educate each other (not just from the top down) about the impact certain words and actions can have. This education isn’t one off….. it is about regular conversations and leading with empathy. For our team it is about creating a culture that values equity and empathy.

Have you personally faced any gender bias in your career? How did you handle/deal with it? 

Unfortunately, I have faced gender bias in my career, not recently but in my 20’s and 30’s. I always felt I had to shine brighter, work harder and longer hours than my male colleagues to get the recognition.  I remember being given feedback from an interview for a promotion at work (by a well meaning Director who “wanted to be honest with me”) and the feedback was that they needed a consistent leader who was not a risk of going off on maternity leave and this was the reason why I couldn’t have the position I wanted. Sadly this is one of the many examples I have of gender bias in the workplace. On a positive note I now use these as examples to support other leaders in their growth and development.

Are there any good initiatives at your business that support gender equality you would like to share?

We have recently launched a podcast at GPG and we discuss a different topic each month. This month is dedicated to Leading with empathy and covers bias.  We hope to grow and develop this in 2022 and are at the start of developing a ICC (Inclusive, Culture Council).

What do you feel are the next steps in breaking gender bias?  How can women support breaking the bias?

I think that women have a huge and positive part to play in breaking gender bias, not only by calling it out but by openly and transparently talking about it. Educating others around us that they have a voice! When I think of culture and bias I always think of Mahatma Ghandi famous quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I believe culture is contagious and when you act and behave in the right way consistently it flows through to others and helps to break down gender bias at the workplace, it empower everyone who around us to do the right thing (one of our values here at GPG).

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