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IWD: #BreakTheBias with Karen Graves, non-executive director

March 08, 2022

This International Women's Day, I interviewed Karen Graves, a non-executive director and inclusion advocate in the insurance market and she shared her thoughts on how we can #BreakTheBias. 

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.  

 

Which bias would you like to break about women at work in 2022?  

A move to accept that talent changes, and as we get older, just at the point where we can really start to add value with years of experience, women don’t turn into some crazed menopausal swirl of rage, tears and forgetfulness. Let’s start as individuals and companies to accept in a matter-of-fact way that it’s part of our life and career journey, and at the point where we can take on key roles we aren’t marginalised by outdated, biased assumptions. 

 

What is one action companies can take to further balance their talent attraction strategies?  

Take risks in appointments. Lead by example and appoint interesting and talented women, really look at what they can bring to a company and appoint difference….it will be worth it, and NO HARM WILL BE DONE! Heck, the appointment may be a catalyst to drive further change. Hire different talent not a mirror image of the status quo. And I know you said one action...but also look outside our industry go and seek talent from other industries and bring some more vibrancy to our market and a different take on the business. 

 

What is your top advice for making job descriptions more inclusive?  

Focus on the skills required for the role and the talents needed. Be less prescriptive about wanting hard and fast educational qualifications, phrase things in a way that allows individuals to see they could do a role and then listen to them as they convince you why you should hire them. Time. Allow time for the hire, it’s sometimes a luxury but with a skills-based job description and time to consider a range of candidates, you will find real gems.  

 

What advice would you give aspiring women in the industry you work in?  

Spend some time thinking about your career path, not in a hard and fast way but consider where you want to spend your energy to allow for some focus, it won’t be time wasted. Find a way of talking about yourself and what you do in a way that reflects your style and allows for a positive representation of your talent. Network, network, network! When you get given a business card, meet someone and they say contact me, do it. You will make friends in a great industry and also build up contacts and a support network as you progress throughout your career. 

 

International Women’s Day is also about celebrating women and their achievements, who inspires you?  

I think women are amazing, and those that find their voice in an environment that plays against them do it for me. I don’t expect my heroes to be perfect and I have a number I could name but I’m going for Emmeline Pankhurst. She wanted equality for women and led the start of women being able to vote, something I have made sure I have done at every opportunity. She is a fantastic example of taking direct action and of not underestimating women!