NWBLT Members and Partners Share Their Thoughts on Women’s Suffrage

It has been a delight to celebrate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act using some very insightful words from NWBLT members and our partners. Below we have included all of these great responses in full. It has also been a pleasure to include the fantastic artwork from the graphic novel of Sally Heathcote, Suffragette by Mary M Talbot, Bryan Talbot and Kate Charlesworth, published by Jonathan Cape. We thank them for giving us permission to display their work alongside our quotes.

 “With all the tremendous progress we have made on equality in 100 years, recent high profile events have shown us how much work there is still to do. We must  make this anniversary the year where inclusion and equality is not an option but fundamental and celebrated. Anything else is just wrong and also a massive missed opportunity for business in driving high performance organisational cultures, that foster innovation, customer focus, creativity, respect and responsibility at all levels.” – Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK and Chair NWBLT

“It’s important that we remember, especially here in Manchester birthplace of the suffrage movement, the progress that has been made to ensure equality between people of all genders. However, it’s also a reminder of the struggles faced everyday around the world for men and women to release their full potential in the workplace, home and community. “ – Joëlle Warren, Founder and Executive Chair Warren Partners

Gender equality hinges on choice; men and women should have equal choice to focus on whichever aspect of their life they may choose. Progress over the last 100 years is undoubtedly impressive and well deserved as the result of over a century of hard work and perseverance on the part of advocates for women’s rights. “ – Jackie Arnold, Head of Strategy, BAE Systems Submarine Solutions

‘It is easy to take for granted the enormous sacrifice made by women here in the North West, but all women – especially those of us lucky enough to be in positions of influence – stand upon their shoulders. We all, regardless of our gender, have a responsibility to continue to build upon what they achieved, and ensure the next generation of men and women live and work in a society that fosters all talent and is fair and just for all.’ – Emma Degg, Chief Executive, NWBLT

“I am so proud that we remember the huge strides in gender equality 100 years ago – that were founded here in Manchester.  We have made great progress on equality but still some more to do.” – Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice Chancellor The University of Manchester

“The passing of the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was a major step to building the modern society and economy we live in today.  It takes bravery to stand up against the norm and fight for what you believe is right.  We owe a debt of gratitude to those who changed our society one hundred years ago but we should not be complacent.  As well as a democracy that is open to all we need to improve the quality of debate and the maturity with which we undertake it, if our society is to continue to thrive.” – Iwan Griffiths, North West Region Chairman, PWC

“The Representation of the People’s Act, one hundred years ago, was a milestone in the evolution of UK society. This act provided recognition, through suffrage of a position for women within British society which was independent from the male head of household. An important step in an evolution that continues today. We have to ensure that girls and young women are encouraged to develop to their undoubted potential as equals, in all areas of society from politics, science, engineering and business. We must build on this 100 hundred year milestone, by demanding from today a culture within Britain, where all women can be recognised and respected for what they deliver and achieve. A society where it is unacceptable to exploit and harass anyone, regardless.” – Susan Smith, Head of Daresbury Laboratory, STFC

“As a woman in today’s society it would be easy to take many things for granted; education, career, access to health and family planning, and the right to Vote.

But life has not always been so fortunate, however over 100 years ago the Women’s Suffrage movement fought to deliver changes to a male dominated establishment and achieving the landmark in 1918 of giving women over 30 the right to vote as well as the right to stand as an MP, however it was a further decade before all women where given the right to vote. These significant milestones mark a turning point in women’s rights in the UK.

In the Century that as followed the law has addressed significant challenges such as equal pay for equal work, a woman’s right to inherit property, access to contraception allowing women to control when or if they have a family and the Sex Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate against women in work, education and training to name but a few.

The importance of these changes has also created a ripple in a pond that has seen the law recognise the rights of other groups to ensure people are recognised equally regardless of gender, disability, sexuality, race or religion as a Mother, I reminded my two Daughter’s that they should not take for granted their right to vote and remind them that taking part in the democratic process of an election allows them to influence future law and policy.” – Sharon Keith, Regional Director, Northern Rail

“It is indeed right to remember, mark and celebrate milestones such as this and the amazing people and struggles that brought them about. Diversity in general is a huge challenge andopportunity for our society and our economy and we must never forget this.” – Sandy Lindsay MBE, Founder and Chair, Tangerine and The Juice Academy

“The centenary of women’s suffrage is an extremely important moment to mark in our country’s history. We have come such a long way but we still have a long way to go. Responsible businesses have a significant role to play in emboldening women in both the workforce and in society as a whole. Moreover, it is important to remember the historical ties that our region has to the women’s suffrage movement and the brave work done by individuals such as Emmeline Pankhurst. As business leaders, we mark this occasion as a means to reflect on the achievements of those in the past and to highlight the work still being done today to achieve gender equality today and to become more diverse and inclusive in general.” – Richard Carter, Managing Director, BASF

“Celebrating 100 years of suffrage not only gives us pause for reflection on how much progress has been made in the drive for gender equality over the course of the century. It’s a reminder that the struggles and oppression that women had to endure for decades before earning the right to vote should continue to inspire all women today. Together we have a moral responsibility to honor the legacy, work and sacrifice of all those powerful women who helped change our futures for the better.” – Nicola Quayle, Senior Partner, KPMG

“One hundred years on it is right that we reflect back on the struggle that lead to the 1918 act for women’s suffrage.  Being so long ago it can perhaps be easy to think that the inequalities they sought to address are long gone; however we all know too clearly that much work remains to be done.

 As business leaders we absolutely need to call upon the talents, skills and capabilities of all of our people and build environments where everyone is equally able to play their part.  Embracing and encouraging diversity in all its forms leads to better performing teams developing better solutions for our clients. I believe that business can drive change in society and it is incumbent on us as leaders to work together to continue to advance gender equality and ensure that the next 100 years deliver true equality for all. ” – Chris Gray, Managing Director – EALA Health & Public Services Analytics, Accenture

“The bravery and dedication of those that campaigned tirelessly to secure the right to vote for women 100 years ago was a hugely significant landmark and it is vital that we celebrate the major strides Women’s Suffrage made in bringing gender equality to the forefront. Their efforts gave women the confidence and determination to strive for equal rights at all levels, and, while there is still a way to go, the growing number of women leaders in business who were no doubt inspired by the Suffrage movement are testament to the significant progress that is being made to deliver genuine equality.”  – Christine Gaskell, Chair Cheshire & Warrington LEP