International Women’s Day (March 8) provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress that trading standards has made – as well as the challenges to be overcome – in how women in the profession are supported and represented.
The event promotes the worldwide recognition of women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements, and CTSI says it acknowledges the widely celebrated day as a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
Last year, CTSI’s first Diversity Survey revealed that more than half (55.95%) of trading standards professionals are women. It also revealed that 24.83% of respondents who reported experiences of bullying, harassment, discrimination or verbal abuse said it involved sex discrimination.
CTSI Council Chair, Louise Baxter, said: “Women in the workplace face several invisible barriers such as menopause, caring responsibilities, having children – or, sometimes, not having children – preconceived perceptions and gender bias.
“As a profession we are starting to challenge all of these conscious and unconscious biases. The wave of movement is coming, but it’s important we continue to shine a torch on this, challenge things when appropriate and feel safe to do so. Feminism is no longer a dirty word.”
Wendy Potts, Chair of the Business Members Group and a member of CTSI’s Race & Equalities Working Group, said: “In the recent CTSI poll, more than half of the trading standards professionals who responded identified as female, which shows that trading standards has certainly come a long way since I started in my first role in 1989.
“I am extremely proud to be the first in a line of three women to be elected as Chair/Vice Chair of CTSI Council.”
Gina Green, Trading Standards Manager at Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards said: “I have been working in trading standards for 22 years. Over this time the world has changed and in my experience I have found women are now treated with greater respect and professionalism.
“There remain isolated pockets of poor behaviours and attitudes that the profession is working to tackle, but overall I have found trading standards to be an inclusive, collaborative, supportive and kind profession to work in.”
Now in its 111th year, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Break the Bias’. Supporters of the event are calling for a world free of bias and discrimination, where diversity, equitability and inclusivity are valued.
CTSI said that it “appreciates that the profession has been on a progressive journey and values the contribution women have made to it. We have created a poster demonstrating ways in which we can show support on the occasion, and have also listed some book recommendations from acclaimed female authors.
“CTSI staff have also been encouraged to wear purple to the office, signifying justice and dignity for women, contributing to making a positive difference for women in the days to come.”