Susie Gordon, Executive Director of the Leeds Jewish community

Hi, my name is Susie Gordon and I am the Executive Director of the Leeds Jewish community and a freelance leadership coach. I am proud to be taking part in the JLC campaign to support International Women’s Day.

I would firstly like to thank the thousands of women 100 years ago who really did #PressforProgress in the bravest way possible. I didn’t realise until I watched the film Suffragette’s just what they had to sacrifice to achieve the vote, an act that still inspires us to #PressforProgress.

I wish I was so brave but thankfully I don’t need to be.

For me, to be able #PushforPregress means creating awareness of what’s really going on. Sometimes inequality can be so subtle that you don’t even notice it is happening. Getting your voice heard in a board meeting, pushing for a pay rise after years of employment, being asked to speak at events, or just being seen as a leader. If I was a man would my role be different within our male dominated community? Probably. Do I have a responsibility to challenge this? Yes. Unless you live in two parallel worlds as a man and as a women it’s hard to be sure. However, some manifestations of inequality are less subtle, such as the need for the #MeToo campaign, and that’s when we need to be shouting from the roof tops, educating men and supporting one another. That should be the responsibility of everyone.

I hope this campaign empowers every women to push the boundaries and obstacles that are in our way from the moment we are born. We need to feel free to make the choices that we want to make without feeling that it’s an act of rebellion or that we are being judged by others. Not just from society but our Jewish traditions and values too. If you choose to be a stay parent (as a man or woman) let’s celebrate and not judge, if you want a full time career and family (as a man or woman) let’s encourage and support this too. I think how some people respond to that choice is what stops us from progressing.

We need to keep talking, educating and being the best women we can be for ourselves and other women too. We are not the same as men, we have many different qualities, but they are neither better nor worse, just different. We should be celebrating these differences and they do complement each other. Together we can make the optimum boardroom.

Saying this not all women are the same, and neither are men. We are all different and we all need to be respectful of each other.

It’s ok to do what you want to do, and what’s great is we do have a choice. I think that if everyone were to open up their minds and see this, we would live in a far more progressive world.

Let’s all #PressforProgress