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Celebrating International Women's Day 2023

On International Women’s Day we come together to celebrate the achievements of women in our sport, but recognise that there’s more we can do to provide an inclusive environment for all, ensuring we #EmbraceEquity in everything that we do.

We sat down with our new Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI), Hiran Odedra who explains why the day and the theme are so crucial to our Team’s future.

Why is recognising International Women's Day so important?

Having worked in STEM for a number of years, International Women’s Day is one of my favourite days of the year. It gives us the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our amazing Team and the progress we have made in attracting and recruiting more women in to motorsport roles. Seeing women working within our Team and our sport is inspiring for younger generations to show them what is possible in the future and what can be achieved. It’s also important to acknowledge that there is more to be done to achieve gender equality in society, so we need to continue to raise awareness of these important issues.

This year's theme is Embrace Equity. How do the differences between Equity and Equality relate to our Team?

The IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme seeks to get the world talking about why "equal opportunities are no longer enough". The terms equity and equality are often used interchangeably, but their meaning is very different and our Team, along with many other organisations, are realising they need to move towards equity rather than focus on equality.

Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. It aims to promote fairness based on the premise that everyone is at a particular starting point and should be treated the same.

Equity acknowledges that everyone isn’t at that same starting point. Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful, it's not giving everyone the exact same thing. If we give everyone the exact same thing, expecting that will make people equal, it assumes that everyone started out in the same place - and this can be vastly inaccurate.

Equity goes beyond that and really acknowledges difference and how to harness that difference to get the best out of people and help them fulfil their potential.

How can our Team make sure we continue to implement this in our day-to-day routines?

Creating a more gender inclusive culture means identifying and removing any barriers which may disadvantage women. This can be ensuring that we have an environment where women feel they have a voice and are treated with respect and dignity, or removing bias from recruitment processes to ensure they are more inclusive, ensuring that maternity benefits and policies are in place and that returning mothers have support in place to balance work and caring responsibilities (although it must be recognised that his applies to men and women).

What pleases you most about our Team's efforts to create a more representative workforce?

One of the reasons I joined the Team was the amazing work that has been done since 2020 to progress EDI across the Team – the robust and inspirational partnerships we have in place to develop our future pipeline for diverse talent. From the work experience schemes and apprenticeship schemes, to our Accelerate 25 programme with STEM education and our work with Girls on Track. Accelerate 25 has already had a real impact in increasing the number of women across the Team, which is particularly encouraging in the more technical areas as it is developing our pipeline for the future. Our internal Women’s Network has also allowed those from across the company to come together and share experiences through their networking events and role model series of talks. But this all just the beginning. I am so excited for the future and our plans beyond 2025!

In what areas can our Team continue to make progress in creating a representative workforce?

I think it is important to recognise that there is no ‘quick fix’ and that although there are some actions that will have an immediate impact it will take some time for us to see meaningful change and progress at all levels of the Team as we are in the early stages of our journey compared to other sectors and industries. If we continue to focus on attracting and recruiting diverse talent and then actions to retain it by creating an inclusive culture which will help to retain, develop and progress that talent then we will see the results of our commitment for years to come. The percentage of women in our Team has risen from 12% to 16% since the implementation of our Accelerate 25 programme in December 2020, and it is really important to keep the momentum going. All this will help us to be not only the most successful but also the most diverse and inclusive Formula One Team!

What advice can you give to Team members about being an ally?

It is important to recognise that anyone can be an ally and you don’t have to belong to a particular under-represented group to be one. In many cases it really helps if you are from the ‘majority group’. Some of the most inspiring allies that I have met for gender equality have been men.

Being an ally is all about understanding and acknowledging the journeys of people who are different to you; the barriers that they may have faced to get to where they are today – and then championing and helping to remove the barriers to create a culture of inclusion. It is about recognising other people’s struggles and helping to support the team in being the best we can.

The best way to become an ally is to talk to people who are different to you, to understand their ‘stories’ or reading up on issues that are affecting society and not being afraid to ask questions to learn more about your Team members.