Today is International Women’s Day and the theme for 2019 is #BalanceforBetter, with the goal of creating a more gender-balanced world.
At Home, we like to think we’re well balanced – the business was founded by Carol back in the 80s. Today, our workplace gender-split actually tips the scales at 63% women and 37% men, and we’re proud to say that we have a 50/50 gender split with our two Creative Directors – Ben and Sarah.
The saying goes ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ so we thought we’d ask our Homies, male and female, who their heroines are (we like to call them Sheroes). By highlighting some of the amazing women who inspire us, we’re creating a more gender-balanced world when it comes to having role models to look up to.
So, grab a cup of tea and take 10, as we’re about to enlighten you on 10 truly incredible women…
1. Michelle Obama – First Lady of the United States from 2009-2017
Oliver: “In one of the first lines from her final First Lady speech, she says “know this country belongs to you”. She celebrates all people and encourages, especially the young, to stand up for important values. She encourages people to learn so that they can express their voice, get a job and help be a positive energy for themselves, family and country. And she asks all to provide hope to young people, so that they feel they belong and that they can be their best selves. She is a modern day icon.”
2. Martine Rothblatt – Co-founder and inventor of Sirius Radio, entrepreneur
Carol: “Her story is an amazing one. I came across her as I’m a huge fan of Sirius radio, which I listen to when I’m out in the US. She was the founder and co-inventor, with the original being an in-car satellite radio, where the roof of your car contained a satellite dish! There are hundreds of ad-free channels, like, a whole Beatles channel or Elvis channel and 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s channels to name but a few. Being a serial entrepreneur she didn’t stop there… take a minute to watch her TED talk, it’s mind-blowing.”
3. Joni Mitchell – Singer
Tony: “She’s a musician, a poet, an artist. She has been the soundtrack of my life ever since Carol introduced me to her work. Her songs are so poignant and perfectly encapsulate great times in my life. They can, sometimes, reduce me to tears. She stood out and up for herself in a music scene dominated by men. As often is the case, to be acknowledged as genius, a woman has to be twice as good as her male peers. In my opinion she blew them out of the water. My favourite song of hers is Blue from the album Blue.”
4. Cressida Dick – Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
Kate: “She was the first female police commissioner and in fact, the first openly gay female commissioner – “For me, I think it’s one of the least important things about me. I happen to love Helen my partner, and on we go”.
It’s safe to say she’s smashed the glass ceiling in the Met Police and as a result, has done a huge amount to increase the numbers of women entering senior roles across the force. She champions diversity in all its glorious forms and recognises the crucial role she can play in making it a level playing field for everyone. “I want everyone, from all backgrounds, to feel the Met is their Met and it’s a safe and good place for people to come to work”. She’s also achieved all that with an incredibly unfortunate surname! If you want to know more about this wonderful, inspiring and articulate women take a listen to her recent Desert Island Discs…”
5. Chrissie Wellington – Triathlete
Justin: “She was the first British athlete to hold the Ironman World Championship title. The year she turned pro, she won it at her very first attempt by a margin of five minutes over her competitors. This was the start of a string of 13 victories at every Ironman distance she entered. She broke the women’s long distance record at Challenge Roth with a time of 8:18:13.
Since retiring, she has turned her focus to using sport as a catalyst for community development. She was instrumental in the development of the Park Run movement, and has been a key figure in establishing the women’s La Course cycling race as part of the Tour de France. She’s also a Bristol City Council Ambassador for Sport. Her trademark is a massive grin which I’ve been lucky enough to encounter on a few runs around Bristol.
Find out more about her by listening to her episode from the Running for Real podcast, titled Unless You Challenge Yourself, How Do You Know What You Are Capable Of?“.
6. Maxine Peake – Actress
Becky: “I respect her choices of artistic roles, and her outspoken nature in both the social and political spheres. She almost always plays strong women and role models positively that way. She left London to free herself financially to be able to focus on more rewarding, lower paid roles in theatre, which deserves huge kudos. She’s a true northern British female icon and a fantastic actress. I love watching her in anything she does and look forward to seeing her career develop even further. Watch her keynote from the BFI’s Working Class Heroes here.”
7. Caroline Lucas – MP
Dave: “She is an exceptional MP who stands for a progressive future and (nearly) always puts forward ideas I agree with, whether they be social, fiscal or environmental. She comes across as genuine – and genuinely frustrated by the state of today’s politics. The title of her book Honourable Friends? Parliament and the Fight For Change points to this.
She campaigns in favour of causes, such as women’s rights; a 50:50 parliament; the LGBT community (including the vegan ones, as seen here); refugees’ rights; CND (as a member of its National Council); RSPCA (vice president); Oxfam (vice president); Stop The War Coalition (former vice president); proportional representation (PR); the alternative vote (AV)… the list goes on.
She’s been arrested and appeared in court on several occasions as a result of her and others’ (peaceful) activism in defence of some of these causes. She’s also an outspoken supporter of membership of the EU (while acknowledging its faults) and a prominent campaigner for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. I can’t say I’ve been inspired by many MPs, but Caroline Lucas is exceptional.”
8. Audrey Hepburn – Actress and humanitarian
Liz: “Everyone knows her for being an iconic actress, so stylish, beautiful, quirky and cool. She was also known for her kindness and compassion, then, following her unofficial retirement from acting, she became a humanitarian, a UNICEF Ambassador. She visited Ethiopia and was so moved by the famine and poverty she encountered, that she tirelessly did up to 15 interviews a day to promote what was happening in the media, raising desperately needed funds.
In 1992 she received the United States’ highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During that year, though ill with cancer, she continued her work for UNICEF, travelling to Somalia, Kenya, the UK, Switzerland, France and the US.
A true inspiration to us all. You can watch one of her interviews here.”
9. Diana Nyad – Long-distance swimmer
Martin: “Diana is a long distance swimmer and has been breaking records and boundaries all of her life.
1974 she set a 22 mile woman’s record of 8 hours 11 minutes.
1975 she swam round the island of Manhattan, 28 miles in just under 8 hours.
1978 she made her first attempt to swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. Commonly known as one of the most dangerous pieces of ocean on earth notorious for man eating sharks, she swam in a steel shark cage for nearly 42 hours before she was removed by the team doctor due to strong winds and 8ft swells which pounded her against the side of the cage. Before she was removed she’d completed a staggering 76 miles, but not in a straight line.
1979 she retired after setting the world record for open water distance swimming for both men and women, of an epic 102 miles!!!
During her retirement the failed Havana to Key West attempt ate away at her, so some 33 years later she attempted the swim another four times, all ending in failure due to high winds, strong currents and numerous Box Jelly Fish stings (which can be fatal). In her early 60’s, in August 2013, she attempted it for a fifth time, without a shark cage (she thought she’d take her chances) and in a protective swim suit to avoid more life threatening stings. She completed the 110 mile swim (which no person had ever done before – few believed it even possible) in 53 hours!!! AMAZING!!! Later, she revealed a factor in her determination was her anger about, and her desire to overcome, sexual abuse she had experienced as a child by her swimming coach.
What an incredible woman, what a journey, what a life. I love that she had so much strength in body and mind, an abundance of grit, determination, courage and bravery and the unbelievable will to succeed and never give in when everything was stacked against her. Diana you are an inspiration in my eyes. See her for yourself in her TED talk.”
10. Madonna – Singer
Sandie: “My Shero is Madonna. The Immaculate Collection was the first album I bought and I loved it because it cut through all the boyband stuff around at the time (not that I’m slating boybands – shout out to The Backstreet Boys). But, when you’re a young girl, you want women idols. She’s never failed to be funny, playful, candid and absolutely, unapologetically, herself. She has self-belief and resilience beyond my wildest dreams, staying true to herself and her aspirations in the face of spiteful and cruel attacks on her image, her age and her music. She’s the personification of a middle finger to misogyny and hate and for that I love her. Watch her speech for receiving the Billboard Woman of the Year Award here.”
I mean, wow, what a collection of incredible women! It just goes to show that not all heroes wear capes…