International Women’s Day: Lorraine Eyers
Lorraine works in City Hall’s Public Liaison Unit. She also runs our women’s network. Here’s what she has to say about women, work and equality…
What does bold for change mean to you?
I think for me, the biggest thing is actually challenging discrimination and bias. I want to be the champion for gender equality here at City Hall. I want to make sure that equalities and the Mayor’s vision is taken on board. I’ll be working 100% to make sure that happens.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting her career?
I’ve worked here for almost 17 years, so I’ve seen a lot of change. If I was talking to a young woman just beginning her career, I’d say they need to be passionate about the job they do. To be successful, you need to be your real self. It’s about finding your personal brand. When you’re in a job, get yourself a good mentor. Their support and experience will be invaluable as you develop your career.
I’d also say young women need to learn to blow their own trumpet more. You do a good job, so you take credit and get praise for it. You own it. Women can have a lot of self-doubt - they see a job and think they won’t go for it, because they don’t have the exact experience or whatever. It’s called ‘imposter syndrome’. Some women worry that they’ll be ‘found out’, so don’t bother.
What should women do if they face discrimination at work?
You should be prepared to challenge it. You need to be self-empowered. Only then can you be ready to battle against and break down the barriers women face at work. If you’re a woman in a senior position, I believe it’s important to help those below. I went to a women’s leadership symposium recently.
I asked what you do if other women keep you down, and don’t recognise or promote you. There was a collective groan. I think it’s sad that women don’t support each other. Often women get stopped progressing by other women. All you do, if there are obstacles in your way, is go round them. Go to people who’ll give you that hand up. I’m passionate about helping women to get to the top.
Outside of work, I’m a school governor for two primary schools. I’ve heard the girls talking about STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), which is brilliant. I recently had a sabbatical in Toronto and there’s actually a global movement to get girls into technology.
In my school, they have a special project for STEM girls. The girls are really interested - they even had a discussion with Major Tim Peake in space! For women, it’s about building up your knowledge base, being prepared and making things happen. Women have to be on the ball and ready to bat.
You run the Women of London City Hall Network, can you tell us about it?
I set up the forum to help women share information and support each other in their careers. Through the network, we host events for women staff. We also work closely with learning and development to identify gaps in training to support women in their career development.
More and more women are joining the network, and that’s great. There’s also much more focus on gender equality under the new Mayor, which personally I’m delighted about.
You can find out more about International Women's Day and how you can get involved at www.internationalwomensday.com.