We’re celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th and throughout the week we will be speaking to some inspirational women who we have supported in business.
We start by sitting down with Raina Heverin, Co-founder of SupplyWell and founder and MD of Reculture to hear her story so far.
Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?
First and foremost, it’s a chance to recognise the achievements of women around the world. From mothers to business leaders to scientists, artists, and activists, women have made significant contributions to every aspect of society. By celebrating these achievements, we can inspire future generations of women to reach their full potential.
It’s also an opportunity to acknowledge the ongoing challenges women face. From the gender pay gap to discrimination and harassment, as well as barriers when returning to work after having children, there are still significant obstacles that prevent women from achieving equality in the workplace. By shining a light on these issues, we can work to create a more just and equitable world for all.
So let’s celebrate International Women’s Day not just for one day, but for every day.
Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
Growing up mixed race in a predominantly white community meant I always struggled with my own identity. This affected my confidence and for the longest time, I wasn’t sure where I would fit in. There were similar parallels when it came to entering the world of work. The industries that appealed to me seemed, from the outside at least, to be male-dominated and that was certainly the case. So the first barriers I encountered were around not knowing if or how I could build a career I would like. In terms of how I overcame that challenge, I think it came down to who I was. I always knew I was willing to take risks and leave my comfort zone. When I graduated, I moved to London and started work. Soon after that, I did voluntary work in Costa Rica working with children. With each change, I met more people from a diverse range of backgrounds. I met people who looked like me. Or who shared similar fears and prejudices. Knowing I wasn’t alone, gave me the confidence to push and work hard for the career I wanted.
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
Be yourself. It’s not about changing to fit the environment you’re in; it’s about finding the right environment for you. That’s stuck with me and is a big part of the ethos of SupplyWell and ReCulture. We ensure people are able to work in environments where they’ll feel valued and can make an impact.
How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?
I think there are a few ways. We can provide mentorship and support to women who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship. And take the time to identify women in our teams and networks who have the right qualities to be a leader and offer them encouragement and some of our time so they pursue their goals. This might also involve connecting them with other female founders and leaders who have different perspectives and journeys to share.
As a mentor with the Women of Colour Global Network (WOCGN) I have been given the opportunity to support women of colour starting out or early on in their careers and this is something I would have benefited from so much when I was younger.
Inside companies, the focus should be on eliminating the gender pay gap, creating more flexible work arrangements and addressing biases and discrimination in hiring and promotion.
I also think it’s important to celebrate the achievements of women who have overcome barriers and achieved success in their careers. By shining a spotlight on role models, we can inspire the next generation of women to pursue their dreams and strive for the top
Has there been a particular woman that has inspired you in your career?
My mum. She left her home when she was 16 on her own to come to a different country and study English. She was away from home in a place where she looked different from everybody else. This was in a day and age when there wasn’t much support. She and my dad had to wait 10 years and get approval in order to marry. She struggled with her identity but through her resilience, she came through all of it and became an amazing mother and person. Being a mother to 2 wonderful children myself, I realise just how much she must have gone through so far from her home and her family.
Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?
Diversity brings together different perspectives and experiences, which leads to new ideas that wouldn’t have been thought of and challenges ideas that wouldn’t have been challenged. That means more creativity and better decision-making, which helps companies offer better products, services and experiences to their customers. It breaks down barriers and encourages inclusivity. That helps people feel at home in their environments, which in turn leads to higher levels of happiness and productivity.
Thanks for chatting with us, Raina, we look forward to watching the next steps in your exciting journey!