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‘Breaking the bias’ in our profession is vital, and not just to be fairer

by IIRSM Co-President Ruth Denyer

Diversity and inclusion is vital for managing risk, and next week many of us will focus on one D&I topic in particular: how to encourage more women into the profession, and into more leadership roles.

On International Women’s Day, on 8th March, I’m joining many of my peers in risk and safety for a virtual conference organised by the global coalition, OneWiSH, of which IIRSM is a supporter. It would be great if you could join us. The title of the event, Break the Bias, is also the theme of IWD this year.

IWD’s #BreakTheBias campaign invites us to imagine a gender equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. It’s a sentiment with which few of us would disagree. Morally it’s wrong that anyone is held back in life because of their gender.

For me, though, when I’m thinking about managing risk, it’s about much more than that.

First, it’s about representation. In health and safety in particular, those charged with managing the risks must surely reflect the people they’re protecting to gain the best possible understanding.

Second, we know from studies that diversity and inclusion in a decision making process is a driver for greater innovation and progress, which is vital for risk management. 

And third, it should go without saying, you get a much bigger talent pool to choose from. 

These are just three reasons why diversity and inclusion in risk is essential in our profession, in addition to it simply being fairer. It's how we get different perspectives, and the wide range of skills and backgrounds we desperately need to drive progress. On 8th March, our attention is on what this means for women in risk and safety.

I’m taking part in the Presidents’ Panel Discussion: The women leading the charge in professional membership organisations. I’m joined by OneWiSH Chair Anne Gardner-Aston, Christl Aggus, President of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE), IOSH President Louise Hosking and Christine Sullivan, President Elect of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP).

You will hear us talk in the session about how we were able to progress in a male-dominated profession, and about how we were often inspired by women as well as men on our career paths. You’ll also hear us talk about the advice we would give to our young selves, and our leadership styles.

This is a topic close to my heart so I was delighted to get the opportunity to take part. I hope you can join us for Break the Bias. It’s not too late to register.


* To register for Break the Bias, a OneWiSH event for International Women’s Day, click on this link.


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