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Ulrica Hartogh: "Balance for Better extends beyond gender balance."

​International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for communities and organisations around the world to raise awareness about accelerating gender parity. Here at Phaidon International, we take this day to celebrate the contributions women make to our business and our daily lives. We sat with Ulrica Hartogh, our HR Director, to talk to her about her career and what International Women’s Day means to her.

Hi Ulrica, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’ve recently joined Phaidon International as Global HR Director. My career in HR started in retail. I moved to the UK in 2006 from sunny Cape Town and have since then worked in media, recruitment, Ed tech and consulting.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day to me means celebrating women who have made a significant contribution to society – women across the world, whether in science, technology, arts or business, and the positive impact they’ve had on the lives of people. There are many phenomenal women who have faced severe challenges to achieve their goals but have persevered, regardless, to pave the way for others. This day is for them.

The theme for this year’s IWD is #BalanceforBetter. What do you think companies can do to create better gender balance?

Outward-looking, businesses can do lots to attract female talent. For example, linking up with universities and colleges and creating awareness about career opportunities women may not have considered before. Inward-looking, we need to look at the environment we create through our policies, behaviours and practices to ensure our workplaces are more inclusive and balanced.

For me, #BalanceforBetter extends beyond gender balance, it is also about creating a work environment that is inclusive of people from every background, ability and experience – where people feel like they can bring themselves to work. Diversity is inherently intersectional, we also need to support and celebrate LGBTQ+ employees and those of different ethnicities, thinking styles and more.

Who are the female role models in your life and career?

I’ve been lucky to have had wonderful teachers growing up, who encouraged me to grab opportunities when they were presented and to never give up. Growing up in apartheid South Africa had its challenges to say the least. So, my parents, particularly my mother played a big role in pushing education throughout my life – instilling the value that I would never be defined by circumstances, instead through working hard, be the driver of my destiny.

Thanks for sharing, Ulrica. Lastly, who would you have over for dinner, man, woman, dead or alive?

Goodness, who would I have over for dinner? Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Mick Jagger and Michelle Obama.

Are you struggling to make your workforce more gender balanced? Are you curious to know what employees think about diversity? Download our guide here.