Print industry women speak up for IWD2023

International Women's Day 2023's theme is #EmbraceEquity, giving women equal opportunities
International Women's Day 2023's theme is #EmbraceEquity, giving women equal opportunities

International Women’s Day 2023 has arrived, this year encouraging the world to #EmbraceEquity and guarantee equality of outcome for women.

Celebrated on 8 March, the annual event celebrates women’s achievements in all spheres of life, and rallies people to fight for gender parity.

This year’s theme, #EmbraceEquity, has been chosen to highlight the fact that just giving women the same opportunities as men is not enough, said the organising campaign group International Women’s Day.

“Equity,” it said, “recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome,”.

The group called on people and companies to reflect on how they could be part of the solution to inequality, rather than the problem, and encourage friends, family and colleagues to embrace equity as key to putting men and women on an equal footing.

A selection of women from across the print and allied trades shared their thoughts on International Women’s Day:

Elodie Bugnicourt, sustainability manager, Graphic Packing International

“Our industry generally has a lower female representation, but this depends on the position and location. 

“I am a true believer that diversity, equality, and inclusion are strong contributors to a more productive working environment. 

“We need to do a better job to show that a woman can work in positions which are currently under-represented such as manufacturing, where they can play an important role in producing packaging that will make a difference.”

Zoe Deadman, managing director, KCS Print

“I think in reality the industry has seen good movement in terms of gender equality, but it’s still very much in those office-based roles like sales and marketing. The area for improvement is within production itself.

“I think, traditionally, that has been harder to change because of the factory element of that work, lifting weights — it’s something that still puts women off from choosing to join the industry. It is often that rather than necessarily the recruitment process itself: 

“We’ve had three or four women on our production floor, and they are very good at the role, very detail oriented — all the things you would want in a print factory, and very reliable.

“I think women just think they will not be suited to that environment, sometimes, before they have actually come in to see it. It is actually quite easy to find solutions to that small set of circumstances where they might need [help with lifting, for example.]

“Society has definitely progressed towards being more inclusive and positive, open to the best person for the job.

“I think digital technology has potentially helped change the image of the industry, too. It now seems a more technologically advanced industry rather than [when] people would just associate it with oily rags. People can have a very interesting and varied career in print, which is probably different to sort of the ‘man and boy’ idea of what print was 20 years ago.”

Kath Doran, managing director, Spectrum Plastics

“Having been in the print industry for 35 years, I have seen huge changes.

“Going back just to an IPIA dinner that I attended in 2008: there were 120 attendees, of which five were women, and a couple of them were wives rather than being industry people themselves. 

“If we flip forward to right now, going back to the dinner the IPIA held in December last year, the mix of male and female attendees was pretty much half and half. There's been a huge change. 

“You don't walk into a room now and you're almost the only female in the room, so I have to say that the recognition of women for their ability has moved forward incredibly. 

“I think, too, it’s definitely moving forward not just in our industry, but there has been a massive shift [in society at large]. It took a while to get there.”

Beth Marston, client success manager, PSE Offline Marketing

“IWD is a day to celebrate women and all the amazing things we do. But also, a chance to reflect and evaluate the changes that still need to be made. 

“Equity recognises the differences between individuals and allocates the resources and opportunities to reach an ‘equal’ outcome. Everyone deserves the same outcome, but individual paths may just be a little different.”

Charlotte Scott-Parker, technical specialist, James Cropper

"There has definitely been a shift in the paper, packaging and print industry and effort is being made to create greater inclusivity and develop a culture of fairness and equality.

"While it is still a very male dominated industry, there are more and more women joining the sector, which is a huge step change. I work with women who lead teams mainly made up of men, often men who are older than them, and this is really refreshing to see. It demonstrates how the industry is changing.

"To promote women in the industry, I would like to see the sector become more visible at showcasing career paths, within universities and other academic routes.

"It’s important for the next generation of talented women to have role models to aspire to and understand the opportunities that the industry offers."