‘Girl Power’ was never not a thing for me. I grew up in the ‘90s, obsessing first over Matilda and The Baby-Sitter’s Club (a sassy group of entrepreneurial tweens who probably shouldn’t have been trusted with the level of responsibility they had) before growing up and into John Marsden’s Tomorrow, When The War Began stories, a war series led by a teenage female heroine. Sick days were spent drinking Cup-a-Soup while watching Oprah Winfrey and Sally Jesse Raphael kick butt on-screen. The Spice Girls exploded into my world not long later, an in-your-face dynamo of legs, jeers, pride and sheer, straight-up fun that was impossible not to be intoxicated by. At the same time, my mother was warbling away to Alanis Morissette and bringing home glossy magazines that revered the humanitarian work of Princess Diana, gave props to Madonna’s fiery independence and reminded us, week after week, that sisters really were doing it for themselves.

Fast-forward 20 years and I was as surprised as anyone to find myself wide-eyed at Oprah yet again, blinking back tears on a crammed train ride home as I watched her Golden Globes speech. Standing before a sea of black – an audience dressed in solidarity, shunning colour to make a statement about sexual harassment and show support for the Time’s Up campaign – Oprah Winfrey elegantly, eloquently tore the world a new one. Because even now, in 2018, far past the time Marty McFly thought we would have flying cars and accurate weather forecasts, and certainly far past the time my 9-year-old self naively believed ‘Girl Power’ was known and embraced everywhere; even now women face the same dumb, frustrating inequalities that we did in the ‘90s, and the ‘80s, and all the way back to the beginning of time.

I could climb onto a very high soap box about this, but I am short, and this is a recruitment blog.

I am now painfully aware that ‘Girl Power’ is not a thing everywhere. We need look no further than #MeToo for proof of that. Locally, almost 90% of business directors in New Zealand are male. Most of my managers have been men. I have watched in frustration as male colleagues have received accolades and promotions ahead of equally competent, equally performing women, who had simply never been invited to exclusive golf days or Friday night beers (and laughed at when they asked to join). I have chanced upon a spreadsheet that recorded all female staff’s names and ranked them in terms of looks and dress, with marks gained for short skirts, makeup and heels; deducted for anything else. Those marks, unbelievably, were directly correlated to one’s “discretionary” annual bonus.

Today, in the wake of #MeToo, in the wake of Oprah’s blistering Golden Globes speech, and in the wake of a collective worldwide stirring, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her pregnancy. And a large chunk of New Zealand responded precisely how I feared it would: with ignorance.

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But that ignorance no longer represents a majority, and as Jacinda stands calmly in front of the nation to remind them she is not the first woman to ever multi-task, I hope more women stand calmly and make statements. Recruiters, when you are asked only to put men forward for a role, stand calmly and explain why you won’t discount all women from the process. When you are questioned about what female candidates plan to do with their ovaries over the next few years, stand calmly and explain why that is irrelevant. When you are handed dress codes overtly instructing women to wear makeup and heels daily, and “skirts rather than pants, please” while their male colleagues receive no such document, hold back the urge to break things and instead stand calmly and make that damn statement.

2018 is, in my humble opinion, to be the year of the #BossBitch. Collectively, the female voice is stronger than ever before, and with it comes a bounty of men just as tired as we are of watching women they love lose out. We are worthy of more, we simply have to keep saying so (and saying no, when the occasion calls).

Heck, look at this – we even have our first ever Whiteboard from a female voice.

Don’t be a dick, just be nice. It’s that easy.

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Natasha Foster

Natasha Foster

Recruitment Consultant at New Zealand firm Rice Consulting, shaking things up in the HR world. Photographer on the side, Te Reo student, rock climber and learner surfer. Most happy off the grid.

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