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Deeds Not Words - Procession 2018

Helene Reardon-Bond

On a hot sunny Sunday, 10 June, FRC colleagues and I took part in the most amazing celebration to mark the centenary of (some) women first winning the vote in 1918. It has been my pleasure for the past year to play a tiny role in supporting the Creative Arts Company - Artichoke: https://www.processions.co.uk/ to shape and promote Processions2018 which was covered live on BBC1.
 
Artichoke, with the support of 14-18 Now, had the inspiration to organise these mass public arts events in all the capitals across the four UK nations. Thousands of women from all walks of life and backgrounds came together to march. They made the most beautiful colourful banners inspired by the `processions and marches just as the suffragettes did 100 years ago as part of their struggles to get the vote. On Sunday everyone was given a free purple, white or green scarf and we marched in these three columns depicting the Suffrage colours, being cheered on by many men who stood on the pavements giving their whole-hearted support. The 400,000 scarfs were specially made and dyed in India for the event.
 
These events both commemorated and recreated the mass marches of over 100 years ago but  also were a reminder that we have still have a long way to go for women to achieve parity with men. One group familiar to the FRC is the 30% Club who were out in force with their banner and also others saying ‘A woman’s place is in the Boardroom!’.  One group’s banner said ‘Equal Seats, Equal Voices’ recalling that it has taken 100 years and we still have only have around 30% women MPs in the House of Commons (where the London march ended) and at the local council level numbers are similar and seem to have stalled.
 
At the FRC we have recently consulted on the changes to the Corporate Governance Code to ensure greater transparency of who leads our top UK companies and we are undertaking new research to monitor and track current levels of compliance for reporting on diversity. We look forward to publishing this in the Autumn (watch this space). We have signed up to the Women in Finance Charter and also published our gender pay gap information even though we were under the 250-employee threshold.
 
On Sunday, 10 June, there were no riots, no fights, no litter, just lots of sunshine, fun and celebrations. So with others from FRC we joined the 30,000 plus women in London to march, sing and cheer just as Emmeline Pankhurst said ‘Make a Noise’ - well we certainly did!

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