It’s International Women’s Day today, a chance to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women across the globe. This year, we’ve asked Tania Carrigan, Head of Communications at Crimestoppers, to reflect on challenge, change and women that she finds inspirational.
Q. What does your role at Crimestoppers involve?
A. I lead and manage the Communications team (Media, Digital, Marketing and Campaigns); my main responsibilities include developing and implementing the organisation’s communication strategy; developing the Crimestoppers brand and driving digital innovation. I have seven people in my team and together we support Crimestoppers activity across the UK: it’s busy, but we have a lot of fun, too!
Q. How did you get to where you are today?
A. I left university with a degree in politics ready to make my mark in international development. I was lucky to secure an overseas role for an NGO, but it wasn’t for me. I came back to the UK a little adrift and a lot disheartened. I knew I wanted to work in charities but just wasn’t sure what or how. I applied for an advocacy position at the National Autistic Society, where I enjoyed the external communication tasks, and this led to my journey in comms and marketing.
Since then my career has predominately focused on how to influence change, whether it is to lobby MPs on behalf of the Commission for Racial Equality to sign a pre-election compact to oppose the use of racial rhetoric in general election campaigning; encouraging the public to contact their MPs on behalf of Shelter to secure more affordable housing; promote ID cards or showcase the very best of Britain to encourage the world to do business with the UK through the GREAT Britain campaign.
Q. What’s the biggest professional challenge you’ve faced?
A. There are too many to single out, but the most challenging experiences have been when my responsibilities with childcare have collided with work priorities. Sadly many women I know experience the same. Do I sacrifice career opportunities so I can juggle family commitments? It was particularly difficult when my children were very young and was brought into sharp focus when I learnt a colleague of mine, who had a similar level of responsibility and experience, was being paid quite a lot more than me – the motherhood penalty.
Q. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold for Change’. How do you, personally, embrace change?
A. Change is inevitable and I personally embrace it by not fighting it. Although stability is comforting, I think you risk becoming complacent if you resist change. So I try to stay positive, resilient and focus on the outcomes I want to realise.
Q. Tell us about women that you find inspirational
A. It’s clichéd but I’d have to say my mother, who was a career woman at a time when Asian, Muslim women had too few opportunities to progress professionally. She was incredibly outspoken, focused but compassionate and a fantastic mum. She was authentic and maintained her own distinctive voice. I’m fortunate to know many women – friends, colleagues, previous teachers – who are successful on their terms and followed their own paths to ‘boldness’ rather than fit into pre-conceived notions of who they should be.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold for Change’. Go to the International Women’s Day website to see how you can support women’s equality, freedom and empowerment around the world.