Since 1911, International Women’s Day has been a call to action for accelerating gender equality. It is a day to celebrate women's achievements; educate and raise awareness for women's equality and advancement and lobby for accelerated gender parity.
There is clearly still work to do, but we have come a long way since 1911.
At Marks & Clerk, inclusivity, equal opportunities for all, and respect for individual differences underpin our values of trust, excellence collegiality and resourcefulness. We ensure that our recruitment processes encompass diversity and inclusion and that development opportunities are available to all -this allows our exceptional women to progress and deliver the highest standard of work for our clients.
To celebrate International Women's Day this year, we asked our colleagues to tell us about women that inspire them. Some highlights can be found below:
Lexie Wang, M&C Beijing
My inspiration is: Eileen Ailing Gu, Olympian
The story of Eileen Ailing Gu, winner of the women's Freeski Big Air at the 2022 Winter Olympics, is inspiring to me. Her experience demonstrates the incredible strength of a confident, self-disciplined girl who never gave up. Eileen began her ski training at the age of eight. Irrespective of the hardship of the training, extreme danger and the resulting injures, she never complained and never gave up. Eileen once said that she only has “0.1% of talent” and that the rest of her success came from her passion, hard work, dedication and self-discipline.
Last year, in the Women's Freeski Big Air Final at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Eileen was advised to settle for the silver medal with the double cork 1440, but she decided to push the limit and challenge the 1620 double cork. She made it! Not only did she win the gold medal, but she also set a new record that had never been challenged by a female before.
Eileen reminds us, that as women, we sometimes need to liberate our inner perceptions of ourselves, but we may need to challenge external perceptions too, especially in some social settings. However, as long as we dare to think carefully and fight hard, we can definitely break through the shackles, create our own miracles and glow with the glory of women.
Kieren Thomson, M&C Cambridge
My inspiration is: Rebecca Lucy Taylor, Writer and musician, likely better known for her music under the moniker Self Esteem
Growing up, I didn't have a strong female role model - the main people in my life were men, be it my dad, older mates, teachers or even people in bands I admired. I wish Rebecca had been around during that time in my life. She uses her platform and her music to explain, often frankly, the importance of listening to women, the attitudes of men (and women) towards sex and sexuality, and how people can improve their perspectives in the current digital age. I find her inspirational because some of her most inspiring assets could arguably have worked against her growing up. I too had to work to find my own voice, I was quiet and sometimes clumsy as a teenager and I also misunderstood myself a lot as a young man, not really being the person I wanted to be. I love that Rebecca has taken control of her narrative and uses it to help others too, and she has helped me understand my own role in the lives of the women around me.
In my spare time, I host a new music radio show for a local station, and in promoting Self Esteem I have struck up conversations with Rebecca on these matters. Back in 2021, she very kindly sent me her new album, signed and personalised. As someone who didn't have a strong female lead in his life growing up, to have that now - even from a distance - is extremely valuable to me.
Essie Zhang, M&C Beijing
My inspiration is: My M&C Beijing colleagues
International Women's Day is an opportunity for women to come together and look back on a rich history of struggle for equality justice, peace and development. I am delighted to celebrate this holiday with you all.
Sincerely, I’m honoured to be part of Marks & Clerk, because it gives us equal opportunities to work. Both men and women are treated equally. There’s no gender discrimination and no male superiority here, which is very worthy of recognition and praise. At the same time, I like my colleagues who are a lovely group of people. Not only do they have excellent professional knowledge and a rigorous working attitude, but also they are also friendly and inclusive. Especially during the epidemic, no matter how difficult the conditions were, we always stuck together, helped each other and did our best to get the job done. I am so lucky to have them around me. I do believe that we will move forward to a better tomorrow. I would like to wish all women a happy International Women's Day.
Paul Gilbert, M&C Birmingham
My inspiration is: Rebecca Davies, Information Services Manager at Marks & Clerk
Over my career, I have had many female managers and have always found them to be efficient and understanding. Prior to joining Marks & Clerk, the head of the IP department in which I worked was a woman and I had the utmost respect for her ability and leadership skills. Therefore, when I joined Marks & Clerk, I was not concerned in the slightest about reporting to a woman. Although I have a lot of experience and have gained considerable expertise in patent searching during my career, there were aspects of my new role that were very different and new to me. My manager, Rebecca Davies, was patient, understanding and supportive of me as I got to grips with these new skills. I have been with Marks & Clerk for over seven years and, in that time, our working relationship has continued to be productive and I feel that Rebecca has enabled me to develop my skillset and to grow as a person.
I consider myself fortunate to be working alongside so many talented women, both in the business generally and in the Information Services team specifically.
Susan Bradley, M&C Oxford
My inspiration is: Liliana Saravia-Comley, Office Manager at Marks & Clerk
Lili used to be our Head of Formalities; although she was incredibly busy, she always had time to answer queries and to help with tricky situations. And even though it wasn't her responsibility, she went out of her way to support and encourage me when I first joined M&C.
Now, Lili is our Office Manager; she is an absolutely fantastic organiser and can arrange meetings, exams and social events for 35 people at the drop of a hat - yet she still always has time to talk and to check how I am doing.
Lili is also very intelligent - she studied Law in Colombia - but she never makes a big deal of this, and many people probably don't realise how smart she is. On top of all this, she is a super mum. Lili is the most generous person I know, always full of energy and always smiling - however I am feeling, she makes life better. As an office, we would be lost without her, and without her support and kindness I wouldn't be where I am today. She is a true inspiration. #LovelyLili.
Kelly Liu, M&C Beijing
My inspiration is: Julia yang (Yang Shuang)
The inspiring story of a woman I want to share is about my classmate and best friend, Julia yang (Yang Shuang), who was admitted to MBA program of Georgetown University on a full scholarship ten years ago. As the youngest student in the class, she graduated at the top of her class. After working for a Global 500 company for several years, she is now a senior executive in the China office of a leading financial company. She loves reading, sports and travel. She is very self-disciplined and dedicated. She often shares her thoughts on reading and travel, which always inspires and motivates those around her, including me!
On International Women's Day this year, we would like to share three tips with young women, namely:
1) Use your best endeavours to work, work hard and give yourself no reason to regret;
2) Don't set limits for yourself, believe in your unlimited potential; and
3) Group together to keep warm, which means in the workplace, women are encouraged to help each other, i.e. “girls help girls”.
Kim Arnold M&C Birmingham
My inspiration is: Nikki Shurvinton, dance teacher, blogger, fundraiser, friend
I met Nikki back in 2002 when we performed together in West Side Story. We hit it off straight away through our love of dance, theatre and motorsport! I discovered that a few years earlier, when she was 22, her kidneys had failed and she went into total renal failure. She had just opened her dance school and was at the start of her career. She went onto the transplant list but her Dad stepped up as a live donor, donating one of his kidneys, which affectionately became known as Sidney the Kidney.
As soon as Nikki got her diagnosis, she wanted to raise awareness of organ donation and raise money for equipment for her local renal ward. Therefore, Kidney Kabaret was born, an annual variety show, staged by Nikki and her Dad, inviting performers from across the midlands to take part. This continued for 10 years, raising almost £40,000. Then, 15 years ago, Nikki lost her mum to ovarian cancer so another performance was staged along with a charity ball to raise money for the Eve Appeal.
Five years ago, Nikki herself got cancer, partly caused by the immunosuppressants she takes to prevent organ rejection. Soon after diagnosis, she set up a blog, ‘Crack On’ to support other renal/cancer patients and to raise awareness of both conditions. She had radiotherapy to try to shrink the tumour which unfortunately didn’t work so she had to have life-changing surgery, now living with a stoma. Of course she’s named it – Paloma the Stoma!
Then her health took another hit. The radiotherapy had caused Sidney to fail and she had to have him removed. She’s now back on dialysis three times a week and is unable to go onto the transplant list due to her cancer and other associated health issues. Now you’d think someone who has had so much to deal with would take it easy, but no. Her dance school has continued to go from strength to strength, she still performs on stage when she can, and supports her students in their auditions and careers.
She is an inspiration to everyone she meets and an amazing friend to my son and me. Whenever we have a bad day we think, what would Nikki say? She’d say, Crack on!
….and finally, a lovely story from Xuefang Huang, also part of our team in Beijing:
On Monday night (6 March 2023), after grabbing a bite to eat at the food court of a mall next to the office, I left in a rush. Yesterday afternoon (7 March), while preparing for INTA registration, I realised the credit card was not with me. I rushed home, but it was not there, either. Today (8 March), I continued the search in the office, but still no luck. It was only then that I started to realise that my tote with the wallet might have been left somewhere, which had everything in it, like various IDs, bank cards, and all the cash that had been kept for years (yes, we no longer use cash in daily lives and only use phones for e-payments). With a glimmer of hope, I went to the food court. The receptionist immediately contacted the attendant in charge on Monday night and after a quick search in the lost& found, they found the tote and returned it to me. Throughout the process, I received warm, professional and attentive help. All of them were women! A thought flashed through my mind afterwards as to whether things would have been different if the attendant had been someone else that day. Yes, it was a mean thought, but not entirely lacking in basis in reality.
In China, the self-reliance of women from all backgrounds and the moral standards they exhibit are often inspiring and moving. Despite often being born into families where they were not treated equally, they never give up in the face of hardship, work to their best ability and always strive to better themselves, while also being kind to others and reaching out to other women. I do not know if this little incident proves that, but it certainly makes this International Women's Day so memorable.