Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day 2023 and have chosen to highlight a wonderful selection of truly inspirational women who are vital members of the commercial interiors sector, each playing a different role. We spoke with Carolyn Mitchell about being an inspiration to others, the women she celebrates, the advice she gives as a mentor and the potential impact of greater gender equality on her work.
Please could you introduce yourself and your role?
What does it feel like to be inspired by, and inspire, people around you?
There is one word for me that describes the feeling of inspiring and being inspired, and it is excitement! Excitement about a vision for a better future, where everyone can make a difference, by being the best we can be. If we are inspired, we are passionate and focused we want to learn, listen, and think creativity through ideas and problem solving. When we are inspired suddenly everything feels achievable!
Being in a position of leadership is a privileged place, inspiring those around us is so rewarding, it’s so important to nurture and encourage others to believe in themselves and this can only be achieved by creating an inclusive environment where people flourish.
Which inspirational women do you celebrate?
As women we all are in a position of influence to inspire within our relationship with ourselves, as mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and more publicly and professionally as leaders. They are all such important relationships. I admire many friends and colleagues, women from all areas of life that navigate all these roles with humility, wisdom, kindness, maturity and unshakable inner strength, remaining true to themselves. Most recently Jacinda Ardem, New Zealand’s recent Prime minister, she challenged the stereotype of male and female leadership, and stayed true to herself.
What are three pieces of advice you give to the women you mentor?
- What you think, feel and say always has a value, find your voice at the table, say it even when your voice trembles, be true to yourself and own it- therein lies your strength!
- Every challenge teaches you a little more about who you are, embrace the journey as if you had chosen it, change is constant. Do not be afraid, you have options.
- Keep learning, reading, experiencing life so you understand the world around you, yourself and others. When you don’t understand, listen to your intuition.
Would greater gender equality create a more sustainable future for our sector and what would that entail?
Absolutely it would however, this must start with us as women ignoring unspoken rules. Often, we hold ourselves back by our own limiting beliefs about others view of our place in the world. When you are not afraid, when you know who you are and the value you bring, nothing will stop you.
We are all different, we shouldn’t deny this, but for me it’s about equal opportunity, equal rewards, equal value, equal share of voice based on ability and fact. Different approaches, different energy, different views, and most importantly different new outcomes. Diversity is important in any high performing team, it makes logical sense, it’s not a women, vs men issue. Diversity is what drives change and challenges us to think in a different way. Good and experienced leaders understand this and encourage it.