It's absolutely right to celebrate the success and achievements of women. But I also want to celebrate some men who helped me to succeed, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without them onside, frankly. Because of my age (53 if you're interested...) it was men who helped me to succeed, not women. Why? Because there were no senior women around. I started out as a lawyer and although women were the majority in my class at law school - there weren't many in the world of work to look up to.
So my role models were men. Kind, good decent men who had daughters my age and who cared if I succeeded or not. They recognised ambition in me. They recognised a certain fragility but they also recognised what I was good at and the value I could add. Without realising what they were doing, they coached me to have the confidence to succeed.
They taught me, they trusted me and they challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, by giving me responsibility, expecting me to get on with it and expecting me to be capable. And when I needed support, they were there...sometimes offering tissues, sometimes offering advice, sometimes giving me a talking to, but always making me feel I was every bit as good, valued and valid as they were. For that I will always be grateful. Above all, they listened to me, didn't talk over the top of me, didn't dismiss my opinions.
Maybe I was lucky, but I don't think so. I think there are a lot of men out there who are delighted to work with, support and encourage women. Just as there are many women who are delighted to work with, support and encourage men. On International Women's Day, let's thank everyone who got us to where we are today, no matter what their gender is. Women have a lot to be grateful for.
Footnote: who were those good men: my Dad, who taught me to make boats out of wood, to understand cars, bicycles, trainsets, rugby, golf and non-girly things.... Kenneth Pritchard, the Secretary General of the Law Society of Scotland who believed in me, promoted me and put me on the management team at the age of 26 and Leslie Cumming, the Chief Accountant at the Law Society who taught me to understand accounting, financial management, team management, and the need to get up there and do public speaking. Extraordinary men. Thank you.