International Women’s Day: the importance of inspiring inclusion

At the House of St. John’s, we are committed to the empowerment of girls and women. We believe that by embracing our diverse experiences and sharing our knowledge, we can foster communities where women flourish. We are capable of excelling in all areas of life while offering support to one another, serving as inspirational figures, and taking the lead in advocating for friendship, courage, and resilience.

We sat down with our Head of House, Amy Grant and Managing Director of our Trading Company, Laura Alexander to find out more about what they think about the importance of inspiring inclusion for women in business.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role:

Laura: I work as Managing Director for the Trading Company attached to SJF. My role is to manage the two businesses within our portfolio which include the House of St John, a stunning coworking, office, meeting and event space in Queen Square and St Catherines Hospital which is a block of 10 luxury holiday lets in the centre of Bath in a decommissioned almshouse. 

Amy: I am the Head of House for House of St John’s. I manage the everyday operations, sales and client relations to the business. 

What do you love most about your job?

Laura: Work has always been about people to me, whether that is my team, my peer group, the wider network I meet in the course of my work or most importantly, our clients and guests. I am privileged to work with some brilliant people and that keeps me motivated. 

Amy: I am passionate about my job for several reasons. Every day, I am presented with new challenges that push me to grow and expand my skill set. My role provides me with continuous opportunities for learning, as I am constantly exposed to talented professionals across various sectors. Most of all, it’s knowing that the success of my work directly contributes to supporting the initiatives of St. John’s Foundation adds a profound sense of purpose to my day. 

This year’s IWD theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ – what does this mean to you?

Laura: Encouraging diversity and empowering people to thrive. Inspiring others to understand and value the fact that different experiences and perspectives enrich organisations and communities. Inclusion is about allowing individuals, whatever their experience, to contribute and ultimately feel at home in an organisation.

Amy: To me, “Inspire Inclusion” means actively championing diversity and equity in all aspects of life, whether it be in the workplace, communities, or society at large. It involves recognising and celebrating the unique contributions and perspectives that everyone brings to the table. It’s about creating spaces where everyone feels heard, supported, and encouraged to thrive to their fullest potential.

Why is inclusion so important in the workplace?

Laura: To maximise creativity, innovation and increase collaboration, people need to feel included – organisations need to see this as a win-win scenario. 

Amy: Inclusion in the workplace fosters diverse perspectives, boosts employee engagement and retention, enhances collaboration, and increases productivity.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?

Laura: In my last role I led an organisation through Covid – we were in the travel industry so were particularly hard hit. Creating a culture in a new remote world, ensuring communication was prioritised to support an often worried workforce, pivoting the business to survive in a hostile environment were all incredibly challenging. But we survived!

Amy: The biggest challenge I have faced and continue to face in my career is impostor syndrome. Although I’ve worked tirelessly to be where I am, when I’ve been given the opportunity, I question my capabilities and whether I’m the right person. The biggest thing that this has taught me is the need for a supportive team because nobody knows everything, but together you have a better chance, and this brings huge validation. 

Which women inspire you the most?

Laura: I work in an organisation that walks the talk and so I am surrounded at all levels in my workplace with brilliant women. They motivate me everyday. Not forgetting my wife, who looks after our baby boy and in doing so, has a 24/7 ‘job’ at home.

Amy: Every woman brings something valuable to the table. We learn from each other’s strengths, struggles, and triumphs, fostering a collective spirit of empowerment and solidarity. In recognising the inherent worth and unique contributions of all women, we celebrate the beauty of diversity and the power of unity.