Throughout March, we are celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing the stories of inspiring women in leadership positions across the sectors we work in.

Liza Clothier, Head of Fundraising and Communications at Homeless Oxfordshire, has worked in fundraising for 18 years, across a variety of areas including education, sustainability, disability and healthcare.

How do you Inspire Inclusion in your work and life?

Inclusion is one of my core values and is a guiding principle in my life and career. It’s about more than just making opportunities available for all; it’s about breaking down the barriers to participating and changing environments so that everyone feels welcome.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in leadership positions today, particularly in your sector?

Although fundraising is largely a female dominated industry, many of the senior roles are still dominated by men. Too many senior teams and exec boards are still stale, male and pale!

Have you faced any obstacles or resistance as a woman in a leadership position, and if so, how did you overcome them?

One of the most pernicious tropes is the harmful suggestions dressed up as advice, that essentially tell women to be more like men to fit in and be successful. For example, being told to wear a suit or not wear bright make-up or distracting jewellery if you want to be taken seriously, only seeks to put women in their place and ensure they continue to adhere to the old patriarchal norms. Seeing women ignore that advice and still succeed helped me ignore it too!

What is the most noticeable change or win for gender equality you’ve witnessed throughout your career?

Over the last few years, I’ve been privileged to work with so many encouraging and supportive women. They’ve always been there, quietly championing each other, but in the last few years, those voices have become louder and more insistent. Women are claiming their space at the top whilst being their authentic selves, and I love to see it!

What advice would you give to other women aspiring to leadership roles in the third sector?

Make a conscious decision to overcome imposter syndrome! Believe that you’re good enough. Everyone is learning (or making it up!) as they go along to some extent, you just need to take the plunge and join them.

How do you use decision-making power to foster a culture of inclusivity?

As a member of our SMT, I advocate for policies and initiatives such as flexible working that support wellbeing and work/life balance. Whilst women are still overwhelmingly the ones who take on caring responsibilities outside of work, we must ensure that our practices support them to succeed in all areas of their lives.

Do you advocate for gender equality and inclusivity outside of your professional role?

I try to call out inequality wherever I see it and I am a vocal cheerleader for all my impressive friends!

Did you have any role models or mentors who have helped you on your professional journey?

I learnt a lot from my old manager, Claire Kneller, about being authentic and not having to change myself in order to succeed.

I was hugely fortunate to be coached by the fabulous Charly White who helped me realise that I had the skills and knowledge to be a leader in fundraising.

Josh Larkin is a Recruitment Consultant for fundraising appointments. With a background in fundraising himself, he knows all too well the challenges of the sector. He is committed to working with clients and candidates to understand your motivations, and ensuring the right talent is in the right positions in all areas of fundraising. Get in touch with him through LinkedIn or via email.