Managing Director of Pinder Reaux & Associates, and the first Asian football director; Rupinder Bains talks about discrimination in the workplace, setbacks and why #YesSheCan is so important to young women.
At the age of just 16, Rupinder remembers feeling very deflated after a careers adviser insisted that pursuing a law degree - a male-dominated and white-dominated profession - would be the worst decision of her life and would not get her very far. Rupinder had already made the decision to go down a legal profession at just 6 years old “I had the confidence that I would succeed!” and at this moment in time if she could go back and speak to her 16-year-old self she would say “Well done for picking yourself up and sticking to your dreams and your passion! - if you want something badly enough, you will do it and achieve your goals.”
But Rupinder’s success has not come without its challenges. “Back in the day when I graduated, discrimination was overt, throughout interviews, there was an obvious dislike of my working-class background and a focus on what my parents did for a living rather than my qualifications. Knowing that I had something to prove and knowing that I was a good lawyer kept me motivated.”
“In order to break down, barriers in the workplace roles and positions should be strictly skills-based” notes Rupinder, “My strong academic qualifications definitely helped me get to where I am today and if organisations take a skills-based approach then the correct person will be taken on. One thing I would change in the world of work is the concept of appreciation, as organisations, we need to stop and appreciate our teams! Without these team members, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs so this needs to be perfected from the top down.”
Despite so many strong and independent role models, women are still feeling inferior or that they may not be able to achieve their ambitions that's why #YesSheCan is so important, it dares young girls to dream.
“I have a 13-year-old daughter who is questioning why society responds differently to men and women! And my advice to her, and many other women is to not shy away from a challenge, rise to them and give everything your best shot and persevere. There will always be times when you feel that you are not good enough but you must push through your personal barriers and you will surprise yourself with your own strength. It is always easy in the rat race to allow yourself to get lost in the stresses of day to day life but keeping calm and dignified is a quality that many strain to have. When you have it, it is recognised and will carry you a long way.”
Rupinder's biggest inspiration and motivators include her mum and mother in law, who are both strong women in their own rights, as well as working mums. “The support from my family and a lot of perseverance and confidence in myself has helped me to be a positive role model. It has not been easy to establish myself in this industry, but my family have always been a motivator, I have a son and a daughter and I always thought it was important for them both to appreciate the importance of achievement and self-worth.”
In regards to government quotas, Rupinder views them as a positive step in changing preconceived beliefs; “There are many industries that would never consider having a female board member, however by forcing a quota, organisations will take on members from diverse backgrounds and will realise their benefits to the business. Diversity helps to bring differences of opinions, challenges, experiences - my firm, for example, is very diverse and we thrive on the knowledge and experiences that we bring to the challenges we face! I am fortunate enough to work with a number of males with whom I've never had to address equality with and hearing my son describe himself as a feminist was one of my proudest achievements!”
Rupinder advises that it's important to get some down time- spend time with your family and give yourself a break. “I always tell my staff that this career is a life choice, but if I can do it being married, with 2 children and without any domestic assistance –then they can too! And if I can even inspire one other girl or woman to break another ceiling, then for me, that is a huge achievement in itself!”
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Linkedin: Rupinder Bains