Celebrating International Women's Day with Helen Jones

Celebrating International Women's Day with Helen Jones

Published March 12, 2024

3 minute read

On International Women’s Day, the EcoOnline team celebrated our inspiring women in leadership roles. Helen Jones, the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) at EcoOnline, shared her professional journey as well as words of wisdom in relation to "Inspiring Inclusion", the 2024 theme of International Women’s Day.  

Tell us about your background and any personal career highlights.

With 15 years of experience in a global construction and services company, I transitioned to the software world six years ago. Before joining EcoOnline, I worked in traditionally male-dominated sectors, rising from Site Engineer to an Executive team member leading a global delivery function. My move to software saw me running the UK business and working on the team that secured the sale to a private equity firm. Today, I focus on delivering exceptional service and customer management for our global audience. 

What have been some of your proudest moments? 

Beyond professional accomplishments, my proudest moments include becoming the youngest-ever Chartered Engineer in the company's history, completing a high-potential program, leading the development of our market-leading 2020 sustainability strategy, and, most importantly, raising three beautiful children. They have been part of my journey every step of the way. 

In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges women face internationally, and how can we, as individuals and organisations, contribute to overcoming them? 

The underrepresentation of women in senior leadership remains a significant global challenge. While studies show gender-balanced leadership teams improve business outcomes, we haven't yet normalised flexible career paths for women aspiring to leadership roles. 

Many organisations lack proactive programs to nurture female leadership, hindering progress toward necessary levels. While the percentage of women in leadership increases, it's a slow and unsystematic process. 

Organisations need comprehensive plans to address bias and ensure inclusive practices throughout the employee journey, offering equal opportunities for all regardless of background. I am proud to be a member of EcoOnline’s executive leadership team. I look forward to bringing forth the positive experiences I had at my last organisation that helped shape their existing women’s Employee Resource Group. 

As a female executive, how do you mentor and encourage other women, particularly those early in their careers, to thrive in their chosen fields? 

My approach to mentoring focuses on aspiration and confidence. Young women often face significant self-doubt, believing they need to meet every requirement for a job role before applying, while men are more likely to apply with just 30% of the qualifications. I empower them to overcome these doubts and embrace their potential. I also emphasise staying true to themselves – authenticity, not conformity, is key to success.  

Three smiling women walking in an office

I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by a talented team at EcoOnline, and I'm especially excited by the opportunities that lie ahead. There are so many fantastic women with budding futures, all within the walls of this organisation! 

In your experience, what are some effective strategies to challenge unconscious bias and create a more inclusive environment? 

My experience shows a few key strategies for tackling unconscious bias and fostering inclusion: role models, open communication, and acceptance. Highlighting diverse success stories can inspire and motivate others. Additionally, creating safe spaces for open discussions about unconscious bias, both in the workplace and during recruitment, allows individuals to be authentic and embrace diverse perspectives. Recognizing that "different" is valuable, not detrimental, is crucial for building a truly inclusive environment.  

As we celebrate International Women's Day, what message of hope and encouragement would you offer to girls and women around the world? 

As a mother of two girls, I celebrate International Women's Day with a message of unwavering hope and encouragement: believe in yourself because you can achieve anything. Every year, we witness progress towards equality, the narrowing of opportunity gaps, and an increasing number of men becoming allies in this journey. Remember, you can exceed any limitation – stay true to your authentic self and never apologise for who you are! 

What are some experiences you've had that shaped your commitment to inclusion and gender equality? 

An experience that deeply impacted my commitment to inclusion happened early in my career. I was in the running for a contract director role, made it to the final stage of interviews, and felt confident based on my qualifications and performance. However, I ultimately didn't get the job.  

Later, I learned from the recruiter that despite positive feedback and no negative remarks, they hesitated to place a woman in front of the client. While initially frustrated, I refused to let this experience define me. Instead, I channeled it into my drive and determination, and moved into more senior roles within the organisation. This experience and others throughout my career solidified my belief in the importance of equal opportunity and paved the way for my unwavering commitment to inclusion and gender equality. 

People working together around a wooden table with a bulletin board in the background

What concrete steps can individuals and organizations take to make "Inspire Inclusion" more than just a theme for International Women's Day, but a reality every day? 

To "Inspire Inclusion" beyond a one-day event, individuals and organisations must take specific actions: champion allyship and consider inclusion throughout recruitment. Ensure diverse interview panels, offer flexible work arrangements, and craft inclusive job postings.   

Let's get women charging forward! We need a level playing field, where women see themselves not just qualified for bigger roles, but ready to conquer them. By building strong support systems – think women's networks, mentorship programs, and generous parental leave – we empower women to soar in their careers. This isn't just about raising awareness, it's about creating lasting, equitable change. As EcoOnline grows, I'm thrilled to integrate these very ideas into our company culture, paving the way for a future where women thrive. 

We’re thrilled with Helen Jones at the helm, implementing lasting change to the EcoOnline environment to help our women soar!  

Author Helen Jones

Helen Jones is the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) at EcoOnline. She has 15 years of experience in global construction and services, and six years of experience in the software industry.

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