IWD 2022: Interview with Deborah Brock
For our final interview we are joined by Deborah Brock for our International Women’s Day series. Deborah is the CEO and Co-Founder of Nua Fertility, which is a pioneering, Irish, fertility health company which was created through Deborah’s personal passion for fertility health, supporting people and their communities.
Why do you think diversity is so important in the workplace?
“I believe diversity in the workplace is so important. A diverse workplace creates greater creativity and innovation. By having a diverse mix of individuals working together means we can have a workplace that you will get different perspectives and opinions this I believe can help grow a business. Diversity in the workplace is all about creating an inclusive environment, accepting everyone individual differences which I believe supports employees to reach their full potential”.
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
“When the time came to starting a family, my relationship with my job and career changed. Suddenly I had experienced fertility challenges and felt I didn’t have supports available to me. They were personal right? And not work related, so how could I ask for support. I felt I had to manage each IVF failure and loss alone. Yet, I wasn’t alone. One in six couples experience infertility and seek treatment. Within my organisation the company policies and procedures focused on those who had success on their family building journey and on areas such as parental leave. Pregnancy and childbirth were highly visible and celebrated (the amount of baby shower lunches we had), fertility challenges on the other hand are invisible and silent. I was at senior management level, yet after each failed round of IVF or loss I had to walk back into our management meetings, smile, and act like nothing happened. Lengthy fertility treatments have serious emotional, physical, and financial impacts on a woman and her partner. I know as I was that woman. I truly believe there are several actions leaders can take to understand these impacts and to foster an environment of support and inclusion. Once I started my own company, I realised very quickly that I can take those actions and make decisions and I (even with a very small team) can implement policies that can support women and men on their family building journeys. I am very proud to say that as a small start-up we have a Reproductive Health policy written into our handbook”.
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
“I am the proud mother to a beautiful nine-year-old daughter- Ella. She is our Chief Ideas Officer (she decided that was her role in our company and has the confidence to pitch her ideas to our team). For Ella this is the norm and not the exception. Whether this is in business or in sport. She started playing rugby with the under 8’s team in Greystones Rugby club. This was a mixed team of girls and boys (well two girls to be precise), she loved playing the game but each Sunday I would hear her say to me, “mum I don’t think the boys notice us”; “Mum I never get passed the ball, I am right beside a boy, but he looks over me and passes to another boy”. This is frustrating as a mum to see and hear, yet it is very common. On that pitch all she saw were boys training with her and men coaching her. It is so important to have female role models. Role models are recognized as crucial to helping the world overcome gender bias and achieve gender equality: if women can see themselves represented, they can do it. Ella moved to an all-girls Rugby team, her coaches are men and women and her manager a woman. I honestly believe her seeing other women in these sporting roles has encouraged her and I no longer get “mum they won’t pass the ball, but mum did you see how well we played as a team!”
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does it mean to you?
“It is very important for women to lift each other up- supporting each other in realising our potential and success. I know I would not be where I am today without the support and inspiration of other women- from those I have known personally
(My mum, sisters, mother-in-law, and friends), those in my female networks (Network Ireland Wicklow) to those public figures who have inspired me from their shared experiences and stories.
On International Women's Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
“Growing up I was raised to believe I could do anything I put my mind too if I worked hard. My mother instilled in me that there will be barriers and we will face difficulties in life, but every problem has a solution. You need to make sure you find people who can help you find that solution. I have stood by this my whole career. Trust your instincts and always try and pursue what your inner voice tells you despite what others might impose on you. Surround yourself with people who raise you up. Identify people or networks who can share their experiences and offer you guidance and support. Reach out and ask for help- there are people always willing to help”.
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