Today is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Thanks to the efforts of the suffragette movement, some women secured the right to vote on 6 February 1918. Whatever your views on gender equality today – in business and life – it is an undeniable fact that, in relative terms, much progress has been made since 1918.
The vote for women was an extraordinary turning point in our country’s history and a milestone that means a lot to us at Electoral Reform Services too. As the UK’s leading provider of election and voting services, we have been making democracy happen for decades. In the late 1980’s Electoral Reform Services spun out of The Electoral Reform Society, which was established in 1884 as an autonomous campaigning organisation with no shareholders. Today, nearly half of our employees are women.
Emmeline Pankhurst and her fellow suffragettes forced a quantum leap in securing the vote for women and today technology is driving the next steps. The ERS Group provides services that enable over 35 million people to vote in local and national elections. We process 6 million household responses every year and print millions of ballot papers. In addition, our sister company, Xpress, helps local authorities save time and money on the annual canvass with systems and tools such as the Mobile Canvasser App, which is designed to help Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) produce an accurate, complete electoral register.
We cannot vote for our politicians or important constitutional issues online in this country at the current time, but our online voting platform is helping a growing cohort of clients in other sectors to manage nominations, engage their electorate and monitor votes live.
Today is the first of a number of key dates in 2018 when we will remember the suffragettes. In December 1918, women were allowed to vote in a general election for the first time. 8.5 million women were eligible then. That number is estimated at 25 million women today.
And finally, the Suffragette’s moto was “Deeds not words”. In a world where we are surrounded by news, comment and diverging opinion on multiple platforms, from TV to social networks, at ERS we can relate to this. So, back to work and making democracy happen.
Sian Roberts – Chief Executive