Changing my name – what a funny old business!
Those of you who follow me will have noticed a name change. It’s not big news, of course, but it has certainly got me thinking about what women must ruminate on based on a long-standing cultural norm.
Living in today’s more individualistic, gender-aware, and gender-positive era, there’s much debate surrounding women taking their partners’ names upon marriage. As a self-proclaimed feminist that believes in gender parity, I don’t believe anyone should have to change their name, but I’m not against it either.
Many women take on the role of primary caregiver in their family, and some will argue that they’ve set that precedent by taking their partner’s name, but this simply is not true. With my family, we probably still sit in the unconventional camp.
My husband had a highly successful career, but he decided to take a prolonged paternity leave once our daughter was born. Then Covid hit, which meant that my maternity leave was even less conventional than I had already expected it to be. While the juggle is still very much real for the both of us, we’re making it work. The career I’ve forged is reflected within my family life and the roles my husband and I assume, for which I am hugely lucky and eternally grateful.
When it comes to name changes, everyone has their own reasons for deciding to change, or not change, their name. I believe that giving women the free choice to decide what name they’d like is much more progressive than being placed in a box for whatever they choose. It shouldn’t matter whether that is in keeping with or going against patriarchal norms; it is a personal choice that should work for you without worrying about gender roles.
For me, taking my husband’s name means something much more personal and profound than the patriarchal history from which the tradition originates. Joining our family together in marriage and in name felt loving and unifying; plus, with my daughter taking her Daddy’s surname, I very much wanted us all to be Haigh’s.
So, that’s what we did back in February 2020. It was a very low-key affair that was much more about being married than a wedding, something I’m incredibly thankful for. The simplest day to formally make us a family with one name full of love and gratitude.
Don’t get me wrong, we did have a ‘big do’ planned, but alas, that had to be postponed in 2019 due to my Mum being unwell, and a quick pivot was needed to ensure we were focused on what’s really important. Not long after that, our baby girl, Ivy, arrived, then Covid happened, then I was focused on Meet’s MBO, and now baby no. 2 is incoming! So, the party will happen, just sometime in the future when the timing is right.
Anyway, less of my life story… after being married, as a woman in business, I planned to keep my maiden name in work. After all, my whole career, I have been Hannah Donaldson, also known as ‘Donno’ to many, and I’m proud of my heritage and achievements to date.
So, that was the plan. Keep Donaldson in work and be Haigh in everything else – easy! Oh, I wish it was. Over the last few years, having two names has increasingly raised itself as a logistical challenge and an administrative headache. Being CEO and Director of a global business means A LOT of paperwork, and as I’ve learnt, endless explaining and sharing of our marriage certificate. I never know who I am where, have failed multiple security checks, and had bookings made in my incorrect name.
It got me thinking: why am I still using two names if it’s only causing issues?
Of course, there wasn’t a rational explanation. I’ll always be a Donaldson, but I chose to become a Haigh alongside my daughter and husband - both names I’m equally proud of. So, to put a stop to the administrative hassle and make life easier, I have decided to officially become a Haigh in all elements of my life. I am sure my EA, Nella, will be most pleased, if nothing else!