We still have a long way to go!
As Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute commented: “Too many talented women opt out before they fulfil their potential, because business culture puts them off.” Gender bias remains entrenched in British business, which will require a radical change in culture to take account of unconscious bias that continues to see men as fitter role models. However, it is broader than this, women have lower perceptions of their capabilities and a greater level of fear of failure than men GEM study.The Ban Bossy campaign goes some way to highlight the issue of nurturing ingrained stereotyping from a young age, if a girl is assertive she is referred to as ‘bossy’ yet a boy is simply displaying leadership, this reinforces and discourages young girls from stepping up, even into adulthood.Nevertheless there is a recent growth in female entrepreneurship and this is influenced by the advancement of technology and in particular the internet. Providing a low cost and therefore a low barrier to enter into business, this has enabled women the flexibility to manage their families, and their business, creating lifestyle businesses. Women are able to avoid:
- the high cost of childcare
- inflexible working practices
- missing out on important events in the lives of their children
- the lack of funding as a barrier to start-up in business
- unfulfilled passions and careers paths
- the feeling of living someone else’s life.
Starting a business is a colossal learning experience, fraught with many challenges and probably the greatest form of personal development. Women have many essential assets which contribute to and benefit business.
Women spend over 70% of the household income and know what works best for their family lifestyle and because of this; they are the best innovators of products and services for people like them.
Women are great listeners and communicators because of this they are able to nurture their employees to be the best they can be. A great example of this is Harriet Green, CEO of Thomas Cook, who has boosted Thomas Cook’s share price by 950%, returning the business to profit. Green said she spent time listening, encouraging ideas and boosting innovation. She is a passionate communicator who is skilled at forging connections and engaging people with her vision.
We need more role models like Harriet Green to dispel the perception of women as leaders in business and to encourage more women into business. The point is to just get started, if we are to break away from the shackles of past stereotypes and improve the world.
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Janice B Gordon: The Problem Solver Business Growth Consultant, Mentor, Speaker and Author. Business Evolution – Creating Growth in a Rapidly Changing World will give you the guidance you need to evolve you and your business and exceed your customers wants and needs. Listen to Tet Kofi podcast on Colourful Radio 6th June 9am ‘The Rise of Female Entrepreneur’ http://bit.ly/1s0pXQw