I take it back, I'm going to start using #womeninbusiness again
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Today is Women in Business Day. And..wow, am I proud to be a woman in business. But I wasn't always so sure. I have gone full circle on how I feel about celebrating days like this and using things like #womeninbusiness. There’s a scene in Fleabag where a successful business woman wins a ‘woman in business’ lifetime achievement award (or something) and when Fleabag congratulates her, she replies “meh, it’s like sitting on the children’s table at a wedding” & from then on I decided I agreed with her. "Down with pointing out our gender, we’re running alongside the business men now!" Plus, I'm the mum to a little boy and with suicide being such a big killer of men I wondered, were we focusing on the wrong things when it came to gender? Until... I thought about it some more…the fact there are more CEOs called John than there are women, the gender pay gap, the news womens' careers were more affected by Covid, the evidence that we very much were not running alongside men was and is really rather overwhelming. It’s thinking that seems especially relevant with the passing of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She died this week and in her lifetime she advocated for things like
-the right to sign a mortgage without a man
– the right to have a bank account without a male co-signer
– the right for women to be pregnant AND work.
IN HER LIFETIME - that means those rights didn’t exist until pretty recently (yes, it was the US but here in the UK women were only able to apply for a loan or credit on their own in 1980, rape in marriage was only made a crime in 1994). If all that discrimination was deemed ok until pretty recently, imagine all the gender bias still engrained in our culture that we might not even be aware of? Bias held not just by men but that we as women have about ourselves and what we are capable of. Bias that means women are overlooked for jobs they'd smash. Bias that prevents men from enjoying some of the things we as women do have access to- more time with kids, better support to name just two examples. When we rid ourselves of it there will be more successful businesses run by women and men. We all have so much to gain from gender equality in business. But we won't get that equality without women sharing their success, their good news and the fact that it is hard sometimes.
There’s a business community now which realises trying to do business as it’s been done for decades just isn’t going to work anymore. Until recently women gained equality in business by taking on male characteristics but as we move on and embrace characteristics typically seen as 'feminine' and 'not for the board room' we see women creating wealth and success. As Caitlin Moran says "Feminism is belief in equality, so just as women can be freed of their presumptions, men can free themselves from theirs. That I must be buff and fit; that I can't talk about my emotions; that mummies are loved more than daddies."
There’s no need to have a ‘work’ persona and a ‘home’ persona (an exhausting strategy). You can have kids and run a successful business while your partner does the same. You can talk about strategy and wear clothes you actually like because your appearance doesn’t affect your intelligence. You can pick the kids up from school and still be a great leader. You can ask for help when you don’t know something and other people in business will respond, you can also ask them how they keep their house clean. It sounds good doesn’t it? It’s happening! And a lot of it is thanks to some awesome women in business. If you’d like to hire more women to work with you, read this ‘Linked In Gender Insights Report’, if you’d like to keep great women working with you, ask them what would improve their working life and look at ‘Mother Pukka Flex Appeal’ I hope we reach a point where #womeninbusiness isn't needed because we are all at the top table but until then I'll be hashtagging away.
Happy #WomenInBusiness Day.