Today, 8th March 2019, we are recognising women globally for their social, economic, cultural and political achievements; there is much to celebrate.
According to a PWC survey women have become more ambitious than ever – 82% are confident they’ll reach their career goals and 77% think they make a good leader… and when women negotiate their pay rises and promotions, they often succeed. Figures from the CBI employment trends survey show 93% of businesses are taking action to close the gender pay gap and increase diversity in their workforce. Companies increasingly appear to recognise the business case for building a diverse, flexible workforce and say it helps attract and retain staff and increase skills in the workforce.
There is still plenty of room for improvement, but we’ve come a long way as women since I started my business 39 years ago. In those days I was just about the only woman in business at the Chamber of Commerce meetings. I must say I experienced nothing but kindness, advice and support from many of those business leader at the time. People like the late Michael Brinton who encouraged me in those early days for which I’ll be forever grateful.
Of course there were difficulties too – convincing a bank … any bank that this mere woman was a viable proposition to support in those days was not easy! As I went from one banking establishment to another I experienced much shaking of the heads through strained smiles and lots of tutting – until one enlightened bank manager understood my vision and business plan and decided to back me.
Just a couple of years after starting my business my daughter arrived. I was naive but determined I could do everything, the M&S book of babies explained that she would only need feeding every 4 hours – simple! Errr… No – I soon decided to move out of my office and work from home and work out a support system to enable me to carry on working! I found a young lady, Diane, who still works for Hewett’s today!
Like many women today, having children and working isn’t easy. Maternity leave hadn’t really kicked off then, I worked through all my pregnancy and had no real time off… tricky when my parents were living on the other side of the globe at the time.
Working from home was 24/7 - my clients soon realised I was available all hours and took full advantage.
I’ve always loved my job. We have a choice which route to take and there is so much choice for women today. Situations and challenges happen. But it’s how we respond, seize opportunities and deal with difficulties as they present themselves that really matters. Visualising success really worked for me, it’s a technique Steven Covey talks about in his ‘7 Habits of highly successful people’. I am guilty of playing this audio to my son when he was a student whilst he was snoozing in bed until lunchtime – hoping that some kind of subliminal message would sink in!
I don’t think I can attribute his success entirely to this recording but I was triumphant when it turned up on his reading list at university!
Today I have a successful business and a great team of specialist consultants. My daughter Laura has joined the business after her own successful career and along with Ben Mannion, they now run the business day-to-day with my guidance and mentoring.
If I was advising young women starting out today in business, I would say believe in yourself, visualise success and work hard to reach your goals. Keep learning and educate yourself as you go, find a support system that works for you. Be happy, enjoy the challenge…. and be kind to people along the way is a good start… the opportunities are out there for the taking!
Published in Worcester News, 08/03/19