The number of women taking the lead as primary earners in our households has more than doubled in the last ten years1. Women in the UK are now setting up and running successful businesses at an astonishing rate2. More women are moving up the corporate ladder, becoming business leaders, and gaining financial independence.
We’ve come such a long way, however, with wealth comes challenges.
The relationship women have with their new roles and rising wealth can be complicated. Some of us are finding the support we need to get the balance right, but for many women, the demands, responsibilities and compromises are difficult to balance.
Even if we are happy to take the lead in providing for our family’s financial needs, we can feel conflicted about the choices we’re making. The ‘invisible labour’ of care and family demands can leave us simply too busy or exhausted to enjoy the journey we’re on. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits report showed that women are much more susceptible to serious anxiety, stress, fear and guilt about meeting the financial needs and expectations of family and society3. However, we want women to enjoy their success and lead happier, healthier, more balanced lives and we know there’s a way to achieve this.
A New Girl Tribe: Changing the Narrative
There is an expectation that successful women need to be competitive, and it’s very possible that they have needed to be to get this far. However, as we look for ways to improve the culture of our industry we need to move away from this patriarchal notion of “stepping on necks” to get ahead. It’s outdated, unpleasant and extremely limiting for our fellow women. I propose a change in tactics.
If we make an effort to support fellow women in the workplace by celebrating each other’s achievements as we navigate complex times, we can keep morale high, lift each other up and progress in business together. Positive reinforcement, supportive actions and female collaborations will only yield more success. It shouldn’t be a fight for the only female seat in the boardroom, but rather holding the door open for other women to follow in your footsteps, join you at that table, and make the room for women in business together.
Respecting personal choices, regardless of our own circumstances and views will create a better climate for debate and more future-focused conversation. We can focus on what’s important to us, together, and change the narrative from conflict to cooperation, one conversation at a time.
Fairness: Closing the Earnings Gap
It’s no wonder that women have been starting businesses as a route to securing independence, flexibility and a better work-life balance4 given the slow pace of change in the wider workplace. Exciting as it is to see women entrepreneurs succeeding, it certainly isn’t for everyone and it’s not enough to drive the broader change in working culture that we need to see.
Equal pay is an important battle that we need to keep fighting. It’s about addressing the root cause of inequality that starts in the boardroom and ripples out to wider society. We’re all tired of reading headlines about the obscene and widening pay gap in FTSE 100 companies and beyond – isn’t it time we saw more stories about the great value that diversity adds to an organisation, or how much productivity and wellness are improved for all workers when the pay gap narrows?5
Employers must step up and support women to make change from within. There is an opportunity here for companies to really differentiate themselves in terms of talent development as well as attracting and retaining women. Meeting women’s diverse needs at all levels in an organisation makes good business sense and raises the bar for everyone6.
Authenticity in the Workplace
Communication, collaboration and cooperation are vitally important when there is so much conflict between and around us. Women bring unique and varied attributes to business and leadership and we can use our talents to create positive change in the workplace and beyond.
Bringing emotional intelligence, sensitivity and skills to work is really important. They influence our behaviours and the kinds of culture we create. If we are authentic, then others can be too. A climate of mutual respect, where individuals can say it as they see it, makes for a rewarding and authentic experience for everyone and the kind of balanced ecosystem in which we all thrive.
The more we share the stories of our experience, the easier this becomes. We can change the culture of wealth and improve the quality of our own lives as we strive for a better, fairer and more sustainable future for us all. We believe that’s worth fighting for.
Let’s not forget to enjoy the journey together.
References and sources:
- Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, 2018
- For female entrepreneurs, the UK leads the way: recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit found 26% of high net worth women surveyed in the UK are business owners, which is a higher share than women, or men, in any other surveyed region. Economist Intelligence Unit and Royal Bank of Canada Global Survey.
- Workplace Benefits report, Bank of America Merril Lynch published in Forbes magazine, 2018
- Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2017 report (GEM 2017) launched July 2018.
- Since 2011, investments into companies with no female directors on their board average £2.9m, whereas adding a single female board member corresponds with a typical increase of £500,000. Aston University research
- Amanda Weinstein. Harvard Business Review. Jan. 31, 2018. “When More Women Join the Workforce, Wages Rise — Including for Men”