In an ideal world the only limitations to an individual’s ability to succeed would be the level of their talent, drive and character. When we look at women in the business world in 2022, the picture is improving especially in the UK and the western world. But the glass ceiling hasn’t been completely shattered. It’s easy to lose sight of this but on International Women’s Day, it’s important to remember that although we have made some strides, globally the picture is more mixed. If you live in a society steeped in antiquated patriarchal norms, female ambition is not guaranteed to have widespread support and acceptance from the get-go. In some cases, there is outright opposition and suppression of the right to strive beyond gender roles. Yet even in these circumstances we see powerful role models that succeed beyond the odds.
In the UK, many women are seeing business as a vehicle for economic freedom. It’s worth noting that a record proportion of start-ups are being founded by women, according to the latest figures from a government-commissioned review. The 2022 Rose Review found that the growth of new female-led businesses is outstripping that of male-led companies for the first time. More than 140,000 companies were set up women.The review found that despite rapid growth in female-led start-ups, progress has been hindered by the pandemic, with women entrepreneurs having more caring responsibilities than their male counterparts. Their businesses also have been less likely to recover from the fallout of the pandemic. In addition, women continue to have issues accessing investment funding and the support they need.
A report made by the International Labour Organisation ILO noted that women are more educated and active in the work force but they still lag behind men in terms of representation in managerial positions. They note that in 75% of companies across the world they have quality of diversity and inclusion policies, but these policies do not address gender imbalances in pay. In 93 countries across the world there is a pay gap between men and women even at managerial level.
The reality of the world we live compels certain actions:
We see women rise beyond expectations or circumstances to achieve inspirational goals, it’s worth noting and celebrating to encourage and inspire
Supporting with words or actions creates bonds of trust. There is a common cause that requires concerted support. The reality is supported women are stronger.
Use your voice
This is an individualised action, you can be an advocate, you can be a writer you can be a business leader, but the key thing is to share views that educate and uplift, there is still work to do for gender parity!
Be a solid peer
The importance of peer support cannot be overstated. Ask yourself how you share your struggles and triumphs. It takes strength to be able to share and be vulnerable. Having the ability to hear and share creates confidence and shared learning.
Participate in networks
Find your tribe! There are so many networks to suit different personalities, knowing that there are groups to suit all, should inspire you to search for where you can be yourself. If you don’t find one you like, set one up, but be prepared for an uneasy and uncertain road.
Be committed to growth
The growth impetus is so natural whilst we live in a changing world. The talents and skills in each of us should come to fruition, irrespective of the challenges we face. Adapting to challenges and defeating obstacles is why professional support and support networks exist so that you should never feel alone.
Happy International Women’s Day!