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Women in Business: Getting behind the Dove Self-Esteem Programme


Maxine Benson MBESunday afternoon I ventured into London to appear on the 7:25pm Channel 4 news, in my capacity as a supporter of the Dove Self-Esteem Programme. Following the research Dove had conducted which revealed that 53% of young girls (11-17) opt out of participating in certain activities because they feel insecure about their looks, the Dove Self-Esteem Programme aims to deliver self-esteem training to teachers so that over the next year, they can deliver 1400 self –esteem workshops and reach over 90,000 children.

For us, the research backs up what we know to be an issue that holds women back in business – that lack of self-confidence can have a massive effect on women achieving their full potential and realizing their career aspirations. The study revealed that only one in three girls feel confident that they will have a successful career in the future. Shocking and sad.  The study goes on to point out the impact of this in real terms…namely that if this isn’t addressed, the UK could be deprived of 200,000 female business professionals and 42,000 successful female entrepreneurs by 2050.

I had hoped that Krishnan Guru Murthy would want to talk about the self esteem workshops, and that perhaps I would get a chance to let teachers know that if their school wanted to participate, they could sign up for the workshops at  Isn’t this something of interest to every parent of young children, isn’t this something that every school should be aware of?

Instead he wanted to know that since the media had a role to play in bombarding young girls with images of ‘success’, the beautiful, young, size 6 woman, and given that much of the media was run my women, weren’t women to blame?

I was able to point out that some women, like Lisa Buckingham the editor of the Financial Mail on Sunday, take their position of influence very seriously and make it their business to showcase stories of women succeeding in business.  And no, it’s not a case of blaming women for this sad state of play.

And then I was off, it was all over in a heartbeat.  I sat in the car going home thinking what a wasted opportunity for Channel 4 viewers to learn about something that could influence a young girl’s life.   Beating myself up, I truly felt I hadn’t been able to get this important message out before I was ushered away. So please make me feel better and let the women you know who have young daughters know about the amazing Dove Self-Esteem Programme.

Maxine Benson MBE is a co-founder of everywoman.

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