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Women in Business How Will You Inspire?


womeninbusinessI picked up a copy of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women last week and was delighted to see features on two of our Award winners Christine Hodgson (pictured), Executive Chairman, Capgemini UK PLC, 2011 Woman of the Year winner at the everywoman in Technology Awards and Jane Burkitt Supply Chain Director, 2010 Team of the Year Award winner at the MAN everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards.

This report is a great initiative. With fewer women at the top of organisations than men and a pay gap of 21.2 percent between men and women in the UK (I read in the Evening Standard that London is one of the worst cities - almost 23 per cent) we need as much activity as possible to highlight the situation, showcase the companies that are driving change and demonstrate the value of women in business. 

There are many benefits to having a diverse and balanced workforce - improved creativity, productivity and profitability are just a few. But in addition, one area that’s not often highlighted is competitive advantage. Christine mentioned that potential clients ask questions about diversity as they want to get a sense of Capgemini’s culture so they can see how it will fit with their organisation and serve their customers. In my view, the spotlight is shining brightly on diversity and I think it’s likely this will become the norm. Why wouldn’t it be when women are cited as the next global emerging market and they make the majority of purchasing decisions? By 2014, the World Bank estimates that the global income of women will grow by more than $5 trillion – so it makes sense not to alienate them.  Another advantage is many women look to work for organisations that will actively support their development, which means those companies are likely to have the pick of the bunch when it comes to female talent.

It is great to see so many companies working to address the balance - and at everywoman we work with many organisations that didn't get a mention in the report so these are exciting times as alot is happening. But, we also need to bear in mind that if we’re going to drive this change, girls and young women need to be aware of the opportunities available and believe they deserve, and can achieve the positions they aspire to be in. As Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook says in a TED video, women need to take their place at the table. There are many successful women with the confidence to forge successful careers but through our experience at everywoman we know that a lack of confidence is a key factor that holds many women back from achieving what they are capable of. We also know that showcasing successful female role models, like Christine and Jane, goes a long way to inspiring more women to achieve their aspirations. So I urge all women whatever level you’re at to take time think about how you can pass on a little inspiration.

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In Donna's comment she stated: "There are many successful women with the confidence to forge successful careers but through our experience at everywoman we know that a lack of confidence is a key factor that holds many women back from achieving what they are capable of." As a teacher, director, and now business owner, Executive Director, I believe that the beginning of any woman's confidence-building begins in their early years of education and family relationships. For if a young girl is not taught to bring out her best qualities and skills and feel that she is of importance in society, she will not develop her confidence and bring out her redeeming life skills and qualities. It has been discovered that all children develop their identity and basis for living by the time they are 5 years old. So if a girl child is treated with disrespect during those formative years, their confidence is going to be lacking throughout the rest of their life and it will be a challenge for them to find it and use it. 
So we need to focus on Motherhood and Fatherhood as the first step to building confidence in the girl children and help the parents to find ways to support their child's self-confidence and self-esteem from birth.  
In preschools and on up through the grade school, teachers need courses that will help them to build girl's self-esteem and learn ways to bring out their life skills with confidence in what they are doing. 
Girl Bullying needs to be curbed and the energy re-routed to building each other up and supporting each other instead of finding ways to break each other down.  
I know that as women, we have all been through these kinds of experiences and we are finally finding ways to change the experiences and improve our lives. But, it goes way back in our lives to when we were born and how we were treated by our parents and teachers that gave us the idea of who we are and why we do or don't have a good self-esteem and confidence in ourselves. 
I for one grew up in a family as the second oldest, oldest girl of 7 children. There were "expectations" put upon me because I was the oldest girl, so I grew up feeling responsible, but because my parents didn't do much to build up my self-esteem, I didn't feel that my being responsible would add up to being important. It took me many years of hard work, looking inside myself and re-evaluating my skill set and my determination to make something of myself did I realize that I had a lack of confidence in myself and my abilities. My parents and my teachers had high expectations of me, but never worked to build up my self-confidence and self-esteem to bring out the best in me. They considered me doing well if I followed the beat of their drum and followed in their footsteps, instead of making my own path with their support. 
So ladies, I know I am new to this blog and it is only the second time I have blogged. I hope you have understood that if we are to bring this challenge of building confidence in women, we need to focus on parenting skills and support teachers in building self-confidence in young girls all the way through high school. This is true all around the world. 
Thank you for reading my message.
Posted @ Friday, April 27, 2012 7:50 AM by Theresa E. Stewart
Thanks Theresa this is a great response and yes I agree we do need to start young. We have a great project called everywoman's modern which is all about inspiring young women and girls into the world of work and many of our Muses, all successful women in business from a variety of backgrounds, go into schools and showcase what can be achieved and how fulfuling a career you are passionate about can be. We're also supporting the Dove Self Esteem which is all about this too. Good luck with your future blogs and have a great weekend.  
Posted @ Friday, April 27, 2012 9:13 AM by Donna Robertson
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