I contribute articles to a wonderful collaborative e-magazine The 3RDi and for the January issue we were invited to comment on being a businesswomen in 2014 – visit http://goo.gl/fOLbLV for a sneaky peek. The contributions are varied and interesting and all contributors reflect a sense of confidence and fulfilment, although many are women of a certain number of years in business.
Being a woman in business in 2014 is no different to being a woman in business in 2004, except that the economy is very different. There have been no strident changes in gender equality at the coal face even though the Equality Act in 2006 with amendments in 2010 should make everyone feel more confident about non-discrimination. There is still pay disparity, and insufficient female senior managers suggesting that companies are paying lip service only to the idea of equality in the workforce.
Equality may still be a long way off but today there are more women and men fighting for change. The government supports change through the Equalities Office advised by the Women’s Business Council but so far it has only been talking about it, action seems unlikely in 2014! It is encouraging that some public sector businesses and corporations are encouraged to be transparent about their employees, giving job applicants a heads up on the type of employer they are. I believe all companies from mid-sized upwards should do this.
Something more positive about being a businesswoman in 2014 is that there are so many like-minded women who are willing to support and mentor other women in business. Understanding the pressures and likely obstacles makes this invaluable to women at the start of their careers and helps direct women to make important choices. Magazines like The 3RDi enables women and men to discuss these issues and investigate ways to create better working relationships. Some of the contributors are business owners and some are business advisors, all of whom focus on improving the work environment for sustainable and successful business.
Networking and social media interactions encouragingly demonstrates the weight of feeling towards inequalities socially and at work. While we await clearer legislation to force companies to change, it is happening anyway. Our children are encouraged to study a wider range of courses, universities are trying to attract more women into engineering and heavy industry-based degrees and there are frequent press and media references to local businesses across the country who are succeeding by recognizing and rewarding talent irrespective of gender or any other discrimination.
The evidence of success will be when discrimination tribunals become a thing of the past, and more importantly on gender disparity, women and men enjoy the same workplace benefits and opportunities, and they have the potential to earn the same income.