Part 1: Women in Leadership Roundtables -In Partnership with IoD, HSBC & Microsoft

part 1 round table

Technological and time challenges facing today’s businesswomen and why we should celebrate our successful juggling

Forward Ladies is working in partnership with HSBC, Microsoft and the Institute of Directors to deliver a national series of Women in Leadership and Business Roundtables. On 15 May 2015 the Roundtable moved to Sheffield Business Park and 17 business women from the professional and commercial sectors gathered to discuss the challenges they currently face in business, how technology can assist and strategies to improve diversity within business. It was no surprise a lively, challenging and engaging debate emerged.

On challenges facing women in business and leadership …

Within a discussion on equal pay a consensus emerged that, generally, males and females approach salary negotiations differently. There was general agreement that males entered negotiations more confidently and with a sense of entitlement, whereas women were often less comfortable with seeking improved financial packages.

One woman commented that she had a natural tendency to undervalue her services and “talk herself down” on price. Some women at the Roundtable saw a connection between low self-esteem and poor outcomes at salary and contract negotiations.

The challenge between balancing home and work life was discussed and general agreement emerged that the public sector had the edge over the private sector, in terms of observing home/work boundaries.

Top tips on use of technology …

The benefits of mobile technology which allowed one to “always be at work” were pitted against the downside of “never being away from work”. An interesting point which emerged is that perhaps we should not seek to disguise the fact that we are successfully juggling our work and home commitments. Why pretend that we are sat at a desk emailing when in fact we’re cooking the children’s tea? Are we doing anyone a favour by “covering up”? A number of women at the Roundtable felt it was our duty to celebrate and highlight the fact that we are managing to work well and efficiently whilst also maintaining contact and presence within our family structure. If we don’t talk about how we manage to pull this off, are we putting other women under pressure to keep up the pretence that work life takes place primarily behind a desk?

  1. Make the most of your smart phones. A solicitor at the meeting explained how she could deal with emails and dictate letters from her smart phone and that this had transformed her work/home balance from what it had been 15 years previously.
  2. A single digital calendar for work and family. An accountant operated a shared digital calendar with her family, so they knew what work commitments she had, whilst she could keep track of school and family engagements all in one place.
  3. Make the most of social media. One of the most striking observations was from an online retailer who was an advocate of social media assisting women in business. She made the powerful point that in her view women had mastered and adapted social media in a way most men had not. The conversational and social elements of the platform complimented beautifully the way women interact and engage offline and had become a powerhouse for her business.

Conclusions and top take aways …

  • Women should lead by example and not be afraid to be open about how they were managing to juggle home and work commitments. Strong female role models who can do this should assist in bringing about cultural change in the workplace (and realising that “the workplace” stretches beyond the office).
  • Organisations such as Forward Ladies, HSBC, Microsoft and the IoD which all offer tailored support for women in business, should ensure the help and training they offer is fully-publicised and easily accessed.
  • Participation by women in non-executive boards should improve their self-confidence and self-worth and grow their transferable skill sets – in turn this should boost self-confidence of women in the workplace.
  • Greater gender diversity in the workplace, along with an openess about how business can be done succesfully, should drive a change in workplace culture.

To find out more about how Forward Ladies can help you get the most out of technology particularly using Microsoft Office Products, then click here.