After a very busy week of celebrating International Women’s Day, I was invited to sit on the panel with 3 amazing women at the Eveolution closing conference by the Business Growth Hub.
It has been quite a journey since starting my wearable technology business and the Business Growth Hub has been with me from the very beginning in 2014. The skills I have learnt through their workshops, the support I have gained through meeting other start up entrepreneurs as well as being mentored by my start up advisor Isabelle Farquhuar has given me the confidence and digital skills through the Eveolution programme to continue my journey as I navigate my new career as a woman in business.
The theme of the panel hosted by the lovely Nikki Dean of Treacle Events celebrated women in business and discussed how we can support a move towards parity, gender equality and gender balanced leadership.
Claire Hanby, Senior Manager in Infrastructure, Devolution & Public Sector at EY, a very male dominated industry, believed that there needed to be quotas and targets to have at least 50% women on boards in order to disrupt the traditional all male, white board members. Without this target, Claire stated that if we were to remain the way we are, gender equality would not be reached for another 117 years. That is a very sad statistic. While some believed that while there should be more women on boards, it should be based on merit rather than gender.
I completely agree with both views. I would feel offended if I was offered a position based on my gender just to fill a quota and some male dominated industries do need a shake up. I would also like to add that it should not just be about gender but also about diversity to include not only women but rather, “people” from a range of diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences. Because diverse organisations lead to more successful and innovative organisations.
— Kathryn Fox FRSA (@LGBTFox) March 11, 2016
Emma Mills leads an all female team of virtual personal assistants in Manchester at her company, MiPA. Growing her team from one to 10 in 8 years, Emma was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug through watching her father run his own business. Inspiring role models plays a big part in helping one determine what they want to be when they “grow up”. Emma made a great point that students need to be exposed to less traditional career paths and be provided with other career options such as entrepreneurship. Perhaps it’s up to us women in business to talk to students when they have career days to show them that there are other career options for them in the real world.
I wonder if that should be my #pledgemcr for this year because I recently discovered this quote by Marian Wright Edelman, “You Can’t Be What You Can’t See”. If Emma and I didn’t see our fathers run their own businesses, I wonder if we would become women in business?
Rebecca Taylor, Global Head of HR gave some insightful advice to the delegates. To ask the question “why”? because when running a business, it’s all too easy to get lost in being in the business. Stepping back and asking the question “why” helps you then ask the question of what does success mean to you? To Rebecca, the why is to teach her son what she has learnt, to make a difference and to share her experiences with other women in tech.
— Business Growth Hub (@BizGrowthHub) March 11, 2016
I couldn’t help but be inspired by my fellow panellists, the delegates’ questions and comments, and Nikki Dean who made us all feel like we were old friends. It is amazing that in just one hour, we could have easily stretched it to an afternoon of great debates, ideas, sharing experiences and learning from each other. Because that is what International Women’s Day means to me. To be inspired, to be supported by and to learn from my fellow women in business. Watch our video here.
This blog was written by Michelle Hua, Founder & CEO of MadeWithGlove, a UK wearable tech company designing fashionable heated gloves for women. Michelle is also a STEM Ambassador, public speaker and writer covering topics on wearable tech and fashion, start-ups, women in technology and women in business. in 2014, Michelle led MadeWithGlove to being in the Top 150 Most Influential Brands in Wearable Tech and is a Top 10 Finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2016.
Follow Michelle on Twitter @MadeWithGlove.