‘Women in business’ has most definitely been a trending topic in 2014 and we have recently seen involvement from the likes of Kelly Hoppen, Dragons’ Den investor and business guru, in Export Week and a whole day dedicated to womenpreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The question of gender in business has been on-going for decades and despite the rise of feminist movements defending women’s rights to equality, there are still many witnesses of real-life inequalities between men and women in business.
At a time when Germany’s biggest companies have been ordered to ensure that 30% of supervisory board positions are held by women from 2016, a recent report in the UK claims that the difference between men and women’s pays means “women work for free an extra three days a year“, reaching a total of 57 days in 2014. “Women currently earn, on average, £2.53 less per hour than men do. That equates to 80p for every £1 a man is paid”, the report goes on to explain – yet another number increasing year on year.
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?
Though often overlooked, the inequalities between men and women in business are a harsh reality for many, encouraging many an organisation to take the lead in making change happen. Focusing on women entrepreneurs, the team behind Global Entrepreneurship Week supported the cause by dedicating a day to women last Wednesday November 19th.
“Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) is a crucially important initiative for women, and for the entrepreneurship movement more widely”, explains GEW. WED was celebrated this year in 144 countries across the globe as an important initiative at a time when there are almost 3.6 billion women in the world, yet the World Economic Forum reports that no nation has achieved meaningful gender equality. Even in the UK women are chronically underrepresented in many sectors of business and the boardroom. They are also less likely to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career choice.
Depending on where they live, women only have access to 58-70% of the economic, educational, health and political resources and opportunities available to men. This is unacceptable when research shows that a reduction in barriers to female labour force participation would increase the size of America’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 9%, the Euro Zone’s by 13% and Japan’s by 16%.”
When we asked Sage One customers how they felt being women entrepreneurs, business founder Jules Quinn from design-led tea company The *TeaShed agreed that there definitely needs to be more done to raise awareness of gender inequality.
“Not just here in the UK, but across the world. It is a real concern that women are under-represented in the workplace and, most alarmingly, that there are countries where women can’t even get an education, let alone get a job or start their own business. I feel fortunate to live in a country where I am able to run my own business and have, so far, not to my knowledge been discriminated against for being a woman.”
“That being said, more still needs to be done in the UK to show women that they can achieve the same success as men. At the same time, we must also show that men are able to flourish in jobs that largely have only been held by women. In order to gain equality, all barriers must be broken for everyone. Inspiring women into business can only be a good thing and initiatives that help change the perception of women within the workplace should be celebrated and supported.”
However, it’s interesting to see how opinions vary as Teanne Andrews from experiential marketing company We Are Parable explains that being a female co-founder of a business actually means her opinions and morals are actually more valued. “I feel I have an equal position alongside my husband Anthony within the business and we each bring different skills, knowledge and thinking that contribute to the growth of our business.”
Whatever their personal experience, our ‘Sage One stars‘ agreed that promoting women in business is a must. The British homewear designer Lorna Syson said being a woman in business is a very positive thing.
“I am really lucky to have grown up surrounded by strong and successful women and feel that I can help build upon the paths carved out by women before me to create equality in the work place,” she explains. “I think we should raise the awareness of women in business to give positive role models and help empower women have the confidence to do what they want to.”
What do you think?
Are you a woman in business? Do you find being a woman hinders your business opportunities? Do you find it helps you out? Let us know in the comments below or bring the conversation to Twitter by Tweeting us @SageUK – we look forward to hearing your thoughts.