Julie Drummond, Chief Executive at Drummond Central, looks back at her own career in the industry for ideas to help improve gender equality.
Two weeks ago the word feminism was not on my radar.
Seriously, the word has always made me feel like I needed to burn my bra or become a Germaine Greer look-alike.
I was perfectly happy in my own world and felt very fortunate. Yes, there were obstacles, but aren’t there obstacles for everyone in life?
The examples that Janet Hull cited in her International Women's Day blog when she raised the issue of what feminism means, highlighted serious inequality ie. survivors of the Taliban.
Those women have real issues that we can’t begin to comprehend. This humbled me. These are real issues, life threatening and life-changing situations.
We just don’t have it that bad here in the UK. And, yet, are we truly equal here? I now think not.
I was asked to do a talk to PWC on the subject of what I thought was a general business talk. However, nearer the time they told me they wanted me to talk about women in business.
This didn’t sit comfortably with me. I don’t believe in women in business, I don’t believe in men in business, I believe in people in business.
I get frustrated when there are women only events. My mantra has always been that we should get on with business, lead by example and the rest will come. But things are not changing. Yes there is lip service being paid, but not meaningful change.
It’s not the men folk’s fault. They can’t help being (in the main) middle-aged, white and from a background where men lead.
There is narcissism in all of us and we simply recruit people like us. If the very people who are recruiting are white, older males then that is exactly who they will recruit. It’s unconscious bias.
In the UK the pay gap is still 15.7% in favour of men.
In the coalition government only five are women.
Of the FTSE 250 companies eight have female CEOs and 112 of them have a single woman on their board.
This is nowhere near representative of the population, of which 52% are women. It’s just not good enough.
Do I worry about being a woman in a man’s world?
Do I worry that the perception is we are the weaker sex?
Do I worry that I went to a comprehensive school?
Do I worry that when starting a business one in four fail? If I did I wouldn’t be doing what I do now.
I worry about being the best I can be.
I worry whether I am positive and progressive enough.
I worry about what to learn and how to improve.
I worry about making my business the very best it can be.
My solution to the feminist issue?
I don’t have one right now, but I’m working on it.
Right now my only request, from all PEOPLE in business is if you see a situation where a PERSON is being disadvantaged because of their sex, please do something about it.
I have kept silent for too long. The stories I could tell you!
Maybe I should tell some of these so that we do become more aware of the inequality. One day we can find that Holy Grail and we will all be equal.
Worry about being the very best you can be. And the rest will come, but only through consciously making it happen.
Julie Drummond is Chief Executive at Drummond Central.
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Last updated 11/03/2015