Last week, Mason Alexander hosted their third ‘Women Who Mean Business’ event.
This network was first formed in March 2018 to celebrate International Women’s Day and since then we have had excellent speakers from all different industries including actress Amy Huberman, Minister Josepha Madigan, TD and CEO of Vodafone Anne O’Leary. We are very lucky to have had Sports Broadcaster Jacqui Hurley MC every event we have had and last night no different! With another impressive panel consisting of Linda Kiely co-founder and Director of Voxpro, Caroline Keeling, CEO of Keelings and Nicola Vavasour, CEO of Scotiabank Ireland, some interesting topics were covered.
In my position as a recruiter, I am lucky to speak to many different men and women every day discussing career choices and what their vision of success looks like. Success, of course, means very different things to different people. For the purposes of your career, whether you are male or female, generally people want to feel some sort of connection and satisfaction to the work they do and get a good salary for it. Further, people want to feel valued in the business they are in.
As women, we are faced with the same issues as we always have been ; having children and what that ultimately can mean for your career. Childcare costs and how women can be seen as a riskier investment than their male counterparts tie in with this fact. What can businesses do? Particularly small businesses?
The more talks and events I attend, the more clear it becomes; employers should trust their employees and know that loyal and hard working people who are given the support they need, will give that back to the business in spades. As such, a woman who chooses to procreate and is in a business that supports her, that business will see that appreciation and respect come back to them. It’s all about changing the perspective and realising how potentially losing a brilliant asset to your business could be extremely detrimental in the long term. Last night, Linda Kiely reflected that in her long career, not much has changed in that respect but I hope that the more we gather together to discuss these topics, the more likely incremental change can occur so that women with children are not overlooked.
Another popular topic amongst women in business is the “imposter syndrome” or lack of self-belief and confidence when it comes to going after what they want. The statistic that a women will only apply for a job if she hits 105% of the requirements and a man will go for it if he hits 60% is a fair generalisation. Why are women more inclined to put themselves out there only if they are sure they will succeed and men are more likely to take the “shot in the dark”?
Who knows. Maybe it comes down to our our genetic make up or our ancestors and centuries of hard wiring, but all I know is that in the world of commerce, no one really knows exactly what they are doing. There is always an element of risk and “saying yes and figuring out what to do after”. The only difference between people at the bottom from people at the top seems to be hard work, confidence and opportunity. During our panel discussion, Caroline Keeling advised that instead of always trying to fix your weaknesses, focus on improving your strengths. No one employee ‘has it all’, it’s more about playing on what you are good at.
Likewise, Nicola reflecting on her impressive career, said that we have to accept that we all make mistakes, and we will make many more – don’t dwell on them, learn from them and move on.
Above all, on examining their career journeys the women of the panel all agreed on the same final piece of advice; enjoy it!
Life is for living and whether it’s in business or in your personal life, why shouldn’t you always go after exactly what you want? Everything will always carry a bit of risk and uncertainly, but you will never know how far you can go unless you try and if all else fails, as Linda says “if you don’t have the cash, always bring the flash”!
Thank you to all our speakers and to all the amazing women and men who have supported us in this event series to date. To the MA team and founder of “Women Who Mean Business” Jenny Kinmonth, I look forward to many more.