Women in Business – Creating Future Stars

I’ve always wanted to be involved in business, but have been thinking a lot lately though about young girls just starting out in their careers, and thinking about what’s out there to encourage them to succeed? I worry that for many young girls entering the workplace, their world is not as career-minded as it might be, and as a result they risk not achieving their maximum potential.

It’s often quoted in the press that the average young woman’s role model these days is more likely to be Cheryl Cole or Katie Price, rather than a successful woman in business, political figure, or teacher, etc.

This can be dangerous, as it can lead to false expectations, lack of career planning and time spent dreaming of that yacht rather than working out how to afford to pay for it…

As a woman in business who’s had great support from fantastic mentors, colleagues and family members over the years, I want to try and support the next generation coming through…there’s a sense of responsibility there.

I believe there are several practical ways that we can start to change the obsession with celebrity role models and give young girls successful businesswomen to look up to:

Offer to speak at your old school
Talk about your route to success, career options and training required to succeed in certain areas. A staggering 39 per cent of 16-19 year olds from state schools say they don’t know anyone in a career they would like to work in. Reviews of school careers advice showed that young people wished the traditional careers services would be augmented by alumni based careers services – we can make a difference here.

Provide support to female colleagues
How many times has it been assumed that as a successful woman in business, you are a “ball breaker” or prefer to be “one of the boys.” I personally have no desire to be one of the boys, and have benefited from support and guidance from female and male bosses alike. I certainly hope that my female colleagues would find me supportive (whilst of course not positively discriminating against men!)

Ensure our children are given the opportunities to succeed
It’s important our children are given the chance to make informed choices about their futures. As a mother of two girls it is my sincerest wish that they succeed – whatever that means – both in life skills and in secure futures. There is no doubt that a good education will give them more choices in life.

When I compare my life to those of my mother and grandmother, I’ve had so many more choices and done so many more different things. This is undoubtedly due primarily to a good education, but also because of changes in the world of work and attitudes to women. More pressure to be financially independent and the guilt of having to share the care of my children are prices I believe well worth paying to have a rewarding career and life. Women these days do have a choice and I’m keen to help young women grab opportunities with both hands.

Why not offer to mentor young women in business?
Often it’s the advice you get from an independent person about a situation that helps you to consider things more fully and plan for the longer term. How many of us are where we are today only as a result of some key people helping to support our learning, and having role models which kept us going when the going got tough?

I know this is true for me, and I’ve also seen it of many women we’ve worked with through Pitman Training. Sometimes what we all need is a friendly face, or person at the other end of the phone who we can rely on to ask those questions that are keeping us awake at night.