Last week I attended the Institute of Directors enterprising women in business conference in Salford. Out of nearly 200 delegates, I was amongst about 10 men at the day (last year I think it was just 4 of us!), so I experienced a day from an unusual perspective.
Listening to the many female speakers I heard about their views on the challenges of being a woman in business but also the strengths and opportunities.
I go to events like this because it's a great learning place for me. My job is to empower and inspire leaders in business - both private and also charitable - so I need to keep listening to the challenges of my audience and refining our offer as a consultancy.
More importantly, around two-thirds of our clients are women in management positions or leadership roles. I heard on the day from MDs, FDs, charity leaders, artists and researchers. All of them were women who provided me with examples, quotes, observations and challenges. All of this is material I can share when coaching, training and facilitating clients and their teams.
51% of our population is female, that means any business that wants to succeed needs to consider how to keep and inspire their talent and that will include brilliant women. Any company that wants to grow needs to understand how to communicate with women intelligently (and not just making everything pink!). And yet were heard of a male Board member saying to a female who was asking questions, “Get back in your box!” On top of that, there are more men called Dave or John than women on FTSE100 Boards. How small-minded and stupid can men be?
I also get a personal challenge at such events. It makes me think about how I network, how I feel when I'm underrepresented and what I should do to welcome others when at events. The was conversations are started or finished, the body language and sounds all seemed different from my perspective. I wonder if that was just because I couldn’t see groups of men like me?
So, managers male and female, I'd encourage you to go to more of these events. It's a place to learn skills and knowledge for your work but also test your character and confidence. The stories were great last week (and a few will no doubt be shared in this blog over the next few weeks). The organisers were also so enthusiastic for others to achieve and the conversations that I had were of high quality; I'm looking forward to 2018!
If you like our blog then let us know via @enablingsuccess, firstname.lastname@example.org or 0161 2804567. The Know & Do team help leaders achieve success in their business and build great teams. We are values-based, share first and enjoy inspiring others through coaching, training, facilitation and presentations.