A little bit of positivity can make all the difference
From the outset, Funding Focus has attempted to address inequality in the world of entrepreneurship. It is a conference committed to driving positive change by first recognising where more work needs to be done. To achieve equality between men and women in business, we must understand where the obstacles facing women lie.
Yet we also recognise that in and amongst the need to focus on how we can do better, there is much room for celebrating the positives. Insights generated using Four Communications’ proprietary Mapper 360® social listening methodology suggest that the ways women in business communicate over social media are underpinned by positive messages and encouragement.
Where men speak about business and leadership using more neutral terms, women are more likely to seek out other women and direct positive or empowering language towards them. Social media has turned into a sphere for encouragement and mutual support for women in leadership, and this may stem from a recognition that focusing on the positives can streamline them into meaningful change.
Indeed, we have come very far in terms of gender equality in the business and investment worlds. For example, although women were only admitted to the trading floor of the London Stock Exchange in 1973, they now make up roughly 13% of new traders approved by the Financial Conduct Authority. This may not sound like a significant proportion, but we have to recognise how far the industry has come from a time when draconian strangleholds were placed on women’s participation in it.
Beyond the statistics, there are examples of women leading the field that should be celebrated. Yes, only five CEOs of FTSE 100 companies are women, but what they have achieved should be viewed as success against the odds. The stories of these women should be used so that we can understand how we can better facilitate success for women in the future. Take Alison Brittain, CEO of Whitbread, the group which owns brands including Costa Coffee and Premier Inn. With a wide range of experience in commercial banking, Alison has had an illustrious career. She has not been afraid to point out the hurdles that she, as a woman, has faced. She notes how male colleagues have talked over her; how she has seen gender imbalances transpire across her career; how male colleagues are so rarely asked about how they manage childcare, when she is questioned about it so often. Alison’s success comes against a backdrop of relative adversity when compared with her male counterparts. While this adversity must be addressed, we should not let our knowledge of it detract from celebrating Alison’s achievements. Her successes should be amplified rather than overshadowed by the context in which they have occurred.
People need to believe in themselves in order to achieve. If we focus only on the setbacks women face instead of the wonderful work they have done, we risk failing to inspire our next generation of female entrepreneurs. We cannot let that happen. Women themselves realise the power of positivity and encouragement in industries that have so often lacked compassion towards them. Through Funding Focus, we aim to encourage, support and inspire women towards achieving their dreams as much as we hope to drive systemic change. Our speakers and panellists all have their own success stories, and as much as we will be addressing the setbacks women face, we will be holding up those stories for all to appreciate.
Register for your free place at Funding Focus here, and join the fight for fairer funding today by helping us to support and celebrate women’s achievements across the business world.