This week I’ve been at the CBI for work experience to learn and see what it’s like in the working world as a teenager. I’ve been investigating what it means to be a woman in business in honour of International Women’s Day (8 March) and have interviewed three successful women who discussed big factors about their career that I want to share.
This week I spoke to:
- Head of Everyone’s Business and Co-chair of the BAME network at the CBI, Katie Dash
- Director of Communications at the Goldsmiths Company, Sarah Jurado
- Group Head of Colleague Relations at Lloyds Banking Group, and Chair of the CBI North East Regional Council, Emily Cox MBE
Here is what I learnt:
Even if you’re not sure, throw yourself in
From the research I’ve gathered and the businesswomen I have spoken to, it’s clearly important for women to have confidence and believe in themselves.
It’s clear to see there are challenges. For example, setting up a business can be quite daunting. According to HM Treasury 2019’s Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship, women were 55% more likely than men to cite fear of going it alone as a primary reason for not starting a business.
Additionally, KelloggInsight states that when the appropriateness of negotiating isn’t clear, for example when discussing promotions and opportunities, gender differences do emerge.
They said: “Often, women view key assignments and promotions as a reward for doing a good job, so they wait to be rewarded instead of negotiating with supervisors for new opportunities.
“In contrast, research has demonstrated that men are comfortable seeking promotion even if they only meet some of the requirements of the new role.”
Women also lack confidence when it comes to putting themselves forward for difficult jobs. Goldsmith’s Company, Director of Communications, Sarah Jurado suggests women should, “pursue what you want to be”, with Lloyds Bank, Group Head of Colleague Relations, Emily Cox saying that women “need to have courage”. At the end of the day you want to be in a satisfied and a happy job that keeps you motivated.
Another takeaway I received from speaking to these smart women was to not be afraid. They suggested women should “be flexible” and “experiment” at a young age. You may think that staying in a job for a while, that doesn’t give you happiness will be alright, if you just need the money. But after a time you will start questioning if you are satisfied or whether there is more you can do. By making a tiny adjustment, you can come a long way.
Sarah Jurado added: “I went door knocking to all the departments in University [and asked] if they needed someone to work for them in [Public Affairs]. They first said no, but a week later, they said yes.” Her determination made me think, if you want something then you need to be eager to get it.
You will face challenges and setbacks along the way
Women are still facing challenges whilst changing for the better.
For example, when I was with Katie Dash, she said her biggest fuss was earlier in her career, “turning up to interviews, being the youngest one and the only woman in the meeting.”
This astonished me, I thought by now everyone was equal, as in school you aren’t really taught much about the workplace and how it’s going to be. I have been in a mixed school for nearly four years. I would have thought that by now, the perspective would be the same from education to the workplace, displaying to me that history is repeating itself.
One shining moment was when I was interviewing Emily Cox and she highlighted the level of support she received when she was pregnant. Her colleagues treated her the same way, both before and after maternity leave. The way she was treated in this situation makes me hopeful and pleased there are good people out there. Another theme that emerged is that people can be more open with you as a woman. “People can be a bit more vulnerable when you are a woman,” said Sarah Jurado, who uses body language to discover what is upsetting someone.
Overall, it’s been helpful to know what it is like in business and speaking with the propositions and marketing teams, what they do, and seeing what it’s like to work in an office with a cool team with Max, Jas, James, Beth and Lizzie. Everyone at the CBI has been friendly, plus interviewing businesswomen from the finance market to a jewellery/journalism company, has driven me to write this article and what it’s like to be a woman in a business. Work isn’t only sitting down in an office to do work, but being happy and satisfied, maybe making a change for the better, having a go at something that may seem too difficult. But most important of all, let’s see more women joining businesses. CAUSE WE CAN DO IT!