Why a Women in Business White Paper changed my entire approach to business

Posting date:15 Aug 2019

We recently produced a white paper for women in business. It was produced for women, by women and as a man, it was eye-opening.

We see so much about the feminism movement, the gender pay-gap and a whole host of other relevant things that become overwhelming to keep on top of. 

As a result, us men don’t always understand the most important parts but this paper is different with an aim to simply build confidence in senior women. As a male reader, I am overcome with a feeling of responsibility that many women don’t have it.

There were two points in the paper that I couldn’t quite believe. 

The first was an anecdote by the current Group CFO of SDL, Xenia Walters. She discusses her two children and her two journeys on maternity leave earlier in her career. The first was just nine weeks long as Xenia didn’t feel able to leave her job; which in itself was upsetting, but the second maternity leave, some years later, was the full nine months.

When I first read that, I was relieved almost. This incredibly powerful, established and accomplished woman felt able to take the full time off work to care and prepare for her new child and whilst that should be a given, the first half of her interview tells me it’s not.

What followed however pushed Xenia to leave the company and start again as her role had essentially been dissolved across the business and she returned feeling helpless, unneeded and unwanted. 

I couldn’t believe an organisation could make a person feel this destitute. Especially a member of the senior management team who had given her all to the business but what I then discovered was that women, every day, are left feeling unconfident. 

A survey carried out by the team discovered that only 33% of women have confidence in their own abilities and it’s hard to hear. 

Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I am a millennial man. I have grown up in an era where women are equal to men, not inferior and not superior, and it’s unacceptable to even think anything else. 

With that in mind, my approach to business is exactly the same and I would hope any female colleague of mine feels just as confident in their abilities to function at work as I or my male peers.

This paper has reminded me that generations before me haven’t allowed women to thrive at work and this paper has taught me that I must play a bigger part in making sure any woman today, feels confident that she is having as big an impact on a business as any other.

I would love to send this paper to as many women in my network as I possibly can but it’s not just for women. I would advise any man in my network to read this paper as a way of becoming a better colleague, leader and friend. 

To download 'Having a Voice at The Table' follow the link below.