I had the pleasure and honour of being invited to attend the Downtown in Business, Women In Business Awards 2015. It was a great event celebrating women’s success in business in Manchester, from legal advisors to the financial sector, it was great to see so many people supporting women in business.
However, the numbers are still shocking, only 16% of growth businesses are currently being led by women, compared to 49% in the USA, it’s safe to say that we’re really lagging behind the times in the UK. Furthermore, the wage gap is still prominents and there’s definitely a long way to go for gender and sexual equality in the workplace. Now, I could take this opportunity to run through the numerous encounters of sexism in the workplace that I’ve encountered, or I could even go more in depth into the statistics. However, great campaigns such as #EverydaySexism can show you the mundanities of sexism in everyday life, plus a quick Google search can show you all the statistics that you could possibly ever want to know.
Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the small changes we can make everyday to try and change traditional mindsets, to make women in business the norm.
So, the Women In Business Awards were amazing, and it was inspiring to see so many women in traditional businesses becoming industry leaders. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few things that tickled me red throughout the ceremony.
For one, the whole digital and tech sectors were ignored. As a woman with her own tech startup and heavily involved with the digital and tech community, and knowing some of the amazing women making changes to how the industry is perceived, it was a real shame that whole area of expertise was ignored. To me it seemed as though the Women In Business Awards were slightly behind the times by solely focussing on traditional business, and not embracing innovation. Maybe one to consider for the future, but it was certainly a shame not to have seen it.
Secondly, I was slightly frustrated that every winner was announced as the “beautiful”, “gorgeous”, “stunning”. These women in business have just been congratulated for making positive changes to their industries, changing the way people work and for running a successful business. Surely there could have been a better way to describe them? Maybe by letting the audience know a bit more about the business they’re running? Again, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and it was amazing to see such a celebration of women’s achievement, I just think there’s still a long way to go before there is real equality in the work place. Can you imagine a male award winner being described as “the truly dashing…” on his way to the podium to collect an award for greatest impact on Manchester? I certainly don’t think so.
I think there’s still a long way to go in making sure that women are represented equally on a public platform. And I can only hope that one day, we can see at least one BME woman winning a Women In Business Award, and eventually just having wholly inclusive Business Awards instead.
That being said, the Women In Business Awards 2015 are a great celebration of female achievement. It was inspiring to see so many people getting together to promote women’s achievements in the workplace, not to mention the understanding that, in the UK at least, this is the minority of people and definitely does need to be celebrated.