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What Can Men Do for Business Equality

What Can Men Do for Business Equality

Looking forward to talking at the PWC/Women on Boards event in Edinburgh on Tuesday 21st March. Here’s an article I did for PWC on my thoughts!

Lynne Cadenhead is one of Scotland’s ‘serial entrepreneurs’ dividing her time between multiple businesses while also trying to improve equality in the workplace. Ahead of speaking at an upcoming Women on Boards, Board Room Conversations event on March 21 in Edinburgh (tickets still available) she reveals her thoughts on how to juggle a multi-business career, what men are doing wrong and advice on being self-employed.

Gender balance makes economic sense
Despite all the talk, are we actually making progress in equality in the workplace? Why is this even an issue in 2017?

I do believe the tide is turning – but that’s because people are starting to see the evidence that gender balance is better for business. It’s not an equality argument, it’s an economic one.

Women have advanced risk awareness and that helps businesses make better informed, more sustainable decisions that are better for the bottom line in the long run. But it’s a slow change and it will take at least a generation for significant change to occur.

The school problem with STEM
A recent PwC survey showed many young Scottish women aren’t too convinced around jobs in STEM. Do we focus too hard on STEM or are we missing something fundamental?

There is a lot of evidence to show that women power radical innovation in companies, so companies looking to innovate in STEM will benefit from having balanced teams in STEM – and that will be good for an inclusive innovative economy. But it comes down to stereotypes and the problems do start early in school. Key to changing this is having more relevant role models in school, colleges and universities, companies and the media.

How do we get more males to recognise that they can be part of the problem at times?

The key consideration here is unconscious bias. I don’t believe men are deliberately causing gender issues in the workplace, they are just not aware. Drawing people’s awareness to the issue by factually pointing inequalities out and asking what they think about it will help.

Encouraging more networking at times appropriate for females is essential, as is simply being aware of the differences in bonding between males and females – men bond through insults, women through compliments!

Men don’t do enough for equality
Are males supportive enough of efforts for equality?

In short – no. Would they want this unequal working environment for their daughters or grand-daughters? It will take at least a generation to effect change – at least start making changes now that future generations will benefit from. But having said that, women can do more as well, we often don’t ask – women need to push themselves out of their comfort zone a bit and ask for more.

How can companies get to be equal – what are the steps and processes that they should be implementing? Can this be done pain-free? How can people overcome those who resist the change?

Male-female mentoring will help a lot, along with fixing the leaky pipeline by encouraging more home-working, flexible hours, role-sharing, and opportunities for women to keep their professional skills engaged whilst on career breaks raising their family.

And for those people who resist change – keep reinforcing the economic case. As Christine Lagarde of the IMF said on IWD earlier in March: “The moral case for greater gender equity is clear, and so is the economic case… As countries around the world seek to grow their economies and reduce inequality, tapping into the huge potential of women can be a game changer.”

What women entrepreneurs need to do more of
How does one become a ‘serial entrepreneur’ – what’s been the highlights of that? Also, what’s been the lowest moments and how did you get through them?

The key is to realise it is a journey, with many twists and turns, and many highs and lows, but that you learn and adapt every step of that journey. Adopting a mindset of learning from failure is critical – there is no innovation without failure.

The feeling of holding in your hand for the first time a product you have conceived and designed, manufactured and sold, getting great customer feedback, is fantastic. Lowest moments – reach out and ask for help – women are not good at that, but there are so many people willing to help when times are tough. And remember – “this too shall pass” – let it go, knuckle down, and get back in the race.

Dumping email to prioritise and getting work done
Given everything you are involved with, how do you prioritise workload and comittments?

Clear strategic goal-setting, brutal time management and a strict 80/20 rule! I keep face-to-face meetings to a minimum and do as much as I can by conference call, preferring to hold four meetings in one afternoon, rather than one.

I used to drown in emails, ping-ponging all day long, until I changed my approach and I only do them twice a day now – early morning and at the end of the day – often issues are already resolved by others, and if its anything urgent, people will call.

I am involved in a number of companies and organisations but when you look closer, they all interconnect – that way I can leverage my connections and contacts and get maximum impact. But that didn’t happen by accident, it happened by design.

Self-employment has been in the news. What advice would you give to people thinking of going down that route?

Firstly, think deeply about your motivations and drivers as to why you want to be self-employed. More money, work-life balance, being in charge of your own destiny? Give careful consideration to how you charge your services/products, ensuring you factor in all “hidden” costs to your rates e.g. pensions, office, etc. And build a supportive network around you – the road can be long, hard and lonely and you will need peer support.

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