Is the climb up the career ladder easier today for women?
PUBLISHED: 15:00 09 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:37 20 February 2013
Is the climb up the career ladder easier today for women? Yorkshire business leaders share their views
The face of modern business is changing. No longer the sole preserve of middle-aged men, its now taking on more feminine features.
According to government statistics, 30 per cent of business owners are now women, with the most active entrepreneurs in the 35-44 age range.
But there is still a way to go. Men are still twice as likely to start a business and the UK still has a relatively low level of female entrepreneurship compared with the rest of the world.
So, is it too early to start talking about gender balance in business?
Di Burton, managing director of Cicada Communications in Harrogate, believes more women means better business: Gender balance isnt an equality issue for companies any more, but a pure business issue. Its been proven that companies with gender balanced boards achieve 42 per cent higher return on sales, 66 per cent higher return on invested capital and 53 per cent higher return on equity.
But boards today are still very much a male domain, so its vital that women bring a different dimension to the table. Women are better at managing sensitive issues, controlling risk and corporate governance. All these add value to an organisations effectiveness and performance.
When Barnsley-based PR and media training consultant Kate Betts started her own business, Capital B Media, she admits she was scared by the idea of working alongside a phalanx of men in suits and felt daunted by business meetings.
Her attitude soon changed though: If youre confident and good at what you do, youll succeed. And women are succeeding in business more and more, meaning more female role models, which is great as it encourages more women to enter business.
Claire Brook, head of planning at Dickinson Dees in Leeds, believes there are in fact valuable advantages to being a woman in business.
Doing business is all about creating working relationships and women are as well equipped as men to do that, she said. I believe women can and should play to their strengths. Its not a mans world and women shouldnt feel the need to emulate men in order to succeed.
More businesses need to adapt and be a bit more creative though in order to take full advantage of the pool of women who need to work more flexibly for a period of their life. Otherwise theres a danger that employers will lose out on securing the best talent for a particular job.
So, when will women know when theyve made it to the top of the business ladder? Kate Betts has a very pithy answer: The day that more women set up engineering firms than make cupcakes, we will really have got there.