Women-in-business

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Helen Mirren: ‘Women Are Still Toddlers In This Modern World’

Helen Mirren has never been one to shy away from controversy, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she has a remarkably strong opinion on feminism and women’s individuality.

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Speaking to the Daily Mail’s You Magazine, the actress said: “Women are still toddlers in this modern world, trying to find their position in the age of sexual liberation, birth control, education and financial independence.

“We’re still finding our path. And yes, we’re making a lot of mistakes along the way.”

Interestingly, one of the mistakes she referred to was allowing men to sling their arm around our shoulders, which, up until now, was predominantly viewed as an act of affection. “It annoys me when I see men with an arm slung round their girlfriend’s shoulders. It’s like ownership. Of course, when you’re young, you want the guy to take your hand and look after you.

“But when I see girls being leaned on, I want to say, ‘Tell him to get his damned arm off your shoulder.’”

This, she said, was a characteristic of our age, wherein women presumably still look to their male partner as the protector and/or the bread winner. Arguably, it’s clear that we’ve made positive progress towards closing the gap between genders over the last decade, however Mirrin makes a fair point in saying that we’re still navigating our way, because we are.

Only in recent years has the feminist movement really started to catch on and quite frankly, it’s only as people keep publicly addressing the issue that we’re reminded to have a voice and take action. Sadly, complacency can be far more appealing than conflict.

So what’s a girl to do? “At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words “f*** off” much more frequently,” said the actress. She also insisted in the interview that we need to take responsibility for what emerges from the film industry and magazines.

Referring to breaking out of traditional female roles like the housewife, girlfriend or victim, Mirren advised: “When women complain about the paucity of roles for older women, I say put your energies into changing the way we view each other in real life – then the rest will follow.”

Image via Mirror.co.uk

Business Ethics: Why Can’t People Keep Their Word?

One of the joys of being in your 40s is a new-found confidence, self-assurance and a no-bullshit attitude. You know who you are; you no longer waste time on people in either your private or your work life who don’t keep their word.

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I’m talking about integrity: it’s such a small word, but one with enormous impact. Why is it so hard for some people to keep their word and act with decency and honesty in their business dealings? We all know the type: ruthless, unscrupulous people who rip you off at every opportunity, who owe money all over town. For them, business ethics are non-existent. Thank God for a beautiful thing called karma, I say!

Corporate etiquette expert Jodie Bache-McLean (pictured), the much-respected director of both June Dally-Watkins (JDW) and Dallys Model Management, says the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles is a highly admirable life skill that’s sometimes underrated in the business world.

careers, career advice, business etiquette
“Ethics in business is extremely important; unethical behaviour or a lack of corporate social responsibility can damage a firm’s reputation,” Jodie says. “Ethics influence and contribute to employee commitment, customer satisfaction and reputation and image. And ethics are also about an individual’s moral judgement about right and wrong, so the decision to behave ethically is a moral one.

“If you keep your word, you do what you have promised to do. When our words do not match our actions, we lose a measure of healthy ownership and control over our lives.

“Essentially, this is what is called a soft skill. However, sometimes it’s the least-considered skill which is so paramount in what constitutes an effective manager or leader. Human or people skills refer to the core of ethics, treat others as you would be treated: with respect, honesty and trust.”

A lack of business ethics can be simply due to a person’s need to “save face,” Jodie says. “It is sometimes easier to lie than say no, or admit fault,” she says. “At times, we all want to avoid confrontation. The saying ‘a little white lie’ comes to mind – it is far easier to tell a little lie than to hurt someone’s feelings or cover up a mistake that you have created.”

careers, career advice, business etiquette

So, can business ethics be taught, or are some business executives lost causes?

“First, you need to find your own moral compass, the way we behave is directly related to our learned behaviour. There is a saying: ‘you cannot give what you do not have,'” Jodie says.

“Teaching ethics is not like teaching finance or accounting procedures; it is about developing moral principles which define right and wrong from a universal point of view.

“But with all teaching, you need to lead by example. Many companies and business executives fall short on ethics in business and it becomes more about: ‘Do what I say, not what I do’. What they fail to recognise, is that showing business ethics is a strength, not a weakness.”

Images via corporatecomplianceinsights.com, youqueen.com

Inspirational Women: Jillian Broadbent

Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

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Name and role:

Jillian Broadbent and Chair of Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Chair of Swiss Re Life & Health Australia Limited, director of Woolworths Ltd and Chancellor of Wollongong University.

Tell us about your role?  What is it?  What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

After 25 years working in banking and finance I moved from an executive role to take up a number of non-executive directorships. I have served in this capacity on publically listed company boards, government corporations and in the not for profit sector. As a non-executive director I participate on the boards of organisations overseeing the strategy, governance and management of them.

Your professional career has been quite diverse, how has it developed and evolved over the years?

I have been lucky to have opportunities to work in a wide range of fields. After graduating my first professional job was as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Most of my banking career was with Bankers Trust/BT Australia, which grew from 60 to 4000 employees over my 22 years there. At BT, I built a number of different departments, which was both satisfying and rewarding. Through the wide-ranging contacts I had with industry clients in building this banking business, many opportunities arose. These involved requests to apply my financial skills in the not for profit sector in particular, at the Art Gallery of NSW, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Through my participation in these diverse activities my career developed and evolved to span positions in the public and the private sector.

When did you know this is what you wanted to do as a career?

I never really knew what I wanted to do as a career, I just responded to the opportunities with diligence, enthusiasm and capacity.

What where the stumbling blocks when you first started on your career path and how did you overcome these?

There were always stumbling blocks starting with self-doubt, exacerbated by a male dominated sector and culture. The first step to overcoming stumbling blocks is to deal with the internally generated ones, building your confidence, observing success and the learnings it carries and not wasting any of your precious energy on blame and ill will.

Did/do you have a mentor?

I did not have a mentor but I did observe successful people whom I liked and admired their approach and effectiveness. This helped me develop my own sense of self and confidence.

You have been honoured for your hard work with many accolades to your name – what to you feel has been your biggest achievement?

I feel satisfied by a number of achievements:

–  Building a successful business at BT and a positive culture, where people were enthusiastic to come to work each day, the business was profitable and the clients we serviced were appreciative and supportive;

–  Serving on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia for three terms which was beyond the term of most RBA Board members and acting to improve the wellbeing of all Australians, was a great honour; and

–  Chairing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation through a change of government and keeping the corporation on track and enthusiastic despite the current government’s policy to abolish the CEFC.

Your success has paved the way for many women in business.  How have things changed for women since you began?

Many things have changed over the nearly 50 years of my career. There are more women in business, though still not enough.  Childcare choices have expanded, and the attitude from partners and fellow workers is more supportive or at least benign.

What are you goals for the future?

After 50 years in a working career, I am not focused on goals for the future but I would like to continue to use my private sector skills to facilitate public policy outcomes as I have done at the CEFC and the RBA.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

Advice: Work on your inner stability, develop a bit of teflon coating, not being super sensitive to criticism or insensitive comments from male colleagues.  Do your homework and be prepared as it will improve your effectiveness and help your confidence and sense of belonging.

Why Women Stop Climbing The Corporate Ladder

Who the run the world? Girls! Who’s turned off by becoming a boss? Girls! A new study has revealed why women are less inclined to make it to the top and surprisingly, it’s not for the reasons that you’d expect.

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Sacrifice

Unlike men, the study conducted by Bain Capital found that women preferred work/life balance and lost interest in climbing the corporate ladder after only two years due to the sacrifice. Apparently having to be on call 24 hours a day and networking on the golf course to secure a big deal wasn’t that appealing, reported the Daily Mail.

What’s more, pulling an all-nighter and socialising your way to an account was where the majority of corporate recognition came from. According to the study: “If corporate recognition and rewards focus on those behaviours, women feel less able, let alone motivated to try, to make it to the top.”

Sleep and health, or work and work? Hmm… What entices you more?

Confidence

Interestingly, after two years in a job, research indicated that women’s confidence fell by up to 60 per cent as opposed to men whose confidence only dropped by 10 per cent. A similar statistic emerged when the participants were asked if they thought they had what it takes to become the director – 27 per cent of the ladies said yes, however over a two year span it decreased to only 13 per cent.

Again, this could come down to the fact that women actually wanted a life outside of their job – and becoming director, well, let’s face it, would mean no life.  

Demoralising

Telling “war stories” and sacrificing everything to close a sale was found to be “demoralising” to women. While men were seemingly happy to do whatever it took, whenever it took, women had more of a conscious. One women was quoted in the study as saying: “I just kept sinking lower in my chair and thinking that I would never be able to make it to the senior ranks if this was what it took.”

The two-year itch

While the study of 1000 participants found that both sexes initially had the same aspiration to advance upon starting a new job, this dropped for women dramatically over two years. Among new employees, 43 per cent of females and 34 per cent of males said they wanted to be the boss, however this decreased to 16 per cent for women over a two year period while men stayed the same.

According to the findings, some women said they weren’t “cut out” for top management and others were told that they didn’t “really want it.” It seems the expectations that come with being the top dog just aren’t realistic for women. In all fairness, perhaps they’re just not realistic in general.

Female Tradies’ Success Inspires Others

Two Brisbane tradies are helping to dispel gender-bias and industry stereotypes after launching both a successful renovation business and a women’s workwear clothing label.

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Instead of being deterred by the very small number of fellow Australian women working in the construction industry, apprentice carpenter Juanita Mottram, 34, and builder/carpenter Laura Madden, 32, (pictured below) are building their own empire (erm, literally).

As part of the only one per cent of Australian women working in construction, the long-time friends take great pride in encouraging other women to take up trades. Starting their renovation company in 2010, Eve Renovations, Juanita and Laura capitalised on a gap in the market, launching a solely female workforce and providing a much-needed supportive hub for women wanting to learn a trade.

female tradies, women in construction, women in business

Now in its fifth year of business, Eve Renovations specialises in both domestic and commercial projects. “We want to show women that they can achieve anything, and provide a pathway for female apprentices to get a start in the construction industry,” Laura says.

“It’s something that we are passionate about; we receive so many requests from young girls wanting to do work experience with us, or asking us the best way to get into a trade, so it’s really important for us to open that dialogue and put trades on the radar for women choosing a career, or considering a change.”

Not content there, in 2012, Juanita and Laura were also inspired to launch their own line of women’s clothing, Eve Workwear, after being unable to find fashionable and functional work gear.

What started off as a hobby has now developed into a full-time design, manufacturing and distribution business, with the brand enjoying a 200 per cent growth in combined retail and online sales since July last year.

Now, the pair is hoping their new collection, No. 26, launching in February, will further revolutionise the workwear market by providing stylish and durable women’s clothing which increases wearers’ comfort and confidence.

“We were sick of not being able to buy work wear that fitted properly and looked good, so we made the decision to launch a label that is designed and tested by women for women and the feedback has been phenomenal,” Juanita says.

“Our new collection No. 26 has street edge, practically and versatility not available in industry clothing. It has been influenced by the raw toughness of vintage workwear, but still encompasses a feminine and fashionable look. You will find it in fashion, not tradie magazines!

“Through both our construction and workwear businesses we want to break the stereotypes and start a conversation that changes the face of the industry.”

female tradies, women in construction, women in business

Interestingly, the pair quashes the notion that lady tradies have to overcome huge obstacles and/or that sexism is rampant in the industry.

“We really can’t speak for all women out there, as any obstacles we have come across we have overcome,” Juanita says. “Obviously, one of the hardest things is to get a break with your apprenticeship, but that’s irrelevant of gender I think. It’s a lot of hard work! But the rewards far out way the sacrifices along the way.

“Over the past few years we have seen an increase of positive stories in the media about women in male-dominated industries. It is a long and persistent journey to a point where hopefully one day women aren’t even looked at twice when they turn up to site and throw on their tool belt – it’s just an everyday occurrence. For this to happen, women need to support each other’s journey and be positive role models for the next generation.”

While both tradies are heavily involved in the two businesses, Laura manages the renovations side and Juanita manages and designs the clothing. “Sometimes, it feels like we have multiple personalities!” Juanita says. “Laura obviously has input into every design and has to test every sample made out on site.

“We hear amazing stories of women working in diverse roles where they want the durability and safety of clothing, but also versatile, feminine and desirable workwear.

“We’ve heard from all the usual trades – electricians; painters; carpenters; plumbers; mining workers and landscapers – and other roles which require the same purpose-built clothing, such as make-up artists; artists; theatre producers; farmers; retail assistants; baristas and the list goes on.”

How To Style Timberland Boots

And, when asked about what the biggest societal misconception there is about female tradies, Juanita is typically both passionate and level-headed. “The biggest misconception is that you have to be a certain type of lady to do a trade,” she says.

“Take gender out of the equation – it takes a special type of someone to do many different types of jobs/roles. It [trades] just actually needs to be an option for girls when they are looking at careers while at school; something that isn’t presently done.”

Visit www.eveworkwear.com.au and www.everenovations.com.au.

Edible Blooms Celebrates 10 Years Of Gifts From The Heart

As human dynamo, businesswoman Kelly Baker-Jamieson, Managing Director of The Edible Blooms Group, gears up for her company’s big, 10-year birthday celebrations next year, she shares the secrets to her amazing success.

Kelly, 37, is the brains behind Australia’s original chocolate bouquet company, Edible Blooms, via www.edibleblooms.com.au, which opened its colourful doors in Brisbane in 2005.

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A unique concept in the Australian market, Edible Blooms began with a range of just nine blooms. Now, it offers more than 100 unique gifts, playing an active role in people’s important and emotional events and milestones – everything from Halloween to housewarmings, cheering up sick loved ones in hospital, celebrating reunions between Aussie soldiers and their loved ones, wedding proposals and more.

A family-owned and operated business, Edible Blooms “come from the heart, are handmade with love and are delivered with happiness,” says Kelly.

Edible Blooms, businesswoman, women in business

Happy almost-10th birthday. How has the company grown and developed in that time? Thank you! We are getting close to our big, ten-year celebration and really excited about where the company is heading and also investing time reflecting on what we have achieved in our first nine years of business. Edible Blooms started as a unique idea with big visions of delivering a consistent and high-quality gift service across Australia. Beginning with just me, my sister joined me in the first year as my business partner and we have since grown to a busy team of 35 people and multi-million dollar sales each year.

How many stores do you have? We have five stores – Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland. In 2015, we will be opening a sixth location in Perth.

How did you start the business? I started Edible Blooms with optimism and also a touch of naivety – I didn’t question what could be done, if I had an idea I just did it. To get the business rolling, I used my personal savings of $20,000 and committed to a commercial lease from day one. I traded in my car for a purple delivery van and set up a full ecommerce website to accept orders. In the beginning we had more phone orders, but quickly saw a trend towards online purchases growing and so invested as much as we could developing our online presence.

As MD, what do you love most about Edible Blooms? I love that we make people happy every day – we are part of our customers’ special life moments, ranging from welcoming new babies into the world to celebrating anniversaries and saying heartfelt thank yous. It’s a privilege to be trusted by our customers to deliver these messages with a personally selected edible bouquet.

What are some of your proudest moments or milestones on your path to business success? I think the turning point where we knew we were doing something pretty special was in 2009 when we were awarded Telstra MYOB Small Business of the Year for Australia. We were so busy with our heads down working hard towards our vision that we hadn’t taken the time to look up, celebrate and reflect that we had created an amazing business and workplace for our team.

Winning this prestigious award gave us a lot of confidence to keep going and also the credibility with our corporate clients that they could trust us with large orders to thank their suppliers, staff and clients with edible bouquets as a point of difference. As our corporate clientele has grown, we consistently get a “wow” from our clients that they’ve received so many more thank you messages from sending their gifts than ever before. We take our job of making our clients look good seriously.

Edible Blooms, businesswoman, women in business

Do you juggle business and motherhood? Yes, since starting Edible Blooms at 27, I have married and had two children. It is a juggle, but being a business owner means that I can determine when I work and when I spend time with my family. Often this means late nights catching up on work when I spend time with my children during the day, but the flexibility really helps to make the most of all of my children – Edible Blooms is definitely one of them!

What new challenges lie ahead? We continue to grow at a strong rate year-on-year, so there are always new challenges. However, my personal challenge for the year ahead is focusing on the personalisation of our gifts for our clients. We already offer personalised gifts for our corporate clients with logos incorporated and custom colours, but we are keen to introduce these special options for every customer so watch this space – designing your own creation is just around the corner!

What other businesswomen do you admire? Where do I start?! So many women inspire me daily and on the weekend I was fortunate to be invited to speak at the League of Extraordinary Women’s 2014 conference “Run the World” which profiled nine entrepreneurial women sharing their stories, mine included. This was an incredible day and every speaker inspired me and motivated me to reach higher – from Jodie Fox of Shoes of Prey to Abigail Forsyth from Keep Cup and Jane Lu of Showpo.

What advice would you give other businesswomen? The key piece of advice I have, especially to those women keen to start up their own venture, is that your speed to market is becoming increasingly important. You can’t wait to perfect every part of your concept, you need to launch it as soon as it’s close to ready and listen to customer feedback. Today’s business environment is all about listening to customers and consistently refining and improving your offering. If you spend too much time behind the scenes before going live, chances are that 20 other people will beat you to the starting line and have captivated customers by relaunching an improved version of your concept before you even start.

Edible Blooms, businesswoman, women in business

What are some of the biggest business mistakes you’ve made? In my “get it done” mentality, I invested heavily in a VOIP telephone system for the business a few years ago that was too sophisticated for our needs. It cost a lot to unravel and I went back to my tried and true simple solution and have never looked back. Never overcomplicate something that can be simple!

Have you had to overcome any major obstacles? When the GFC arrived in 2008, we had committed to a new office building purchase, moving all of our systems to an expensive cloud based ERP system and also purchased our first server. Just as we had started to get in front, we were hit by our first slow-down in sales since opening the doors. After an initial freak out, we rationalised a strategy of developing a large “under $5” gift range and managed to keep our top line sales growing by 30 per cent through that tough time. Whenever a major obstacle comes along, it forces lateral thinking to create a solution and I find that we are always stronger for it.

How do you stay inspired? By surrounding myself with positive people and on my office wall in front of me I keep lots of inspiring quotes and messages to keep me smiling and focussed.

Do you have any business mentors? Yes, mentors are really important. You need to find mentors who will ask you the tough questions and keep you accountable. If your mentor only gives you positive feedback, find another one! They should make you feel uncomfortable and continually question what and why you are doing things.

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