When we first heard way back in October of last year that Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour was going to be creating a ‘power list’ we were very excited by the idea. We’d just been working with a group called ‘Women in Retail’ (www.womeninretail.com) looking at issues for working women such as juggling work and family, career progression, self-confidence, being authentic etc. It all seemed to tie in quite nicely.
When the list was finally announced in February we were, how shall I put it, disappointed to say the least (we weren’t the only ones, read Miranda Sawyers piece in the Observer from 16th February). While there was no doubting the ‘power’ of the women on it we all felt it was a little too safe, dare I say even boring, a bit too ‘establishment’ for our liking.
But earlier this week I was listening to Woman’s Hour’s live broadcast (Jane Garvey launched the Power List films today) and, I have to say, the journey to London whizzed by. This was more like it, stimulating stuff. If you get the chance maybe download it and listen yourself.
The debate touched on some of the usual topics; raising personal aspirations at an early age, managing the work/life balance, networking and so on, but it also focused on choice, something we all have, and self belief, something women could perhaps do with a little more of. There was a great quote from Kirsty Young (she of Desert Island Disc fame) who said that when women are asked on the show the usual response is, ‘Who me? Really?’ whereas male guests are more, ‘Yes sure, I’ve been expecting you to call.’ Obviously I’ve précised it a bit, but you get the drift.
Ultimately what they were saying was if you stay true to your own personal values, are resilient and determined and show some bravery and faith in your own worth then there’s no reason why you can’t be supremely successful – regardless of gender.
Making it happen
Issues of flexibility in the workplace were also inevitably part of the agenda. If I hadn’t been driving I would have been tweeting in. It so happens that we have five women working in the Maier office, all with young families, who between them manage to work around school holidays, childhood illnesses, sports days, school plays – the whole lot, seamlessly and with minimal fuss (having been there, done that I like to think I’ve played a part in creating this workplace utopia). Our secret is complete trust in the team’s ability to sort out who covers what and when along with brilliant communications – they make all the day to day decisions on the running of the office and as long as our clients’ needs are top of mind that’s fine by me!