International Women's Day 2020 is on Sunday 8 March.
Chloe Shakesby

International Women's Day: How can businesses in London encourage the leaders of the future?

This International Women’s Day, Bdaily wanted not only to look at what the business landscape looks like for women in 2020, but to examine what is needed to support the female leaders of tomorrow.

We invited firms and organisations from across our key regions to share what they feel is needed to support the next generation of women in business.

London business leaders stepped forward to address what businesses can do to support women in their ranks, solidarity between women in business, and how women can motivate themselves to succeed in industries dominated by men.

Karen Holden, founder and managing partner at A City Law Firm, said that women immersing themselves in the culture around their industries is important, as is finding confidence that they have the right to be in those spaces.

“My number one piece of advice is to be visible.

“Make sure you are giving and attending talks related to your industry, pitching yourself and your brand and being your own biggest advocate / supporter.

“When I started out, I was called “disruptive.” I used to see that as a negative, but now, not only do I see it as a positive, but I actively encourage other women to be ‘disruptive’ in their chosen fields.

“Stand up, stand out, take risks and make waves. We also need to leave the dreaded phrase ‘Imposter Syndrome’ at the door.

“You are where you are supposed to be, so never question it and do not self-impose barriers to your own success. There will be enough people looking to do that for you.”

She also commented that finding other women who might have advice can be helpful.

“The support that women-only groups can offer is invaluable and finding a female mentor who you can share stories, worries and ideas with you is a brilliant way to navigate the tricky transition of being a businesswoman.

“Imperative though to ensure that you network with male groups as well to ensure your network is vast, varied and not gender specific.”

Nanna Saito Nielsen, director of banking operations for GoCardless, said that businesses themselves need to consider programs that they can implement to help support women who work with them.

“A prosperous company is one which is diverse. Initiatives like International Women’s Day are helping the fintech industry redefine what it means, or who you have to ‘be’, to work in financial services.

“With the focus of this year’s IWD being an equal world is an enabled world, there’s clearly a conscious effort throughout workplaces to meet the needs of everyone – of all genders.

“A good example of this is parental leave for mothers and fathers, as well as flexible working for those with families or out-of-work commitments.

“This open environment goes hand-in-hand with a fintech’s customer offering, and aims to make the workplace less stressful so that innovation and growth can thrive.

“However, the disappointing female presence in the top 100 fintech influencer list shows the industry needs to do more to attract and retain women.

“At GoCardless, we set up the Inspiring Women initiative, which encourages staff to regularly discuss how we can be more accommodating for all employees.

“The initiative was organised by a group of senior-level women who wanted to ensure that GoCardless continues to be a place that encourages growth and flexibility for women, as well as support our younger colleagues to be ambitious in their careers.”

Jazele Parys, site manager for Bellway, said that finding your passion is the most important thing for young businesswomen to do.

“I wanted to do something in the construction industry when I was younger and people told me I couldn’t do that because I was a woman, but that motivated me further.

“Do what you want to do and do it with passion.”

Helene Hall, CEO of Melt Digital, said that as well as women focusing on their own careers, they should make time to support other women, in whatever way they can.

“I can still vividly remember my first real job and feeling the underlying perceptions of my seniors looking at me, my then 20-year-old self.

“Looking back, I can see how the attitudes and perceptions of others pushed against my developing sense of self (sometimes limiting me but at other times becoming the fuel to my determination).

“We are all different and with different circumstances so to make a significant impact for our next generation we need to take individual responsibility as women, not only for ourselves by setting our own goals (making sure that you are not limiting your own success) but also by pushing it forward through offering support or mentoring other women in business.

“Through these actions, we can work as a team and lift the ceiling on self-expectations.”

What more can be done to support and inspire women in business? Let us know on Twitter @Bdaily #InternationalWomensDay.

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