Addressing Gender Balance in Business

August 21st, 2014 by

UK2 talks to company CEO Amanda Boyle about smashing the glass ceiling and making sure it stays smashed…

It’s been more than a century since the first women were allowed to study at university and forty years since the first woman became the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

However, although, there are more women in board-level business than ever before, a recent study has revealed that 89 percent of executive committee jobs in Europe are still held by men.

So what can women in business do about it?

One woman who’s asked this question on a regular basis is CEO Amanda Boyle. Amanda’s entrepreneurial career started in the deep end as far as gender balance is concerned. In 1997 she founded Caledonia Contracts Limited, which made her one of the few female chief executives in the construction industry at the time.

Amanda BoyleSince then, she’s gone on to work in several executive roles, wearing the director, chief exec and chairman hats.

At the same time, though, she’s positioned herself as a champion of women in work. In 2001 she founded Women Ahead, a network of business women. These days she’s a mentor to women in business, as well as the CEO of her own crowdfunding business, Bloom VC. Oh, and did we mention she’s a mum, too?

“There’s research all over the place that says gender balanced companies and management teams are more profitable,” explains Amanda. “Yet I’m always being told that it’s too much of an ask for employers – to create a gender balanced team. I was told that 20 years ago and I’m still being told that today. Gender balance isn’t a difficult problem to solve – it just needs individuals taking active steps to change old habits in each company.”

In Amanda’s experience, one way of tackling gender inequality in the workplace is to address the language used in business and she encourages companies to think about the use of gender neutral communications.

“The language that men and women use in business is different,” explains Amanda. “Even the way men and women talk about their ambitions are different. Women talk about ambitions in terms of small steps. They don’t set out saying ‘I’m going to make a million.’ Men are more likely to talk about the big, the biggest and the best. Companies need to recognise this and make language neutral.”

As a contributor to three separate coaching and support programmes, Amanda also believes a culture of coaching and mentoring could help women in business.

“Role models really work,” says Amanda. “Mentoring schemes are about understanding ambitions and issues at the individual level and coaching people to achieve their goals in the best way for them.”

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