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Women at the top 3

I don’t want ‘special’ treatment in the work place, so in my humble opinion…

…after a small Twitter conversation earlier this week, the new writer of the new women’s business page in the FT claims that a page dedicated to women in business is their way of  “highlighting the work of minorities in a field to help dispel myths”.

Of the 7.2billion people in the world, 733m are in Europe which is 12% and 63m of those are in the UK. Out of all of those amazing numbers, the most impressive is that there are now more women than men both in the world, and in the UK – so we are now not a minority. I don’t need a ‘special’ business page, I read all the paper. You don’t have a men’s business page so why have a woman’s? Is it to represent the fact we should only read that page and not worry with the rest of it? If we want to be treated as equals – we must act like it.

It is great that Honda have a woman at the top now, as does HSBC too – this is because they are and were, in my humble opinion, the right people for the job, not because they are women. I would love to know how many women work full time in the UK versus how many men work full time and is that percentage then reflected in the number of women we have at the top? The answer is – I don’t know, and yes, I would like to see women doing well in business – but only due to merit and involvement. I, for one, do not want special treatment; I chose to work full-time and sacrifice somethings to do so. It is my choice to have a career and take it very seriously – irrespective of my gender.

Women in work is not a ‘group’ of people who need to prove themselves as capable, separate or disparate from that of men in work; lots of women are already very successful and fighting hard to prove they are just as capable as men to deliver in very high profile, and credible positions, in any job. Do women need to support each other? Of course we do – just like we would over breast or ovarian cancer, and just like men support each other over prostate cancer and their football club being relegated. We stick together in times of need, to find solitary in face of diversity – but to get on with your job or improve your career forward you need a mentor, dedication, and belief. I don’t believe that is obtained by being segregated and given ‘special’ treatment. That in itself brings into question our ability to work together as mixed genders. These types of activities are not making us equal or part of the business world – it is separating us and making us stand out from the crowd, like we should be treated differently or made to feel special.

I work in a business that is mostly made up of men – do I need a special women’s job board? To be honest I am not even sure I need a separate women’s toilet now days!

Am I lucky I feel confident in my job? Yes. Am I lucky I get accepted by all when I do my job? Yes. Do I support women in business? Yes. Do I belong to a women at work networking group? Yes (but men often come along too as guests!). Do I coach women? Yes. Do I act as a mentor to help other women find the right role for them? Yes. Do I support women choosing not to work and be a full time parent? Yes. Do I support men having careers? Yes. Do I think men who chose to travel the world and not have a career are less worthy than those who do? No – it is all down to personal choice. Do I want to read the FT Business pages? Yes. Do I need a special section to give me permission to do so? NO!

I work, I am a woman – and proud!

Susannah Schofield
First published 28 February 2014

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