Every year we celebrate International Woman’s Day and Women’s History Month. We’ve seen a lot of progress for women around the world over the past few decades. Women’s voices are being heard and at this time of year we take the opportunity to celebrate this and bring greater awareness and gratitude for the past struggles and successes of women throughout history.
This year’s focus is equality and realizing women’s rights for an equal future. Although we’ve come a long way for women’s rights there is still a lot of room for improvement. We took the time to speak with entrepreneur and CEO of PayMotion Bobbi Leach and talked a little more about the future of women in the workplace, their role in business, and their opportunities at becoming successful entrepreneurs. But also, some issues and challenges in the workplace are still present today for women especially in key industries.
International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and recognise women. Not only today’s women but women in the past, what they’ve accomplished and the milestones they’ve achieved. From the suffragette movement at the start of last century, to women scientists and their discoveries, to successful businesswomen past and present. This day is also a great opportunity to support the younger generation of women, to encourage them to follow their dreams and to go after their personal and professional goals.
I certainly feel that women are still at a disadvantage in various industries. In some of these sectors, such as construction or policing, there are still unfavorable environments for women to thrive and build their career. Having been in the tech sector for many years I’ve noticed progress where there are more women in tech today than ever before, which is fantastic! However, in other industries where progress has been slower, we need to be able to understand and address the underlying reasons of why that is.
We can definitely observe that many of these industries are underrepresented by women, and when the majority of the leadership are male, it’s even more difficult to foster inclusion and equality for women in those areas. The issue is less about young girls thinking they can’t be a good cop or carpenter or engineer, it’s about making sure they’re supported to pursue and stay active in those careers.
The tech sector suffers from this, where women who want to become engineers or developers, get their degrees and once they start working in the industry, end up leaving these careers in their first or second year at a much higher rate than their male counterparts.
Having more women in leadership and management roles is a good strategy to see change. This would allow for a more inclusive and diverse workforce at the top levels and would definitely impact how organizations make decisions and respond to certain issues. Improving the hiring and recruiting process, is another great strategy to have a more inclusive workplace.
Finally, building an inclusive culture within an organization is important. Diversity is the key to innovation and financial growth. A more diverse workforce is a healthier workforce. Today, more than ever, companies should adopt an inclusion and diversity program that inspires their employees to grow, innovate and engage with one another.
There will still be challenges the next generation of women entrepreneurs will continue to face and have to overcome. I hope one of those areas that gets better is seeing more female role models. While many male tech entrepreneurs are spoken about on a regular basis in the media, you don’t see the successful women entrepreneurs like Susan Wojcicki, Ginni Rometty, Sheryl Sandberg, Weili Dai and others getting the same visibility. Having a role model, someone you can look up to and follow by example is so important to all the younger generations of women. Locally, we can all be role models and mentors to aspiring female entrepreneurs, showing them the ropes and giving them that extra boost to succeed.
I believe that if more women become confident in their ability to launch and build a business it will have a snowball effect and encourage other women to go for it too! Every aspiring woman entrepreneur out there should be a role model for one another. This will foster a stronger community for women where best practices are transferred, help is given, and stories are shared with their peers. Surrounding yourself with right type of people will give young women entrepreneurs that confidence to follow their dreams and go after their goals to build a successful business.