It’s a common belief that, especially at senior management and ownership levels, business is a man’s world. Admittedly, statistics still back this up, with the Professional Boards Forum revealing earlier this year that the numbers of women in the boardrooms of FTSE 100 companies are rising, but still only equate to about one out of five representatives.
However, despite this gender imbalance, there are glimmering examples of highly successful businesswomen in the UK, proving that girls are more than capable at holding their own and being successful in business.
Here are three prominent examples of female business role models:
Brady is most well known for her role as vice-chairman of Premiership football club West Ham United. This is a notable achievement in itself, as there are few women inside the boardroom of the country’s elite footballing structures, let alone in such a position of power.
Prior to this role, she was managing director of Birmingham City FC, and became the first woman to hold such a role, gaining her the media title “the first lady of football”. In her time at West Ham, Brady says that she has transformed the boardroom to being half made up of women, despite being the only female director at the club when she began.
Brady is also a columnist for the Guardian, where she frequently champions women in business. Her efforts in the field were recognised when she received a CBE a few months ago for her services to entrepreneurship and women in business.
Meaden is widely recognised for her appearances as one of the Dragons on the popular business-related BBC show Dragons’ Den. She has had success in the leisure and retail sectors in the past, including with Italian franchise clothing company Stephanel, and became operations director of her family amusement arcade business. She then decided to move over to the holiday park side of the business and became managing director of the company, which was later subject to a multi-million pound management buyout deal.
Meaden’s fellow Dragon is slightly newer to making regular televisual appearances, having joined the programme in 2013, but has a business repertoire to rival anybody in the Den. Previously, Hoppen was a successful interior designer boasting a famous clientele, and she remains a proprietor of Kelly Hoppen Interiors. She has presented her own television show called ‘Superior Interiors’ and has released a number of books about design. Having won recognition for her work in the field, she was awarded an MBE for her services to interior design in 2009.
What can business owners learn from these role models?
Research from the Cranfield School of Management has suggested that women are conquering the middle levels of management, but are yet to get to grips with boardroom representation. The aforementioned businesswomen are just three examples that prospective businesswomen can look towards for inspiration. They teach that women can compete and succeed in sectors that are mainly dominated by men, and that they have what it takes to command a boardroom.
Further, they demonstrate a passion in what they do and a commitment to succeed, which is why they have gone to the top of their game and received recognition in doing so, either through tangible rewards such as awards and money, or through general fame and public recognition, with Meaden’s stint in Strictly Come Dancing being an example of this.
Tips for success in reaching the top of a business
If aspiring business women can take anything from the examples that these role models are setting, then they should consider:
Presenting themselves in a confident manner. Karren Brady has said about women business professionals that confidence and self-belief are vital attributes if stereotypes are to be eliminated. She goes on to highlight the need for those women who are already established in the boardroom to mentor and guide others in their footsteps. This can be done through sharing strategies and knowledge, as well as using their power to create opportunities for upcoming female entrepreneurs.
Setting clear targets and identifying methods to achieve them. In Dragons’ Den, contestants must pitch their ideas to the Dragons, including Meaden and Hoppen, and be prepared for every question that comes their way in order to win their support. Knowing every aspect of the tasks at hand, or proactively seeking to improve your portfolio of skills, can help stand women in good stead if they face scrutiny.
Showing dedication and a great work ethic. These are variables that lead to success in business regardless of gender. Those who demonstrate the right attitude and a willingness to get the job done efficiently and to the best of their ability on a regular basis are more likely to please their superiors and get presented with the opportunity to go up in the business’ hierarchy. Gender is no boundary to that, as shown by our three examples.