Sarah Howard MBE believes women in business have a lot to be proud of but more needs to be done to make sure their voices are heard, especially in company boardrooms.
The business owner and company director said: “The world has moved on since I started my career and while challenges remain, most women starting out today will not have to fight as many of the battles that I did.
“But there is still much to be done to champion the role of women in the workplace and to make sure that all businesses have better female representation across the board to improve diversity, and ultimately to improve business outcomes. I think it is the responsibility of every woman in a high-profile role to talk about their work and to encourage others to take on the challenge.
“This is something that businesses should be considering every single day of the year but it’s great that we have this day to fully focus upon it.
“Our chamber network, in the UK and around the world, is full of women who have been there and done that and continue to be pioneers in visibly championing the leadership roles of women in business. On International Women’s Day we’re here to give the advice and encouragement that others need.”
As part of its commitment to International Women’s Day the BCC has also surveyed women across its UK Chamber and International Chamber Networks about their current experiences in the workplace.
Its findings revealed that across the 123 chamber and business group network:
• Almost half (48 per cent) of its organisations were composed of more than 70 per cent women
• Only five per cent had less than 30 per cent women on their teams
• Just under 40 per cent had a female Chief Executive Officer or Director General
The survey also asked women across the network for their thoughts and feedback on what it means to be a woman in business:
Sara Williams, from the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Women shouldn’t be afraid of being passionate on the issues that they care about. They should have confidence in their own beliefs and ability. Chambers are the perfect place to offer support, encouragement and confidence building and providing role models for businesses, partners and our own teams. If given the opportunity, women bring a wider perspective into the workplace and are often the hidden glue in a team."
Francesca Ortiz, from the British Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic, said: “History has shown us that women have accomplished many triumphs through their own efforts and merits. However, although we have come a long way, there is so much more to be done. Through mutual support, women can learn from each other’s experiences and best practices, share advice, build a support network, address challenges together and carry out important projects together.”
Sharon Smith, from Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: “With a national skills shortage in some areas, women are a vital part of the solution and it’s so important that we encourage and attract this part of the labour force into roles to support the economy. Women in the workforce are also essential for balance in team dynamics – the diversification that gender balance brings is critical to any successful team.”
Adjoba Kyiamah, from the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce, said: “When I first became a manager, I was the only female and all the men on the team had more experience than I did and were very self-assured. At meetings, if I had any misgivings about decisions taken, I would keep my thoughts to myself because I assumed that they knew what they were doing. Experience has taught me that I was usually right and my perspective matters.”
More information on the BCC’s celebration of International Women’s Day can be found on our website: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/international-womens-day
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) sits at the heart of a business network that spans the length and breadth of the UK, with links to markets across the world.