Channel Assist’s Victoria Satterly examines why women in business can be a solution rather than a problem.
In challenging economic times risk-aversion often seems to takes precedence in business decisions. Distributors clamp down on stock control, manufacturers reign in marketing spend and retailers drive self- protective commercials agreements.
This conservatism tends to reach far and wide, permeating a wide spectrum of business processes which often includes the approach to workforce management and recruitment. And unfortunately women often take the brunt. With unemployment amongst women at its highest for 25 years there is a rich talent pool of skilled and experienced women capable of adding real value your business. Yet official figures suggest that women are currently finding it tougher to start or progress their careers.
The retail industry is one in which it makes real commercial sense to have women in leadership teams, design teams and sales teams. Women have now moved from the marginal to the mainstream as consumers and trendsetters. Up to 80 per cent of consumer spending decisions including computing, consumer electronics and associated services are now made by women in the UK. This shift towards female economic power in the home is best strategised by businesses through the inclusion of women in all aspects of retail-focused activities. This will help ensure that the drivers, needs and perspective of this formidable buying power are considered in all business critical decisions from concept through to execution. In this respect women can provide a much needed competitive edge in a highly competitive market.
I believe women are natural networkers, which combined with often inherent creative capabilities results in the discovery of opportunities that others may miss.
In addition, the female focus on building long-lasting relationships facilitates the sustaining of momentum in both strategic and transactional partnerships. This ability to facilitate connections between people, resources and relationships often results in the consolidation, organisation and strengthening of business outcomes – efficiently. As business becomes more relationship-centric the natural attributes of women become increasingly more important in the workplace.
One ubiquitous challenge for women is the often negative connotations of having a family. Yet female employees with families need not be as alarming for an employer as often seems to be the case. In fact having children and juggling work and home life, which affects both men and women alike, can have a positive impact on employees. The need to work as efficiently as possible means priorities become quickly clarified, parents will sharpen the way in which they use their time. As a result, working parents will work both smarter and harder, optimising their value and delivering real business benefits.
Rather than regarding female employees as a potential risk it is perhaps more valuable to consider the many benefits they can bring to businesses. Risk aversion tends to stifle innovation and when economic times are tough, innovation in product, ideas, organisation and processes are exactly what is needed to enable your business to thrive. Employing women may actually be the solution you need and just didn’t know you were looking for.
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