Telling the truth about SME life today

Voice of RB First Women: “Much of business is unsung”

This applies to absolutely every industry, even the most glamorous, like fashion. Remember Meryl Streeps rant about the colour cerulean in The Devil Wears Prada Its essentially an homage to business to business. What Ann Hathaway dismisses as stuff actually reveals her lack of understanding of the whole industry. Its a joy to watch.

Anyway, digital has taken over the world and weve all had to adopt our behaviours to match. ten years ago at The First Women Awards there wasnt a single Tweet (Twitter wasnt founded until 2006). None of us would have been able to Instagram a picture of our dinner to our friends (Instagram launched in 2010). I didnt get a LinkedIn profile until May 2007.

All of these things now feel like second nature, both in our private lives and in business. And Im not one of the Luddites who think this isnt a good thing. We know more and share more than ever before, including the bad stuff.

What hasnt changed Were still talking about Board and candidate quotas. Women are still paid less than men for directly comparable jobs. Women still pick up the majority of household chores, child care and care for elderly relatives as well as work. Weve got it all but at the same time havent.

What do I want to change The attitude of girls to business. Or the attitude of the people who advise girls on careers. To quote a recent communication from my daughters school Can you help Request for Careers Experience Contacts. Particular demand for placements in Law, Engineering, Journalism, Medicine, Banking and Finance. It seems to me that careers advice only focuses on the professions and not at all on the idea that they might go into business for themselves. The professions are seen as an end in themselves and not as a route to becoming an entrepreneur (which is so much better as a term than self employed ).

Girls still think of businessmen when they think of business. Of grey haired men in grey suits. Business women are sharp suited, high heeled and dashing to a meeting carrying a briefcase. Theres no sense of what it might actually involve to work for someone who manages buildings, designs packaging or develops new products.

None of those are particularly glamorous, but they do make the world, or at least the economy go round. Business can be satisfying, productive and fun. We need to make women who run unglamorous businesses be as likely to win an award as someone who runs a global media company. Sorry Fru.

Francesca Brosan is chairman and co-founder of Omobono Limited, the digital agency for business brands.


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