Businesswomen is not a term we hear often, with media referring to “businessmen” by default, and in the case of The Announcer’s treatment of this month’s Paris march, airbrushing female leaders out of the picture altogether.
As an award-winning employer, last year I was introduced on national radio to share the “businessman’s” view of flexible working – so any step towards a more inclusive view of businesspeople has to be welcomed.
But we’re not a minority or a specialist sector, we’re 51 per cent of the population and most of us work in some capacity, whether we’re salaried professionals or providing the informal childcare and carer support that keeps society functioning.
If we “businesswomen” have been identified as a new target group, the question is, what do businesswomen want?
A quick straw poll in the office this morning reveals five key demands for anyone who wants our vote:
Demonstrate equality with a Government of all the talents
Show us MPs and a Cabinet that reflect Britain in all its great diversity. We want to see people and policies that mirror the priorities of the nation. The poor retention of female MPs, particularly those with experience in industry, does not give us confidence that Government is no longer an old boys club. We know that diverse talent is out there, we expect political parties to recruit and nurture it. u2028
Make work pay
Having the highest cost of childcare in the world after Switzerland is not a soft issue – it’s bad for business and the economy. Support working parents and the companies that need their talent by making quality childcare and extended schools affordable and accessible to all. u2028
Increase the social impact of entrepreneurship
Many of us businesswomen are entrepreneurs – abolish corporation tax on profits reinvested in our companies and we will spend it on generating 20 per cent more jobs. u2028
Strike the right balance between growth and cuts
Professional women are disproportionately employed by the public sector and are already bearing the brunt of austerity, with twice as many women as men losing jobs in Local Government since 2010. Consider how we can mitigate this and ensure any unavoidable cuts are offset by private sector employment opportunities and a clear plan to redeploy our valuable public sector talent. u2028
Put business top of the policy agenda
We’re businesspeople first, women second. We share the same priorities: light touch regulation, security of our trading relationships in Europe and beyond, and a “steady as she grows” approach to the economy. Place more emphasis on growing the topline, with the result that we could reduce the level of austerity required to balance the books.
David Cameron has put a stake in the ground to identify with us as an audience – now show us the policies that will give us businesswomen what we want.
I’d love to hear your comments – what can political leaders do to meet businesswomen’s concerns?
Claire Mason is managing director and founder of b2b communications consultancy Man Bites Dog.
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