International Women’s Day (8th March 2019) is a global day celebrating the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women. This year the theme is Balance for Better.
Of course, balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage … and of course a gender-balanced BBG!
Here at BBG we are proud to be an open-networking group; however, at the moment we only have two female members. Lu Etchells has been a member since 2014, and Heather Gordon joined us in 2018. We caught up with them both to ask their opinions on IWD and what BBG could do to help encourage more women to join.
Do you think BBG actually needs more female members?
Heather – I think it would be good for BBG to have a few more women in the group to have a balance of gender views. Without it, I think there’s always the risk of it becoming a bit of a boy’s club.
Lu – I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say BBG needs more female members, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. I’m used to moving in male-dominated arenas, so it doesn’t bother me (in fact, it barely registers) but some women may not feel the same, and I am conscious they could be put off by the limited numbers of women we’ve always had in our ranks.
Do you think women network differently to men?
Heather – Yes they do, many women are more pro-active in networking (in my opinion).
Lu – Oh definitely! I think women are far more naturally attuned to networking than men are. Listen in to a conversation on the school playground and pick-up time and you’re bound to hear women exchanging details of hairdressers, promoting a friend or neighbour’s Facebook page or recommending the best places to go for fancy dress or balloons. Frankly, we can’t help ourselves!
Do you think women-only networking groups work better for women than mixed groups?
Heather – Personally, I don’t like women-only groups after visiting them (bad experiences) & it wasn’t for me, I like a balance and prefer mixed networking groups, to allow for mixed opinions and ideas.
Lu – I’m the same as Heather, I’ve had bad experiences with women-only networking groups. Personally I’ve always found them to be more like coffee mornings, where women get together for a chat than doing “proper” business. So, in terms of whether it’s better for women … I guess it depends on the woman! Personally I’d rather not exclude people based on their gender.
Why do you think there are so few women in BBG?
Heather – I think there are so few women in networking for breakfast meetings, in general, due to the women doing the school run more than men. I think fewer women join BBG because it’s not very female orientated & gives the impression of a boys club at times. However, I need to add, women aren’t discouraged either and I have been welcomed and supported very well in the group.
Lu – Heather’s completely right, women are traditionally caught up on school runs on a Tuesday morning. When I look at our previous female members, they have either not had children, or their children are grown up. I’m lucky, because we run our own business Adam is at home with our kids whilst I network (he’d rather handle them than a 60-second pitch) otherwise I’d never be able to make it either!
What can be done to encourage more women to come to BBG?
Heather – Host a lady’s day and all members to invite 1 or 2 female visitors only, with rewards for those who succeed as an incentive.
Lu – I think it would be great to encourage our male members to think a little more about the lack of balance at BBG, and networking in general. So, Heather’s right, an incentive to invite female visitors would be great; however, issues are still likely to remain around childcare/attendance etc. Personally, I’d love to see more women putting their names forward to potentially sub for our members when they’re unable to attend. That way they can come along, find out more, do some networking, help out a member and not be tied to regular attendance.
Whether you’re female or male, if you’d like to come along to a BBG meeting (FREE of charge, as a visitor), please get in touch with us, by CLICKING HERE.