28 Nov 2018

Bazaar at Work Summit: 5 Things we can learn from female change makers & disruptors

What do you bring to the workplace? Have you ever played down parts of your personality to be taken seriously? Or indeed, played up other parts of your character to have the opposite effect? In the workplace, the value of showing up as your whole self is increasingly being understood and valued. This has massive implications for women and the qualities that women bring to the workplace.

“I don’t think we are equal – we are different to men and we should be valued because of our differences.” – Baroness Fiona Shackleton #BazaarSummit

 

Bazaar at Work Summit 2018 – Connecting Visionary Women

We were delighted to attend the second annual Bazaar at Work Summit at Sotheby’s earlier this November as it certainly gave us lots of food for thought around this topic. It showed us how, in many industries, women are finally being valued and recognised for bringing their whole selves to the workplace.

Hosted by  Harper’s Bazaar, the Bazaar at Work Summit brought together ‘Britain’s most inspiring female leaders from the worlds of finance, fashion, business, wellbeing and technology for a life-changing day of empowering talks, thought-provoking panel discussions’.

It certainly delivered.

 

The Disruptors & Change Makers

There was much focus on those women who are the disruptors and change makers. Those who have led the way in traditionally masculine industries. Women who are part of a generation who have had to fight twice as hard as their peers to be taken seriously. For some women such as Gina Miller, this meant playing down anything that drew attention to them as being different to men, in an effort to be heard.

“I know the clothes I’m going to wear – I don’t tend to wear dresses when I’m going to battle because I work in the city… I work in a man’s world.” – Gina Miller

 

Getting Comfortable With Success

Award Winning chef, Clare Smyth, discussed how she grappled with the connotations of being awarded the world’s best female chef. After working hard for many years to be the best in the industry, irrespective of gender, she was initially uncomfortable with the idea of being recognised in this way.  But in the hyper-masculine restaurant industry, where there are few female role models, she came to see the importance of female success stories for the next generation following in her footsteps.

 

Valuing Our Differences

On different panels, Inga Beale (CEO of Lloyds of London) and 30% Club’s Helena Morrissey DBE demonstrated to us how their ambitious, resilient and tenacious attitudes have led the way for the next generation of women (and men) who are now coming through the ranks. They spoke about the importance of creating cultures where people are valued for their differences. Bucking the tradition of how they can fit into the cookie cutter mould, that has traditionally been favoured in the financial services industries.

 

The Much Needed Qualities of a Woman

As more women take leadership roles (albeit nowhere near as quickly as we would like), we can see a movement to a different kind of workplace. A workplace where individuals are recognised and encouraged to bring their whole selves to work. This has direct consequences for the qualities that women are valued for and bring to the workplace. There’s hope that the qualities that women have in spades (collaboration, empathy etc.) will be valued, respected and rewarded in the workplace. Hopefully, in the same way that traditionally masculine qualities have been perceived.

This is happening in some sectors already.  It will be fundamental to overcoming some of the biggest challenges that our society faces today. As Priya Lakhani OBE put it so eloquently “We NEED more women (in technology) – if we are concerned about ethics”. There are so many other areas where this could be applied.

The forward-thinking, clever companies got this memo long ago. And they are working through the issues to implement it in their businesses. Not least in the companies that we heard from such as Mercedes, UBS and Google. Where a new generation of business leaders see equality and diversity as a source of business growth, opportunity and innovation.

 

The New Generation of Female Leaders

More than ever it is crucial that businesses nurture the new generation of female leaders. With the rise of the portfolio career and the demands for greater flexibility, companies will soon have no excuse for losing female talent. The concept of Work That Works is something we’ve been banging the drum about for over a year. We’d love to see women supported, developed and valued throughout all stages of their life; from career starters to the very end of their career, whenever they choose for that to be.