Women in business – Laura May

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”- Sara Blakely

I feel the most appropriate place to start is with a quote. A motivational and empowering quote which I believe will help you towards success. Sara Blakely is a successful entrepreneur and businesswoman, who used her lessons with failure in order to create success. The quote demonstrates to me how you won’t know everything, nor are you expected to. Use whatever knowledge and experience you do have, and make sure you work damn hard towards your goals. Women have been continuously oppressed whether it be within business, politics or other sectors. Constantly over-looked and under-valued, however we can’t not look back, and realise just how far we have come.

A bit of background on myself; Hi, I’m Laura, 20 years old from Middlesbrough. I am currently entering my 3rd year of an Accounting and Finance degree at Teesside University. I work part-time at a local Leisure Centre, and I volunteer for Assist; supporting and developing projects, assisting in events and more recently focusing on the future vision of Assist. As well as this, throughout my time at university and college, I have been exposed to a variety of different global companies. This exposure has been through internships, program talks and events. Many of these opportunities have involved women-driven programs and sessions; exploring their gender equality goals and how they are actively working towards those (it was after one of those talks, I decided to get involved with Assist, and hopefully bring a new perspective from my personal experience.) Some of these companies have also been globally recognised for their leadership on the topic, and where I can proudly say I have been offered a graduate role.

Gender equality is clearly a key international issue, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be a ‘hot topic’ for global firms to spend their time and money on. In context, sticking with my field of finance, 12% of CFO’s across industries in the largest 1000 US companies are women. Leaving an outstandingly high figure of 88% of CFO’s are men… let that sink in, I believe that figure in itself shows just how far we still have to go. However, improvements to this day have been made and continue to be made, year on year this figure is increasing. Globally, a professional services firm female partnership has increased from 13% in 2006 to 21% in 2019. Although these statistics are still relatively low, they are increasing. People are now talking. We have come far because, as explained, a hot topic is Women in Business! As women, we must continue to push for this statistic to increase and have the belief that we ARE good enough.

For me, personally, I have never felt ‘second best’ to a man, nor have I ever doubted my ability to go and achieve what I want to achieve, knowing that nothing is in my way. One thing, if anything, I hope you take away after reading this is that if you want to achieve something then you can (of course with a lot of hard work along the way)! You are an individual, the path to where you want to get to may be challenging, but don’t let other people interrupt and hinder your development. Reach out to people, network with your contacts, actively search for opportunities to further your career and don’t forget to believe in yourself. One thing I believe that has helped me is having self-belief, I never doubted I couldn’t achieve and therefore I never let anything stop me from doing so. The only way is up; the statistics will slowly improve; we can’t let them scare us and we will continue to make a positive impact and show what we are capable of.

“Don’t think of yourself as a female leader; Think of yourself as a leader.”- Kimberley Eberl

If you would like to reach out to me, then feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn- www.linkedin.com/in/lauracmay

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