Women – we grow your business!

I had a truly inspiring day yesterday at the Women 1st conference in London.

Women 1st is an amazing project supported by the Sector Skills Council for the Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Retail industries: People 1st.  The project supports women to grow and reach their potential in the workplace and the day was to support that, celebrate it and also inspire it – it worked!  I met some really great women as I networked from many sectors and parts of the world and the quality of the speakers was of the highest order.

Many issues came across –flexible working, ”be true to yourself”, “your differences are what make you a great asset in a team”, debates around quotas but the most striking issue for me was the business case – developing the women in your company makes business sense.  Ernst and Young’s speaker,  Liz Bingham, gave some statistics.  The most significant is that 80% of the world’s purchasing is by women – if you are selling to that market, who should have a voice in the management team of your company? – women!  To grow your market you need to understand and empower women.

Susan Gambardella is a Vice President at Coca Cola in the US and she demonstrated what Coca Cola are doing about their commitment to do exactly that.  Have a look at this link http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/5by20 – it is about the 5by20 programme which aims to have worked with 5 million women across the globe and supported them as entrepreneurs by 2020 – its about recycling, training, and many things but it is about empowering women in the business.  The video clips give a great feel for the work.  She also spoke about what Coca Cola have done internally to boost women into leadership positions and develop a future pipeline of future female executives.

It is great to have a day out but when you have to pay for it you really need to feel the value!  As a woman I feel more refreshed, committed to working with other women to grow my business and inspired to play my role in supporting businesses to grow!