What we can do today to get more "women on boards"

Ladies, we are never going to get a gender balance at board level if we keep doing this..

One of the reasons that we don't have 50/50 women on boards and workplaces is due the way we (women) speak to ourselves. We have got to address this; it keeps happening time and time again.  We don’t even know we're doing it, but I have an inner radar for women who speak negatively about themselves and I really want to help you achieve what you're worth.  If we don’t stop, then we are part of the problem.

Women talking themselves down, under-valuing their skills and experience. Sub-consciously using language that reduces their belief of what they are worth.  If you say it to yourself and others, they will believe you!

Language is crucial, our brain believes everything we tell it.  It’s not just your fault either.  We are brought up to be “polite and respectful”, to be good, quiet little girls. This doesn’t work in the real world, you have to be confident in yourself and be able to talk about your skills and experience proudly.  Men do! Look up Sara Laschever's incredible book “Why women don’t ask” if you want more proof.

Just yesterday, I heard it at least twice...

Number 1, A Female Senior Management Finance professional, debriefing me on her interview:

“Yes, I ticked all the boxes, yes, we got on a personal level, yes I can definitely bring value… but...”

BUT? BUT! STOP - There is no but, just say the facts and stop there!

Number 2, Female candidate being interviewed by myself:

“I'm sorry to say this, I'm not bragging, but I'm actually very good at that"

NO!! You're not sorry and your not boasting! You're just good at that, leave it there!

I can give you examples every day and it’s stopping you getting promoted, getting that job and getting recognition for your work.

So today, in your business, here are 4 things to do to help reduce the gender divide:

  1. If you hear a women speak negatively about themselves (or think like this even yourself) call them out, kindly, and support them, particularly if you are a man, and maybe discuss other alternatives. Explain and discuss the detrimental effects of their words - language leads to actions.  Make these discussions normal and even fun.
  2. Give space and encouragement to the women who do talk positively about themselves, within your organisation, to speak out and be heard.
  3. If you are being interviewed yourself, keep to the facts. Avoid words like “I just”, “I only’’ and instead use positive language and be passionate about yourself.  BIG YOURSELF UP, not down.  Your male competitors being interviewed will be and they may not be as experienced as you.
  4. If you are interviewing a woman or considering her for a promotion, be aware that she will tend to under-estimate her experience and skills way more than men.

If you would like to know more about how you can help push that gender gap in senior management, I would love to hear from you.


Work life balance

Get that work-life balance right!

This topic comes up time and time again, Career, Love, Wealth & Family.

The main thing to remember is that not everyone is the same, people may give you advice on getting the balance right, but only you know what is most important to you at different stages of your life.

Things to consider:

  • Working hard and often can cost you family time now, however it may give you financial freedom and more family time in the future
  • Career vs Money – In order to have a career sometimes you need to take risks e.g. taking a lower salary in your next job, although less money at first, you will be trained and developed into something you actually love
  • Working hard does give you financial freedom, so what means more to you – a good school and all the latest toys for your children? or TIME and fun at the park with your children?
  • You can combine what you love to do and what you need to do for financial reasons, for example working your 9-5 job as well as being captain of the local rugby team and holding a football season ticket
  • You MUST make time for YOURSELF as well, all these things are important, but “me time” will enable you to manage these priorities more effectively
  • If money was no object, how would you get the balance right? This will tell you what you really LOVE and should never let go, however you fit it into your routine

So have a think about it, stop for a minute and just think about what is most important to you and your life, here and now…

If your current career or company is stopping you from living the balance you need, get in touch for a confidential conversation with one of our consultants, for some advice.

Thames Hospice Tour – They did it!

What an absolute honour it has been to know everyone at this place, the journey has been overwhelming, but one of pure gratefulness. Last week I was lucky enough to be shown around the brand new, state-of-the-art hospice; a project the Thames Hospice have been working on for many years now. 

I write this article with genuine appreciation and love for the care they provide, having experienced an intense stay here with my partner in the last weeks of his life in 2019. The team at the hospice offer an absolutely priceless gift to those in need, one of love, care, support and compassion.

This project has truly given them a place to thrive in what they are already incredible at.

“Quality of life, to the end of life, for everyone”

After over four years of planning, organising, designing, fundraising and building, Thames Hospice’s appeal to help build a new, larger hospice for its community has finally reached its goal with all services now able to run from the new facility.

They have created that safe place for patients and their families, offering not only care from a medical perspective, but from a personal and loving point of view. Here at the new hospice you have access to Therapy Services with physiotherapists that work with patients, wellbeing services, complementary therapy, counselling, bereavement support, an education Centre, a Café by the lake and shop for visitors. 

At this stage in your life I am a true believer that all you crave is the feeling of being safe, looked after and listened to. This hospice was the first and only place I feel really listened to us when we arrived at that crucial time of need, a time we felt hopeless. They changed Jamie’s life and made sure his last weeks were the best they could possibly be, in every way.

Trust and foundations, local organisations, community groups and thousands of local and influential people have either donated directly to the build, gardens or emergency appeals, shopped in their stores, introduced them to new supporters or arranged fundraising events of their own – with each one making their own contribution towards ‘Raising the Roof’ on the new hospice, all while keeping services running during a difficult time through the pandemic.

Congratulations to you all at the Hospice. It is sensational. 

CV M.O.T – Has Your CV Had a Service Lately?

When was the last time you gave your CV a good “service”? Is it still as fresh and relevant as when you first wrote it a number of years ago? Or have you just added new job roles and hoped for the best?

Servicing your CV is essential if you want to be noticed amongst the crowd and not for the wrong reasons! Here are a few hints that will push you to the front of the pile – A bit like an interview, first impressions count!

Imagine YOU are the person looking for a new member of staff, you could have a pile of CVs to select from, and so you may only be taking a minute or two to view each CV.

  1. Are you interested in the CV? Do you want to read more?
  2. What do you like about it?
    • Is it easy to read and well laid out?
    • Is it relevant to the job?
    • Can you find all the important information you are looking for?
  1. What do you not like about it?
    • Too long/short?
    • Can’t find specific details?
    • Is it messy – different fonts and styles?
    • Are there lots of unanswered questions?
  1. Does this person have the skills and story that will fit your needs and culture?
  2. Do you want to find out more?
    • CVs are a bit like holiday brochures – you only want to find out more if the basics stand out i.e. right country, type of hotel

NOW you have your first impression on this CV as a hiring manager, its time to look for the nitty gritty…

  1. Are you getting a good vibe about this person by the way their duties are described?
    • Their personal interests?
    • Specific details about them?
    • How they overcome challenges and show they are passionate about their job?
  2. Do they have the key skills and are they using the correct terminology?
  3. Do they pay attention to detail?
    • Spelling, repetition, facts and grammar

In simple terms – would you interview this person?

If you need help “Servicing” your CV we would love to hear from you!

Return to Work

HR Leaders: Return-to-the-workplace project

Are you responsible for managing the "return to the workplace" project at your company?Aside from the typical social distancing, hand sanitisers, masks etc. here is my guide containing other things to consider.

The current government advice is "Support working from home until lockdown restrictions or social distancing is relaxed."

So, what happens next and what do we need to think about?

When to return?

Firstly, and a very important point – when you have a "re-exit plan" prepared. If we have learnt something in this pandemic it is definitely how quickly things can change, so before going through the whole process of getting staff back into the office, prepare a plan to re-exit should government guidelines change again, a new sudden restriction or lockdown 4.0 – who knows anymore!

When your employees feel safe, communication is absolute key with your staff. Be transparent and specific about new measures the business has taken. There are many ways to do this without having them in the office, such as booking in virtual training on the new workspace and discussing rules/plans you have implemented. 

Lastly, and maybe an obvious one, but when the government restrictions allow you to. 

Who returns first?

This project could potentially cause some internal upset with employees, the process needs to be fair and understandable; based on the work and role requirements, not the individual worker. 

A lot of companies are creating a shift pattern, sequencing the return. This gives everyone an opportunity to slowly return to the workplace, in a fair way. This also give staff an opportunity to see how they feel and feedback to HR. 

The shift pattern will of course largely depend on individual’s ability to work remotely, requirements each role demands, and specific needs to be in the workplace. Some departments specifically need to be in the workplace at a higher priority, which is completely understandable, it’s all about communicating this to your employees. 

Be flexible, listen to employees, consider which role requires which type of set up and remember everyone is set up differently at home

What’s required in the new workplace?

Employee experience and safety is the priority here. We have had a huge wakeup call through this pandemic with regards to health and wellbeing as a whole, therefore showing your employees how much you care about and prioritise their safety, is crucial.

You will need a clear health and safety process, the standard social distancing, cleanliness, masks etc. is something we are all very aware of now, however this article is more about other things to consider outside of the standard. 

Focus on health and wellbeing upon employees return. Signs of stress, anxiety, childcare struggles, any worries or concerns are likely to crop up in your organisation, the percentage of these issues arising have massively increased in the workplace with many studies to back this up. So prepare for these concerns and plan how you will manage them. 

Another suggestion outside of the standard of what is required in the new workplace is creating a colourful and interactive map/guide for employees to effectively managing their "return-to-work" experience. Communicate the risks and new safety precautions clearly, try and keep it simple, colour coding is a great tool to consider when creating rules in the workspace.

I hope this guide has given you some suggestions you may not have already considered, it’s very easy to get caught up at the moment, with everything going on, government guidelines etc. The legal side of everything is of course priority, however this guide is more about the people behind this. 

Finance Manager Key Skills

Key skills your Finance Manager needs to boost your start up!

Your company is growing and it’s a really exciting time.  So much potential, great feedback from your clients and new team members seem to be appearing weekly!!

If you are at the point where you now know you need a full time Financial Controller, here are three extra things you may not have thought of:

Being ACCA/CIMA qualified and having solid accounting experience is, of course, essential and you will get a good FC from these criteria alone.  But you don’t just want good ….  you need GREAT, don’t you?  You have built this company from scratch and felt every nook and cranny along the way.  You know every invoice and every penny laid out.  You’ve loved it and nurtured it to where it is today and letting go can be hard.

Consider these 3 extra attributes:

  1. Do they love your “baby” as much as you?  Are they passionate about your product or super excited about your service?  This person will be critical to your ongoing growth, so they need to be all in.  Delve deep into their knowledge of your market and how they feel they can add value.  
  2. Can they talk to people?  Sounds basic right, but believe me there are some great number crunchers out there, with qualifications coming out of their ears but they can’t persuade a sales team that some deals are not financially viable.  They can’t explain pricing to Managers, and they sure can’t present to a Board of Directors!! A super communicative FD will help you with clients, marketing and recruitment.
  3. Are they creative?  Bit of an odd skill for a Finance person you might think...  Not with start-ups.  You are going to need their imagination more than you think and I don’t mean “cooking the books”.   This person will be your 2nd in command (or pretty close), and during lean times you will need them to make your money go far.  In fruitful times you will need their guidance on what is worth investing in and what is not.

Well done for having built your business to this point. 

If you would like help with finding that perfect FD, you are in the right place, get in touch with one of our consultants.