Celebrating women in business: Inspirational Women 2015

Of all days to pick, National Men’s Day 2015 (19 November) was the obvious choice for the Inspiring Women 2015 conference hosted by Management Today.

Seven hours of female inspiration hurtling towards a room of 300 delegates like Diana, Goddess of the hunt’s chariot, this conference was both celebration and commiseration of what it is like to be a woman in the twenty-first century business world.

Feminism – or at least women’s rights – has been a hot topic recently, highlighted with the recent Suffragette movie and news stories of the unequal pay between men and women.

For years, women have been fighting for equality across the workplace, and the Inspirational Women 2015 event was an opportunity for key issues to be addressed through a series of keynotes and Q&As from some of businesses’ highest-female-achievers.

With motivating talks from a number of speakers including Cressida Dick (formerly the most senior female police officer in Britain), Vicky Pryce (an Economist who became a household name after serving two months in jail for taking her ex-husband Chris Huhne’s speeding points) and Sharon White (Chief Executive of Ofcom), as delegates we were privy to an insight behind women who, contrary to the odds stacked against them, have made it to the top.

Advice came through in quotes: “Bite off more than you can chew”, “be positive about what you are good at” and “life balance can make you a better person in business”, whilst Cressida summed up the desired personality traits to succeed as: “confidence, humility and resilience”.

One presentation controversially discussed the topic of IVF: promoting egg-freezing to the business woman who is far too busy to be having babies right now. Needless to say, this was met with mixed reactions from the room.

Although there was a sales-aspect to the conference (speakers shamelessly plugging their businesses and sponsors providing ‘free’ goodie bags), and some of the topics ruffled more than a few feathers, the opportunity to hear directly from some very inspirational women about the challenges they faced whilst climbing their respective career ladders was extremely interesting.

For me, the day highlighted that there is a real opportunity for successful women to help the next generation of females entering the business world. Mentoring talented young women, giving tangible, specific advice is vital to ensure that business is not a man’s world, in which only a handful of women excel.  A day of inspirational talks is a fantastic starting point, giving all attendees a hunger to succeed, however it is “deeds not words” that are needed to see a real change. Watch this space!

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