An Impressive Showcase of Female Talent
On Friday (24th June) I attended the Women In Business Expo in Birmingham, hosted by Headz Up Business. If footfall is a measure of success, then it was outstanding; it was very busy and attended by lots of different business people from all over the West Midlands. It was my first time attending an event organised by Pushpa Alexander, who, during her welcome presentation, gave the audience insight to how and why she set up her own business. She explained that one of her key drivers, after having three children close in age, was the need for flexibility. This was one of the key messages from many of the exhibitors. We heard from a queue of inspirational women showcasing their businesses with one common motivator; that their previous careers couldn’t offer flexibility so they chose to go out and carve their own path, setting up and running a wide range of different businesses. You can’t help but be inspired and motivated by these entrepreneurs however I can’t forget the barrier that they have all faced and the loss of their previous careers. These are smart innovative women who have the ability and creativity to set up and run burgeoning businesses and yet they have all felt the need to abandon previous successful careers, which many will have trained and invested many years in developing. I understand that there is an argument that their entrepreneurial spark might be calling to them to do something different, something that paid employment could not offer, yet if there had been the opportunity to continue on their previous career trajectory with flexibility, without sacrificing status, salary or promotion potential, would they have done so?
The loss of women’s skills to the workforce is a real and worrying issue. A report published by the Women and Equalities Commission last year stated that this trend of women occupationally downgrading or stopping work altogether in pursuit of work life balance costs the economy £36billion a year. I keep thinking about the businesses that could vastly benefit from this lost talent - if it’s possible for these Mumpreneurs to manage successful businesses of their own within school hours, on less than a full time basis, or full time with flexibility, why does it seem so challenging for these skills, abilities and experiences to be used to the same effect within corporate structures?
Sarah Moore, Recruitment Consultant and Business Psychologist, set up and runs the recruitment agency, Flexible Minds, specialising in recruiting professionals on a part time and flexible basis across the West Midlands.