Did you know that around 32% of businesses in the UK are run by women? That means that a whopping 68% are run by men. Whilst the statistics are disheartening, the endeavour to overcome these barriers in male-dominated business sectors is being driven by leading women in their industries; the future leaders of our world are being redefined.
With the celebration of International Women’s Day last month and the representation of women and their experiences being discussed in the media, I, Katie Smith, Inbound Executive at BBD Boom, decided to interview Emma, our Co-Founder and Managing Director at BBD Boom, about her experiences in her career as a female entrepreneur and being a woman in today’s society to help empower women who read this blog. The empowerment of women is so important in today’s society as it not only educates women and young girls about their worth, but it also increases their strength socially, economically and emotionally.
What is women empowerment to you?
I define this as empowering women to have the same rights as anyone else through promoting a women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices and their right to influence social change for themselves and others. Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech, the right to have equal pay and to be able to speak their truth.
What unique challenges have you faced as a woman with regards to business?
Most of the companies I have previously worked for had all of the board members as men, but I have been lucky enough in those jobs to not always feel undermined by others. However, that does not mean that I have never felt that inequality before. Although I am the Managing Director and Co-Founder of BBD Boom with my business partner Adam Lewis, I can’t help but feel as though some clients may listen to him more than me.
Despite this, I am so proud to be a business leader that is a female and I aim to be a role model for not only my two daughters, but also the young females that surround me in my work and personal life. I want every female to find their inner strength to succeed, as I believe it is so important to represent women and to show the younger generation that hard work can pay off. You just need to believe that anything is possible and in yourself and you’ll succeed.
Which mentors or role models have positively impacted you in your career? What’s one lesson they taught you?
Although I aim to be a role model myself, I definitely have a couple of mentors that I think have positively impacted my career and personal development. In my younger career, David Ford, the CEO of a local Creative agency and I would say he taught me everything I know to date. So, he was unquestionably a big influence on who I am today. Another person who has shaped the way I view life is a client and now friend, CMO of Lumi Global, Kerry Leighton Bailey. She has demonstrated that women can have it all; they can have families and a successful career. The way to have this is through having honesty, integrity and compassion along with strive and ambition, but without treading on other people’s toes.
Can you share a woman’s empowerment moment that has inspired you?
A moment in women’s history that has empowered me from the moment I first read about it, is the Boston Marathon story about Kathrine Switzer. She was the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon, changing sports history in 1967 once she finished that famous race. Women weren’t allowed to race in the Boston Marathon, but due to a clerical error, she was allowed to officially enter the race. She registered under only her initials “K.V. Switzer”, and as a result, race officials did not realise she was a woman. Throughout the race, many officials attempted to prevent her from running the course, and even one attempted to physically rip her bib off during the first few miles of the run! But that didn’t stop her, and she finished the race within 4 hours and 20 minutes. This story is so powerful and is a perfect example that determination is key and if you believe you can do it, then you can do it. It’s such an important message for women and young girls.
What would you say is your greatest achievement to date? Have you learnt any leadership lessons as a result of this?
I would say my greatest professional achievement is starting a business and setting up BBD Boom. This is something that I have said that I was going to do since I was 30, and here I am. Of course, I regret that I didn’t do it sooner, but it is amazing to see how far we have grown in such a short amount of time. It was a now or never moment and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Through creating the business with Adam, I have learnt a number of leadership skills that can help young women to have a successful career. The first is to delegate - do not think you’re the only one who can do everything, it’s ok to need help sometimes - we all need it. Another is to treat people with kindness and respect; treat them how you would like to be treated, be fair and just remember to listen. My final one is to encourage others and support each other; making sure that you’re always available, and ensuring that your door is always open.. Through ensuring that I am a leader who has all of these qualities, it has allowed me to like myself and realise that my favourite things about me are that I am honest, kind, and that I want the best for myself and my employees and I will continue to strive to be the very best I can be..
The success of the team will always motivate me to be the best person I can, and seeing team members doing well and achieving their goals gives me a sense of exuberance. By seeing the team spreading their wings, I feel an element of self-success and I think that empowers me.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Looking back on my career, I realise there are many things that I could have done differently and if I could go back in time and speak to my 18 year old self, I would tell her to believe in your dreams (and follow them quicker than I did) and to push for what you believe. Always be kind, respectful and don’t burn bridges - it’s really not worth it. You never know where people could turn up again.
As a whole, I hope that future generations, like my girls, feel just as empowered as men and that we are seen as male equals; society is definitely changing, but just not quick enough.
“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” - Michelle Obama. A shift towards women empowerment is definitely underway and gender equality is a full-force movement with a loud voice. There is still a lot of room left for improvement but historically, we are moving forward with regards to equality for all.