Sue Evans, partner at Lester Aldridge, offers some top tips to women in the local business community:
- More than a token. According to the Financial Times, a well constituted board needs three to four women on it. One female director on the board is seen as a token woman, two are likely to be seen as conspiring, whereas three or four are viewed as ‘proper’ directors. But, before becoming a director, take advice on your exposure and ensure the company takes out an appropriate directors’ liability insurance.
- What about equal pay? At the current rate of change, working women will not achieve equal pay until after the year 2050. You can promote a better understanding in your workplace of what our equalities legislation says about the right to equal pay and encourage a pay structure based on an objective evaluation of job demands.
- Life partners are one thing, business partners are something else altogether! Many businesses start off with good intentions but as the honeymoon period ends and as times get tough, relationships can sour and have a detrimental effect on the business. A well drafted shareholders or partnership agreement will regulate the relationship between individuals, dealing with any deadlock situations (if applicable), the management of the business and exit strategies will enable a partner’s share to be bought out at a fair price.
- Doing deals. Look for a way for both parties to win. Every time you think there’s a ‘win-lose’ situation, look for ways to make it ‘win-win’.
- Influencing styles: Try using silence strategically; you’re not over-promising or under-selling in ways you will later regret. You’ll not only be able to contemplate your next move, but silence often makes your counterpart share information, restate their position, or try to guess what your position is. Each of these attempts to break the silence puts you in a more favourable position.
- Improve the bottom line: The evidence suggests that women bring equally valid and valuable qualities to the workplace. Where business values all its employees and has women in senior roles, the bottom line is better! So be confident and trust your instincts.