Monthly Archives: March 2013

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All too often we hear the words “you can have it all”, particularly when we see high-powered women, such as Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo) claiming success in juggling both work and family (while building her own nursery at the office). Can we really have it all, or are we really kidding ourselves?
Before the event, WMN Founder and panelist Bobbi Campbell said, “I think we’ve come a long way towards equal rights, but there’s a very long way to go with regards to providing the infrastructure to support women who want successful careers and quality time with family.”
Our panelists included:
  • Bobbi Campbell, Founder of WMN, COO of The Red Flag Group and mother of two
  • Chris Bowers, event organizer, Founder of The Underground, rock goddess and mother of twins
  • Shea Stanley, co-founder & Chief Executive Insider of LittleStepsAsia.com and mother of two.
Moderating them was Bloomberg News Presenter Mia Saini, currently pregnant with her first child.
The event hastag was #wmndecon
“What does having it all mean?” asks Siani at the beginning of the event.
“What are your priorities?” questions Shea. If you have your priorities perhaps you can have it all – just not at the same time, she says. But yes, family, children etc do make it harder to take care of all the things that matter to you. Campbell admits that after getting married, her Blackberry become an annoying distraction. And now, she has two kids. When she founded WMN, she didn’t have such responsibilities.
When entrepreneur Bowers had children, she learned that she had to let people help her and let go of some of the control.
Campbell hated relenting control. Being 34 weeks pregnant and told she couldn’t fly was something that annoyed her. At the airport, fighting for her right to fly, she was shown a piece of paper showing that the airport authorities considered her to be ‘disabled’.
Stanley started her own business before she had children, because she thought it would be a better way for her to manage ‘having it all’. But as she points out, there are times, running your business, that you need to work til 4am and suddenly it seems better to pay someone else to outsource for you.
It’s true that you work harder and longer hours when you run your own business – I do, and I’m happier. But I don’t have children (or a dog, yet). On top, you do things that you wouldn’t have to do if you worked for the man. And when you take time off, you do end up having to make up for it later or lose jobs, clients and income.
But most people do work for the man, as Siani points out. So what can corporations do to help women with children? Or what do they do that doesn’t help?
The women all throw out experiences here. They always give you a look if you walk in late because the kids are sick. Recruiters don’t think you are presentable when you walk into an interview pregnant. So there are clear challenges here, despite supposed ‘understanding’ from the man.
Sometimes people think that going part time or working from home will be a good compromise and be better, but is it? Campbell admits to questioning whether she could do it all. And as Stanley points out, some jobs don’t allow for work-life balance. Bowers says that she had to question the same thing of herself. With her own business she recently discovered that she had to find her own advice about how to manage her course at work. Loving what she does, she is happy to be daring.
What is the culture you have as a corporate company? Campbell is responsible for building that culture at her own company. She believes that Google got it right for a long time. “Breed a culture of connections, and people will voice their thoughts. Managers should help staff; individuals succeed and you get productivity,” she advises.
Do you have to take on male roles in order to get things done? One audience member says that it’s important to think about these things when you pick a partner. Her husband is the one who takes their kids to the doctor. There’s a lot of letting go too, let dad do it his way and don’t nag.
If you work in a highly male-dominated industry, it is really difficult to slip back into work after having children. Siani admits that she left the banking industry because there were no women higher up the chain whose lives and work she wanted to replicate. Ex CFO of Lehman Bothers, Erin Callan, admitted in her book that she probably couldn’t have done that job, if she’d had kids.
Siani reminds us not to compare ourselves to others, because having it all has no set parameters. Apply your own meaning to it. Think ahead and consider where you’re heading because most corporations don’t care about your family. And if it’s a start-up, then you might also find that you can’t put family first.
Having it all is something you have to own. What does that mean to you? If you require a strong personal network of support, create it. If you need a great husband who can help with kids, look for that in a partner.
Campbell’s husband travels a lot. Her company understand that from 5.30-7.30 she is unavailable because she has to spend time with the kids. After that, she’s back online doing work. Her boss seems to be ok with that, but being good at what you do makes it easier for the boss to allow you to be human.
Of course, there are lots of single mothers out there too. So how can they be helped? Things like having a friend offer a play date or coming over to visit and talk with you can help.
With so many discussion points, ideas and thoughts, there just isn’t enough time at breakfast to cover this fascinating topic. But what was great, was that there were  a handful of men in the room. And that the conversation did turn to discuss partners and sharing responsibilities. After all, Having it All shouldn’t mean Having it All, All by Yourself, All on Your Own – should it?
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Among the WMN camp, we’ve been reading up in advance of our next event on Tuesday March  26th, Deconstructing the “Having It All” Myth.

So we thought we’d share this interesting story from a Hong Kong blogger, about the women who tried to make a change and disrupt the way things worked on the Newsroom Team, back in the 1970s.

This is a story that could almost have been buried, since the first settlement was out of court. Now, there’s even a book available, telling the story.

We’re feeling optimistic here, while we think things can still improve, let’s look at how far we’ve come!

Before Women Could “Lean In” The “Good Girls” Had to Revolt: Newsweek Researchers Rebelled 43 Years Ago This Week

 

 

On March 16, 1970 Newsweek ran a cover story “Women in Revolt” about the nascent women’s movement. That same day 46  female Newsweek researchers  and their lawyer Eleanor Holmes Norton held a press conference announcing that they were filing an EEOC lawsuit against Newsweek.  This was the first female class action lawsuit. It charged Newsweek with discrimination in hiring and promotions. Newsweek had effectively constructed a female ghetto: the Research Department, full of female graduates of prestigious schools who could clip, fact check and research, but never analyse and report, and never ever rise to editor. Newsweek had developed a segregated system of journalism that divided research, reporting, writing, and editing roles solely on the basis of gender.

 

Read the rest here.

Original blog Copyright Jean P. O’Grady, J.D., M.L.S

 

#wmndecon

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Community Business has recently shared a research paper carried out by Standard and Chartered in Hong Kong, about the number of women serving on boards in Hong Kong.

Funnily, I feel as though I have seen a number of strong women in Hong Kong – and I mean in politics. I always thought that Anson Chan was a solid politician and now we see people like Emily Lau and  Carrie Lau holding some awkward positions.

Aren’t Chinese women strong and determined? The aunties in my family are definitely not to be messed with and I always felt that some of the big local families are somewhat led by the matriarch – even (the rise and dip of) Sun Hung Kai includes the mother.

But apparently, Hong Kong scores shockingly low compared with other countries, when it comes to the number of women on boards.

In case you missed it, Community Business’s newsletter about the report went like this:

Yesterday we released our latest research, Standard Chartered Bank Women on Boards: Hang Seng Index 2013.

Whilst the needle is moving in the right direction, progress to increase the number of women on boards in Hong Kong remains very slow. In the last 12 months, the number of women has increased by just three and the number of female directorships by four, resulting in a total of 9.4% of all board directorships being held by women.
 


Our figures are consistent with statistics recently made available by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx), which looked at female representation on the boards of all 1,551 companies listed in Hong Kong. The overall figure as at January 31, 2013 is 10.7% compared with 10.3% as at May 31, 2012. 40% of boards listed in Hong Kong are all male.
 


We congratulate the companies with the highest percentage of women on their boards.  They are leading the way and we hope that more companies will follow.

Read the full report, here.

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Media, Marketing & Dream Heels – an evening with Shoes of Prey founder Jodie Fox
28 February, The Playden at the Arts House
Jodie Fox, award-winning entrepreneur and founder of Sydney-based Shoes of Prey, spoke about media, marketing, dream heels and making her custom-made shoe design business pop globally online and off. Jodie, in Singapore as a guest of Women Media Networks Singapore, also shared her opinion on the assets, attributes and mindset that enabled her to change her career in advertising and law to life as an entrepreneur and the lessons that served her along the way.
Jodie Fox, former lawyer turned advertising executive turned entrepreneur, has seen her company Shoes of Prey, through enormous success since its creation in 2009.
Boasting clients such as Oprah, Rihanna and the Duchess of Cambridge, the clever ‘design your perfect shoe’ vendor broke-even two months into launching.
The online retail platform claims a whopping 50,000,000 minutes spent by customers designing shoes on their site – that’s almost a 100 years of women around the world shifting through fabrics and styles to create their custom designs.
Jodie confessed that Shoes of Prey’s ‘one product at a time’ concept was initially shot down by suppliers as a viable business idea. She was told it would never happen – that they would be broke in three months.
“Sometimes when you’re an expert in something it can blind you to good ideas and opportunities. [...] Don’t let your expertise get in the way of a good idea, because if I did, this may not have happened”
Reflecting on the publicity and press received, Jodie simply said that at the heart of it, they believe that every woman should have that perfect shoe – she alluded to Seth Goden’s Purple Cow premise, “if you pass a paddock and saw a black, brown or white cow, you’d drive right past it. But if you saw a purple cow, you’d stop the car, take a photo of it, tweet it, share it. And that’s what your business should be like – delivering something unique.”
Shoes of Prey is just as much about the experience as it is about the product; it’s about making every concerted effort to take retail into something experiential.
Recently opening a physical store, complete with luxurious furnishings made from the same fabrics used to craft the shoes, a sound track, fragrant mists, shoe bouquets and plump cushions to perch on as the customer’s inner designer gets creative with the store iPad, the whole setting is irrefutably a purple cow experience.
“We didn’t draw a map, we had a passion,” she said, referring to the how she and her co-founders came up with the business. Jodie claimed passion as “highly defensible” and a way to have the competitive edge because it gives way to insights that cannot be learned or planned.
The chemistry of the co-founders was obvious; Jodie and two gents, also former lawyers and Google alumni, teamed with one covering operations and the other technical infrastructure.
Jodie seems entirely fueled by passion; transparently energetic, the articulate fashionista talked about developing a company culture where people do what they love. Shoes of Prey, she said, actively recruit people who feed into the creative and “good vibes” atmosphere.
Most impressive was their use of social media to propel themselves in the global limelight. They sent a sample of shoes to a 16-year-old YouTube star with a following of half million viewers, which led to her releasing a ‘design your own shoe’ competition on behalf of Shoes of Prey on behalf of Shoes of Prey. The video went viral, creating a massive 200,000 website hits in a single day and 90,000 comments. The video places in the top three most commented videos in the lifestyle and how-to section in YouTube history,
The downside, Jodie admitted, was that despite the popularity, the audience was mainly teenage girls without the income to purchase. But in a second wave of luck the Wall Street Journal published a story covering their social media success. The story gave them immediate exposure to their target audience – mature women with the ability to buy their products. Shoes of Prey gleaned an award for their social media efforts we well as tripled their business.
Social media works, Jodie enthused. The main things to remember is that the power has completely shifted – it’s now all about providing value and soliciting participation from audiences – now customers want to interact with brands, so brands need to be seen as real people. It’s not about logos or standard responses anymore.
Jodie closed with her three top tips: make a decision and see what happens; do everything before you’re ready; believe passionately in what you’re doing.  Work should be life enhancing was the overarching message of the evening; think about passions, and just go for it.
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