Women in business? We must be comedians
How are women at the helm of a company treated? Linda Jones gives a personal insight...
I’ve worked hard over the last four years to build up a business.
Turnover has been respectable – not the biggest pile of cash in the world granted - but when you consider I’ve been able to work part-time round my family, I happen to think it is quite an achievement.
We are an all-woman firm. There are five of us and we are all mums. I now work full-time hours as does my fellow director, Carol, whom I met at antenatal classes. Our colleagues work part time around their families.
At a time when being a mum can be a hurdle to a career, the fact that I am surrounded by these talented women at work is a constant inspiration for my day ahead.
Imagine my delight then when we welcome an expert financial adviser into our office to explain setting up a company pension scheme and he tells us he understands we need the ‘mental stimulation’ when we are away from our children – a nice ‘little job’ to keep us busy. (But don’t get him wrong, he loves kids, he says.)
“I don’t want to patronise you but here’s a diagram of a bucket,” he smiles as he outlines how pensions work.
But this adviser is not the first to treat us like our minds really must be elsewhere. The financial whizz we turned to explain options for possibly re-mortgaging our homes to invest money in our business, was a gem. He told us we should lie and tell our building societies we each wanted a new kitchen.
And when we protested, what did he suggest? Why discuss it with the men in our lives of course.
I've met all sorts of business advisers – all men - and to say I have been disappointed with their attitude is like saying I like the odd pie. My personal favourite is the business growth ‘expert’ who told me that when I was feeling ‘snowed under’ I should put a baseball cap on and turn it backwards as code for ‘do not disturb.’
I'd like to say it's different at home, but well it isn't always.
My partner's reaction when I told him Carol had been shortlisted for the award she won? "That's nice, what's for tea?" Cheers for that, Sweetheart.
Our bank manager, to his credit, has always been hugely supportive. Even if he greets me with a sunny: "It’s always good to see you, you make me laugh.”.
How lovely to be seen as so welcoming – but would he really say that to two men who’d started their own business? That’s other than Matt Lucas and David Walliams, of course.
Linda Jones is the director of agency Passionate Media, when not reporting on women being quizzed about missing shuttlecocks, she blogs at You've Got Your Hands Full, Freelance Writing Tips and Twitterati.