18 years on, and stronger than ever – International Women’s Day
Here at ALM translations, we are under the leadership and guidance of our two CEO’s Lisa and Rachel. As women who have been at the helm of this company for 18 years, who better to ask about this year’s International Women’s Day topic, equality, than our very own CEOs. So I went and did just that, and I got some excellent insight as to how the business world is progressing with regards to this topic.
Do you think that society’s opinions on the topic of gender equality have shifted over the past two decades? If yes, how so, and in what direction are we headed/ do you expect this topic to go moving forward into the future?
It has gotten better – I am not chained to the kitchen sink attending my families every whim, working part-time to accommodate my family life. I run my own business, and I have my own opportunities ahead of me. I think it will always be a topic that won’t simply disappear – may be in the future; male equality might be the bigger talking point as women continue to gain strength in high powered jobs and for more prominent organisations. Lisa
What do you think helps put equality issues in the spotlight?
Social media has made a real difference as messages spread fast and wide. Also, the #MeToo movement gave women the courage to come forward to talk about their own experiences, and let’s not forget MP Rosie Duffield’s very personal speech about her experience of domestic abuse, which brought many to tears in the House of Commons last October. Women have a voice through many channels today, like never before. Rachel
What was the equality landscape like during your primary and university days?
I really cannot remember in my primary apart from having my bottom smacked by a book which would not be allowed nowadays. University, I think there were definite undercurrents from some of the louder bolshy blokes on my course who did have an impact on my confidence moving forwards. I never felt I couldn’t achieve, however… Lisa
What are your thoughts on the gender pay gap?
It’s unacceptable. Being a women-owned and run business, we don’t accept this in our own organisation and nor should anyone else. To me, it makes no sense that a woman doing the same job as a man should be on a lower pay grade. Rachel
Do you think that gulf will ever shrink?
It is getting better but would assume this isn’t the case globally. We ensure that our staff get salaries based on levels of progression and merit – and nothing to do with gender. Lisa
Did you always have a vision of operating your own company or was this something that happened due to a chain of events?
It was definitely a consideration, as we’d discussed the possibility, but we were spurred into action due to being made redundant by our then employer. We had to get the business off the ground quickly as we had no redundancy pay or anything to fall back on as we had mortgages to pay and at the time, I had a small child to look after. Rachel
What were the difficulties and successes of operating this company that you had to face and overcome during its early stages? Any connections to equality?
We have both experienced comments which relate to equality over the years. Comments to our male staff from male business contacts, who have asked what it’s like to be working for two women with a nod and a wink.
Dealing with some male-dominated industries, it has been fairly uncomfortable over the years to visit or to be taken seriously. Now, even though I don’t like speaking in front of people, I am starting to care less. May be down to experience and confidence in ALM and what I know. Lisa
How can leaders best bridge the gap between younger and older workers? Why do you think it is essential to do so, or do you think its a minor thing?
Leaders need to consider the balance between younger and older workers and see a mix of both as a positive thing. They also need to be mindful of discrimination and inspire a positive mindset among staff. In our organisation, young people bring in fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the business, whereas you can’t beat life experience when it comes to understanding people and depth of knowledge. The benefits of a mixed-age workforce should be actively encouraged in businesses. Rachel
What would your words of encouragement be for women who wish to own their own company?
Go for it! Family life doesn’t have to overtake your life. Business and being a working mom can go hand in hand. I think women can be equally as fierce as men! Lisa
What are the internal and external challenges that you have to face and overcome when running a company as female CEOs if there are any?
Internally, gaining respect is one. Some people assume you’ll be more lenient with them than a male boss would and in some cases, it’s actually an expectation. As women, we sometimes feel that people take more liberties with us than they should. As women, we tend try to keep everyone happy and that’s the same at home and work! This can be hard especially when we have to be tough and make difficult. There are times when people speak to us in ways that they wouldn’t dream of doing to a male boss. Things are definitely getting better though. This can be down to old-school ways. The younger generations tend to have a different attitude but expect a lot more than when we were their age and know how to achieve their goals. Rachel and Lisa