Kathryn White chats to Business West for International Women's DayPublished: 8th March 2019

In honour of International Women's Day, Kathryn White, who leads our Innovation Management Team, caught up with Business West to discuss her experiences and thoughts on women in the world of work:

What are 3 key things you think are important to succeed as a woman in business? 

I would rather give 3 key things I think are important for businesses to do to build diversity – the onus should not be on women to behave differently to fit in the business world, but for the business world to recognise the inherent value of having more diverse workers and leaders. 

  • The working environment doesn’t need to be cutthroat and competitive to be successful; collaboration and communication drives innovative thinking and builds a more enjoyable work environment. 
  • We’re often told that women don’t put themselves forward for roles unless they feel they have all the skills, while men will put themselves forward for roles they aren’t qualified for. For some reason this is phrased as though the women are the problem, rather than a recruitment process that manages to prioritise stronger candidates just because they shout the loudest. 
  • I hear a lot of people argue against positive discrimination in hiring, saying ‘I’m going to just compare individual ability and experience against the role criteria’, but this misses two key points: a) roles do not exist in isolation, each role is part of a team, or a management layer, and it’s essential to look at how a new hire will enhance the strategic effectiveness of the organisation, not just do the specific role (and diverse leadership has been consistently shown to improve the bottom line); and b) you are not comparing apples to apples, if one candidate has fought their way through cultural barriers, discrimination, or a disadvantaged background and has managed to reach the same level as someone who didn’t face those challenges, then that speaks volumes about their determination and passion, as well as their ability. 

My only advice for women (and everyone else!) is to be yourself and try to be the best version of you – there is no one ‘right’ way to succeed, so do it your way and don’t let anyone try to tell you that you have to be a certain type of person to make it.

Read the full interview here