Saturday, 12 March 2011

UK Selling needs the WOW factor

The 100th World Women's day was celebrated on March 8th 2011.

In London the celebrations culminated in a three day WOW festival on the south bank of the Thames over last weekend.

A set of stalls were set up in the foyer of the Festival Hall around the Clore ballroom.
Discussion groups and shows were held in the Clore Ballroom, Western Roof Pavilion, the St Paul's Roof and Weston Pavilions, the Purcell Room .

There was a great atmosphere of empowerment , intelligence and passion in the air.

Although some progress has been made in the campaign for equal rights for women there is still along way to go in many human endeavours including the world of business and selling.

Here are some stark statistics from's little book of big debate starters:

    • 30,000 women in the UK lose their jobs each year because of pregnancy

    • Women perform 60% of the work's work, produce 50% of the food, earn 10% of the income and 1% of the property.

    • 96% of executive directors of the UK's top companies are men.

    • The pay gap between men and women in UK is the largest in Europe at 15.5%

    • There are currently 45,000 women in the UK taking equal pay claims to court.

      The EQUALS coalition is a partnership of charities and organisations that believe men and women are equals and that women should have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal representation in politics, education, health, employment, family life and media and culture.

    • The EQUALS coalition is using this centenary year to renew the call for an equal world. They'll be asking the questions that women have been asking for hundreds of years even more loudly than ever in an effort to prompt a debate about what inequality looks like today.

They want to ask everyone around the world, what might being treated as equals, equal?
They are inviting men and women to reflect on the incredible progress women have made in women's rights, and discuss the inequalities that still exist, share experiences and ideas with people across the globe, and take action to tip the gender balance for women and girls.

"Women's rights have come an awfully long way since 1911" - but have Equals asks have they come far enough?

In the UK, it's easy to feel as if the fight for equality has been won, but at the current rate of progress, it will take 200 years to achieve an equal number of women in UK parliament, and 73 years to achieve equal numbers on FTSE 100 boards.

Click for We Are Equals

      There were a number of charities and campaigning organisations present at the exhibition. Here is a small selection of the stalls I visited to find out more about their work.

    • Click for Women for Women International

      Set up in 1993 Women for Women International is dedicated solely to helping women who have lost everything due to war and conflict and have nowhere else to turn.
    • Their leaflet entitled " I am the new definition of a businesswoman" - states that donations given to them gives women the opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty and changes their lives for ever. In today's wars the leaflet explains 90% of causalities are civilians, 75% of which are women and children. In spite of this tens of thousands of women in Afghanistan,Bosnia & Herzegovina, Congo, Iraq,Kosovo, Nigeria, and Sudan are lifting themselves out of poverty by using their skills in the local economy and becoming small business entrepreneurs.

      Click for The Women's Library online
      The Women's Library is a cultural centre housing the most extensive collection of women's history in the UK.

They run exhibitions and events in addition to the Reading Room Service.

The Women's Library has an extensive Printed Collections Catalogue, including books, pamphlets, periodicals and videos which are catalogued and are available to search online.

Click for Plan UK's Because I am a girl campaign

Because I am a Girl is a campaign organised by Plan UK, one of the largest children’s charities in the world.

They focus on helping girls and boys in 48 of the poorest countries realise their rights and break the cycle of poverty.

They have no religious affiliations and their aim is to enable families, communities and governments in the poorest countries to make lasting improvements to the lives of their children.

They work together with children and their wider communities to help identify and implement practical, sustainable and effective solutions to poverty. Their projects also aim to address gender discrimination and give equal opportunities to girls.

In summary they state that Investing in girls is key to breaking the cycle of poverty – it’s the right thing to do and it’s the smart thing to do.

Click for Dress for Success

Dress for Success Worldwide is an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women located in 110 cities The professional clothing, employment retention programmes and ongoing support that they provide their clients symbolize their credo in every woman's ability to be self-sufficient and successful in her career.

Dress for Success depends on a team of qualified, passionate and dedicated individuals, organizations and companies, each of whom plays an indispensable role in their success.

The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Dress for Success serves clients by referral only, and women must have an interview scheduled before receiving clothing. Our clients come to us from a continually expanding and diverse group of non-profit and government agencies including homeless shelters, immigration services, job training programs, educational institutions and domestic violence shelters, among many other organizations.
More than 3,000 organizations throughout the world send women to Dress for Success

Dress for Success relies on the financial contributions, in-kind donations and volunteer efforts of individuals and companies around the world who are committed to helping women take charge of their lives.

On a lighter note:

Many years ago a friend of mine in the Executive Recruitment world won the Daily Mail business woman of the year award. I asked her at that time was it harder for a woman to succeed in Business in the UK than a man.

She replied " Yes women have to be twice as good as the average man in business to progress but luckily the standard is not very high!!!"

Nonetheless the playing field must be levelled and glass ceilings must be smashed.

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