I am always asked why there are so few women in the Fortune 500 companies. My answer is: Who gives a toss about the Fortune 500? It is outdated: it is a lousy standard of measuring business success; it is one of the least dynamic, most conservative bodies, and admission to it is based on rotten criteria for what we should consider business "success".
Since I started my business, The Body Shop, in 1976, so little has changed in the corporations. Business organizations as we know them were created by men for men, often influenced by the military model. Hierarchical structures built on authority remain the same.
The only way this can be changed is for women to set up their own businesses. However, it is still far easier for a woman to go to a bank and secure a loan for a new kitchen or fitted wardrobe than it is to get them to agree to lend her money to start a business.
Women, however, suffer the double burden of carrying most of the responsibility for caring for family and maintaining a household, while also suffering almost universal discrimination or disadvantage.
The UN reported that if women continue to progress at the current rate, it will be 500 years before they have equal managerial status in the world. 500 years!
And after that, it will be another 475 years before women will hold equal political and economic status in the world. That's 975 years until equality!
But we are on our way. In every country I have traveled in the West, it is the older, larger corporations, dying of boredom, being eroded by giantism, that have lost millions of jobs. But it is the women-owned businesses that have been generating new jobs every year. My view is that these small to middle-sized companies that are becoming the backbone of any country's economy.
Women are flooding the job market and boosting economic growth, helping to reshape the economy. They have been the linchpin in the shift toward service and away from manufacturing. Women are a strong force behind corporate innovations such as flextime, cafeteria benefit plans, and day care centers. Women have forced the humanization of the workplace.
The corporate world must take, and in many ways is already taking, notice. Women have to be listened to -- they are standing up and they are shouting!
My advice to any woman thinking of running her own business is to start small and think of one thing -- that you are in control of your own life. Think of it as an honorable livelihood, nothing more. If you start thinking big, you will be obsessed with the bigness rather than with getting that smallness brilliant.
Millions on the bottom line are not, in themselves, a source of dignity -- in some cases, they are quite the opposite; look at the relative humanity of the corporations in the FORTUNE 500.
Topic : Women Posted By : Anita Posted On : October 19, 2001
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Re : Women on Top By Alexandra on March 3, 2005
Oh come on. Running a household is a legitimate job--in fact, that's my occupation!
Let's face it, we women are more emotional, and men are more the natural leaders. It's not something that's learned, but rather something that's innate. Boys and girls don't learn to be masculine or feminine; it's already there, you just have to nurture it.
Women are FLOODING the job market all right--hence the lack of jobs! C'mon, ladies, stay home with the kids, hubby can work! More people than jobs means employers can pay as low as they'd like. More jobs than people means employers can't pay that low--or no one will work for them! Simple math, people!
I might add that illegal immigrants cause this problem too.
"The unexamined life is not worth living." -- Plato