Working with the right role models

PUBLISHED: 13:37 28 March 2011

Do you know, if I hear one more alarming statistic about the gender pay gap and inequality at work, I think I might scream !

Having spent the best part of a working week attending seminars and speaking about International Women’s Day this month, I feel a gloom creeping over me and an inability to absorb any more depressing facts about women being undervalued and underpaid in the workplace. I already know that – what I don’t know and what I want to know is: why aren’t we doing more to help ourselves ?

Unless individuals can take the initiative, I fear that the prognosis, that the gender pay gap will not close until my daughter’s daughter is earning her living, might be a tad optimistic.

Rather than pontificating upon the reasons why we are in this state, I suggest that we embrace the concept that the status quo needs to 
change. After all, change is all around us; nothing is standing still in our world or indeed sadly across the world.

I was fortunate to be invited to hear Karen Jones CBE talk at the UEA Business School, and as I listened to her tell the students about her phenomenal success in the hospitality industry – you may know her as the power house behind Cafe Rouge – it occurred to me that the only way to combat the lethargy is to ensure that the next generation of young women are better prepared, have higher expectations for themselves and quite rightly, regard themselves and 
their cohort as, at the very least, equal.

One step in the right direction 
must be increasing their exposure 
to the right role models; women 
such as Karen Jones offer up 
real intelligence and an appetite for hard work, rather than an appetite for sensationalism and a new hair colour, such as the likes of Katie Price. We can all benefit from knowing how women like Karen think and how they view their world.

One gem that Karen offered up is that her success is partly due to her own emotional intelligence and that of the teams around her. 
Emotional intelligence (EQ) in a nutshell is the subset of intelligence that involves our ability to monitor our own and indeed other’s feelings and emotions and thus, once mastered, pave the way for good decision making. I think we can all agree that there cannot be a better time for good decision making in business.

We should look to ourselves and think about what we can do to make a difference. Otherwise I fear that International Women’s Days will come and go but the topics of discussion will remain the same. Karen Jones gives us all the 
following advice, which I have 

Be confident, accept that you 
will make mistakes; recognise 
when you are in a groove, evolve, seek help when you need it, be ambitious and always be the best you can.

My advice: make the decision 
today to become a role model yourself.

Mary-Jane is a business coach and mentor and founder of Green Light,

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press