Being The Centre of a Social Media Storm
Written by Christine Esson
56431; 393; 178; 13…………………………………..
A list of numbers but quite an interesting list of numbers for me as these are the latest statistics to a Linkedin post I made on 25th August 2022. The reaction to my post entitled “Surely I am not alone…” has to date garnered globally:-
For those of you not included in the above statistics this post was a short comment by me to a press announcement highlighting an initiative by Scottish National Investment Bank and the Hunter Foundation to provide support to help build 12 companies with a combined turnover of more than £1 billion.
See the post on LinkedIn here
All well and good however the list of 14 names mentioned undertaking “masterclasses and dinners as part of the ScaleupScotland2.0 programme” included 13 males and 1 female – and the female listed didn’t even get a line of her own, her name was tagged on to her business and life partners name!
While applauding this initiative in general because as we all know business leaders need all the support they can get in these challenging times, I then listed 14 names, from the top of my head, who would make great advisors and supporters to any entrepreneur seeking to grow their business – Oh and those names were all women.
The rationale behind this post was to call out this scenario and seek a more gender balanced approach in any future initiatives.
I would love to say I had thought this post through before posting it late one Thursday evening, but reader I didn’t.
When my alarm went off the next morning and I saw my phone had a number of messages with the theme – “well done you” “you’ve created quite a discussion” etc etc I realised I had better go back and check what was happening online.
Suffice to say there was a lot of positive dialogue about this post and what became very apparent over the next few days and weeks, was that this post had really touched a nerve with many women and men. Particularly from:-
Women who until then had not felt comfortable in calling out similar behaviour we see all the time and not just here in Scotland.
Women who wanted to highlight other women who would be more than able to provide their own world class insight into how to grow a successful global business.
Women who had quite frankly had enough and wanted to use this platform to say so.
As one contributor put it – We need to fix the system not the women!!
A key discussion theme in the thread, was the fact that this gender bias is not unusual particularly here in Scotland and women in business face this lack of representation time and time again. The same names (usually male) are quoted regularly, the same faces appear on stage to tell us how to run our companies.
Yet it would appear no thought is given to the audience who contribute £8.8bn GVA into the Scottish economy (FSB 2018). Women in business appear to be invisible and as per one comment, it is “depressing that nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century this is still happening”.
When I speak to many business leaders I often say “be the change you want to see”. When you see a situation that you don’t feel comfortable with or don’t feel it is representative of the society you wish to operate in – call it out, aim to make a change, however uncomfortable that is.
It was very uncomfortable for me to be in the centre of that Linkedin storm for a few weeks. However I knew that I had my tribe watching my back, particularly with my Womens Enterprise Scotland and Scottish Business Network colleagues.
Putting your head above the parapet and calling out the Scottish establishment is not for the faint hearted. Post this Linkedin storm I have hesitated from calling out further similar behaviour particularly eg a panel line up at a recent key Scottish business event which had an all male panel. Knowing how close knit the business community is here in Scotland and as a recent returner to Scotland, I don’t want to be labelled “that difficult woman! “
However having reflected on this post and the comments, I now know that if I can give a voice to how others are feeling and provide an opportunity to voice frustrations at continuing under representation and lack of diversity then that is the least I can do.
From feedback on this Linkedin post I now have a wonderful database of brilliant speakers, sector experts and enthusiasts who are willing and able to provide insight into business challenges, business opportunity and business successes. My question is will this group be allowed to share these insights and provide an opportunity to engage the ‘missing millions’ that could be generated by women owned businesses in a gender-equal Scottish economy.
I would love to hear your views on how myself as a Womens Enterprise Scotland Ambassador can capitalise on the positive contribution so many individuals made to this post, highlighting the great entrepreneurial expertise we have from many women of diverse backgrounds. All of which would further support Scotland’s ambition to be world class in entrepreneurial activity.
As Julie McCann put it “There are many, many women doing great work, providing jobs and making a contribution up & down Scotland!”
This article was first published on the Women's Business Centre