So here is another beauty and health issue. On and off for many years, I have been plagued by spots, big, small, something akin to small countries.. And ironically these only starting appearing in my early 20s. I had not suffered one spot during my teenage years and then during the first year of university, I developed a rash which left an unsightly mark. A friend of mine then recommended Clinique – the most awful products to grace a shop floor and thereafter I started a journey of using every brand in the world and every new treatment to help me combat oily skin/spots/pigmentation etc. You name the brand, I have tried it and continue to be a product junkie the older I get. That being said, I am loving the age and blemish range from Skinceuticals and am trying the Restylane skincare range and amazingly still faithful to Bee Venom from Heaven. The whole skin problem has been exacerbated by my stressful but fun years in the city but also being plagued with polycystic ovaries and endometriosis has not helped. These two things have given me great problems over the years and it is through a strict regime of diet and exercise and having kids that has helped me on the road to health.
But back to the products – as I live in WAG land, I am lucky to have a great beauty salon down the road that keeps up-to-date with every new gadget, skincare range etc and had it not been for them, I would not have the silky smooth legs of de jour or getting my slinky form back (see I am junkie!). Jill Zander – the owner and namesake of the salon, looks amazing and yet has never resorted to invasive surgery/treatments but merely the various machines in the salon. For me it is like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory except with machines! I love it – the best shop on Esher High Street.
I also realised that over the years I have had my face in the hands of every facialist in Vogue’s top 10 – I have loved them all at the various times that I have used them but my favourites to whom I return are the lovelies Deborah Mitchell http://www.heavenskincare.com/and Julia Hart http://www.juliahart.co.uk/ . Both give me something very different. I leave Deborah, feeling like royalty (!) – relaxed and calm. Julia is very technical and gives me the practical facial when I feel that I am lacking and is currently guiding me through my skincare crisis post TD. Due to the hormones (and possibly erratic sleep/eating and not controlling my PCOs and endometriosis), my skin takes about 18 months to get back to normal. So having two major weddings (small brother/sister-in-law) has left me in desperate times and Julia and Deborah have been on hand (I am a WAG!!).
I am therefore trying to stick to a good routine, and back on the exercise and healthy food thing again. Love Flavia del Monte (crazy super hot woman who provides exercise regimes which kill me and nutrition tips) and am supping on my greens/juices/flax seed and perfectil tablets (there is a serious junkie theme going on here!) and am consuming much Willow water and taking the Willow water test http://www.willowwater.com/challenge/take-the-willow-challenge/ – will let you know in 6 weeks how I feel.
As an adjunct to my ageing gracefully post, I read that even the gorgeous Cindy C has issues with ageing and the rising up of her long legged gamine daughter… Cindy, supermodel I am not but sharing the sentiment.
Interview with Allison Page, AWS Legal Business Woman of the Year 2011
Allison Page is a partner and UK joint head of the projects practice at DLA Piper in Leeds. She has a strong commitment to developing up-and-coming lawyers in her practice.
The Association of Women Solicitors (AWS) describes her as an extraordinary talent who exemplifies how the AWS is ‘essential for the success of each woman solicitor at each stage of their careers.’
Have you experienced or identified any barriers to career progression specific to being a woman at any time in your career? If so please describe and also state how they could be overcome or negotiated.
I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have been developed and supported by senior partners enabling me to fulfil my ambitions. So far so good.
Do you think there are particular issues that affect women at the junior end of the profession?
There is certainly a perception that it can be difficult for women to succeed in a demanding profession like law. But the world is definitely changing and sector-wide, there appears to be a growing movement towards supporting women to ensure they feel they are able to reach their full potential.
Certainly at DLA Piper, the number of women coming through as trainees is greater than the number of men. Like other professional organisations we are working hard to find ways to support our staff regardless of gender to ensure that we don’t lose our talent.
How could workplace culture and working practices be better for women and particularly women junior lawyers?
At DLA Piper, we work hard to ensure that women have both the support they need and the opportunities they deserve in their careers. We have a number of successful female lawyers leading practice groups and our Leeds managing partner is also a woman. Setting an example in similar ways is definitely something that can help change the perceptions people have and be inspiring to women lawyers.
We have set up a Women’s Network, an internal forum which provides an energising, empowering and effective environment for women working here. It gives women a platform from which to network, find the right help and support to achieve personal objectives and help develop the careers of their contemporaries or more junior employees.
Externally, I’m a member of The Two Percent Club, a national initiative which aims to help more senior women raise their profile, advocate the issue of women on boards and network. These kinds of initiatives are helping drive the message home that, for those who want to commit themselves to a career in the profession, there is support available.
This network has another tier, called The Pearls, which is for more junior women who have the potential to be future leaders. Forums like this can be immensely valuable for developing contacts, but also for boosting confidence and capabilities.
If you could enforce one change to help women working in law what would it be?
It is difficult to think of one thing which would change the working environment fundamentally. I do think it would be helpful for people with responsibility for performance management to undertake training on valuing difference.
What advice would you give to women who are starting out in their legal careers?
It’s essential that you do your research into the type of lawyer you want to be – there are a whole host of different options and career paths and making the right choice is crucial. Each offers different opportunities and rewards and is suited to different personalities, so it’s all about finding the right fit to play to individual strengths and characteristics.
Make sure you make the most of the university milk-round process and do as much research as you can into the type of roles available and the firms you could work for, so you understand what you’re committing to.
Do you have a role model or someone who inspires you?
There are many people who have inspired me during my life.
I have always admired very strong women, being from a Northern Irish female-dominated family headed up my indomitable grandmother (aka spitfire) and as a child I recall being in awe of our then prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
During my career I have been fortunate to work with many people who have inspired me. From Nick Painter, one of our former partners who died in 2007, I observed the importance of caring for and inspiring your team.
More recently I have had the opportunities of working closely with Sarah Day and Bob Charlton. Sarah Day is our office managing partner in Leeds and also a member of our board and although clearly an extremely successful woman she has lost none of her grace and charm along the way.
Bob Charlton is the head of the group within which I work, Finance and Projects. Working with Bob over the last three years has been a revelation. He is the single most inspiring person I have ever worked with. He is gender blind, extremely inclusive and incredibly dynamic. DLA Piper has always been the most incredibly exciting place to work and Bob has taken it to a whole new level.
Parenthood may be one of the hardest roles that one can do in life. I myself find being a mother a bittersweet experience. When I hold my babies close, there is no greater feeling for me than knowing that I grew these two beings and feeling their heartbeats against mine overwhelms me every time. That being said, those who know me and who read my posts know that I have an internal battle with being a mother and a professional woman and often consider the dichotomy that women face once they have had children. Currently I am berating myself for being hard on Princess A. When there is more than one child, one is constantly sharing themselves and when the child with the understanding misbehaves, it is easy to scold that child. So this week, with work getting busier and the house soon to be extended, tempers have been frayed and I have been self-flagellating. But yesterday, I pulled myself up and reminded myself, like I frequently do, that yes discipline is required and that his nibs and I are trying to bring them up to be amazing people and occasionally tempers will be frayed and we will in fact, irritate our children as much as they may irritate us sometimes but overall, we are doing an okay job. They laugh and are happy and so on mothering Sunday I will bask in my role as a mother knowing that the daily grind can be hard and when Princess A and the Tasmanian Devil are teenagers, I will look back on these days fondly (!) and as I did this morning, hold Princess A so that every cell of my body can transmit the incredible love that I have for her.
Crazy – maybe, but I was listening to the story of the day this morning with Simon Bates (a daily fix for all in the car on the way to the school) and the story broke my heart. The story was about Sarah Fletcher who found her young daughter hanging from the banisters and somehow, upon her death, found the courage to donate her organs to give life to others. As we were listening, I felt the tears fall down my face and when Princess A asked me why the little girl had hurt herself, I could not bring myself to speak. I was heartbroken for this mother who will perhaps never know why her child took her own life and so I held onto my child with such ferocity because I still have her. The fully story can be heard at http://www.smoothradio.co.uk/shows-presenters/simon-bates-at-breakfast/our-tune-with-simon-bates. The resonating part of the story is that Sarah could not donate the heart “because that was her daughter’s”.
So happy mother’s Sunday to all mothers and so too to fathers because most of us are just trying to do a damn fine job and by and large most of us are succeeding.
Every 90 seconds a woman dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. You can help reverse these shocking statistics. Sign our pledge to help reduce needless deaths and ensure healthy outcomes for women worldwide.
IMOW has joined forces with Every Mother Counts, a global maternal health campaign, to create this Pledge. We will deliver the Pledge and your signature to governments and policy makers, culminating with a special presentation in conjunction with the UN General Assembly in September 2012. Your voice will be heard!
Signing our Pledge will provide you with campaign updates and opportunities to take action on global maternal health issues from Every Mother Counts. You will also receive occasional updates about new and inspiring content in the MAMA exhibition, which you can opt out of at any time.
I believe that all women have a right to safe pregnancy and birth. I ask my government to keep its commitment to the UN Goal to advance maternal health by 2015 – ensuring that all women have access to reproductive healthcare and reducing needless maternal deaths. I am joining a global movement working to advance maternal health for women worldwide.http://mama.imow.org/pledge
Imogen Schoen wrote on 12 March 2012 - the Huffington Post UK – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/the-cambridge-union-society/a-reflection-on-internati_b_1338948.html
This morning, listening to the radio, the first article I heard centred on gender equality. At the moment, there is debate in Hollywood about the voice-overs for trailers, which are overwhelmingly male. Production companies defend the situation, citing the suitability of ‘big, deep and resonant’ voices for the task; some women are seeking to change it.
In fact, gender equality is always in the news. Yesterday, Annie Lennox made a defence for feminism; last year, the slut walks caused a sensation throughout the Western World. Yet so many issues of gender equality don’t make headlines. Today’s world leaders are overwhelmingly male: Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy, Putin and Kim Jong Un to name but a few. According to the UN, over 67 million children still receive no education. And well over half of them are girls.
A few days ago, it was International Women’s Day. While women do not have equality, it is absolutely crucial that the world continues to mark this day, and takes action for a fairer future. Yet many, men and women alike, deny the need for feminism today. Some believe gender equality has been achieved; others think feminism is embarrassing, because it is ‘too militant,’ or too ‘strident.’ Still others are content with the status quo.
I should lay my hand on the table. I attended an all-girls’ high school, and am a student at Murray Edwards College, one of the three all-female colleges in Cambridge. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t think that girls could achieve the same, or better, than boys. To be honest, before I came to Cambridge I thought the battle, in England at least, was largely won. Clearly I have been cosseted in these all-female establishments, because they don’t reflect the real world.
It was a complete culture shock to arrive at university and witness the dynamics in mixed debates, many of them at The Cambridge Union. As a general rule, men speak, and women listen. It isn’t that women don’t have points to make. They do, they just don’t voice them in public.
I noticed this early on, and discussed it with friends, in a distant, abstract kind of way. But this term, one of my papers is taught in a mixed class of 25 (the gender divide is roughly equal.) We divide into groups of five; discuss, and report back. At the end of the first class, I was happily reflecting on how it had gone, and thinking about what else was happening that day. This daydream was interrupted when our lecturer remarked that every person who had spoken that day was male.
True, this is one standalone example. That none of us in the class that day even noticed the gender imbalance could show that it was random chance who spoke. But this interpretation seems wilfully wrong. That class showed, to me, that feminism is still a very much current issue in the west. Actually, it made me more fearful for the plight of gender equality than even overt misogyny. If gender divides are so inherent in our society, that we don’t even notice them, we must work doubly hard to combat them.
To achieve this, I think there are two crucial issues to address. Firstly, successful women must become proud to be feminist. This term, the Cambridge Union Society debated the motion ‘This house believes that the only barrier to female success is female ambition.’ One of the most strident speakers in favour of the motion was a female journalist, Liz Jones. Her argument was based, to a large degree, on the premise ‘I have succeeded in a male world; therefore all others can; therefore feminism isn’t a real issue.’ In fact, I have female friends at school and university who share this view. I find it bizarre: surely women who succeed would want to help others do the same? Yet the view persists, and is crippling to gender equality. If women who succeed never admit the barriers they faced, then wider society belittles them, and the situation is not changed.
Secondly, gender equality needs to become a continuous issue in the minds of all people. At the moment, women are still the absolute minority in positions of leadership. Wage equality is a long way off being realised, and societal sexism is endemic. The feminism debate at the Cambridge Union, and International Women’s Day both raise the same issue. If women have centre stage for a day, then where are they during the rest of the year? Of course, events celebrating women are positive, and we need to publicise gender inequality. But to make feminism a solved problem, then the spirit of International Women’s Day must be adopted in daily life; by men as well as women.
Marjorie Scardino became known as the first lady of the FTSE when she was appointed CEO of Pearson in 1997, but it was finance director Kathleen O’Donovan who was the first woman to join a FTSE board six years earlier.
Two decades on, finance is still a gateway to board advancement, but women’s progress is painfully slow – prompting EU calls for quotas. In the UK, the Davies Report and the influential 30% Club may have resulted in a flurry of new appointments, but recruitment firm Norman Broadbent has warned that the UK will still miss Lord Davies’ recommended 25% target unless boards step up their searches for senior women.
“We don’t have a supply problem,” says Dr Ruth Sealy, the deputy director at Cranfield’s Centre for Women Leaders. “The figures needed to sort the [30 %] problem out are not a big deal.”
It’s lower down the talent pipeline that cracks appear. In the UK, nearly half of those joining accountancy are women,compared with less than 5% in the 1970s. But at accountancy firms, women make up 23% of all partners, according to Catalyst, although 49% of all accounting employees,
And, while women are better represented on the boards of big accountancy firms than the FTSE, their proportion tends to remain unchanged from one year to the next.
Firms were long ago warned of the dangers of accounting becoming a two-tier system (with women on the lower tier), but some appear unable to address the problem.
The proportion of female ICAEW students has barely changed from 2006 (41%) to 2011 (38%). Female membership numbers, too, remain somewhat static (25% female), indicating the profession has got a serious ‘talent leak’ somewhere.
Yet 57% of the women who break through to the board have experience in finance roles, according to Cranfield’s Women on Boards report, which analyses annually the gender makeup of the FTSE.
A finance background may have a “legitimising” effect, suggests Dr Sealy.
Anne Tutt, a non-executive director and former FD for a number of organisations, agrees, “Accountancy is a great way to get into business, with a qualification that gives you instant credibility and can parachute you in at a higher level.”
Female accountants are growing impatient: 48% of the women polled for recruitment firm The Mergis Group’s Women in Finance survey were dissatisfied with their career progress — although the vast majority would still recommend accountancy to younger women.
There are “plenty of women in tax”, says Francesca Lagerberg, head of tax at Grant Thornton, but not many are reaching senior positions.
“Some of this is choice, but, as a profession, we haven’t cracked the support. There’s a need for strong, successful role models, so that we have the belief that we can do it,” she says.
What is blocking progress?
Qualified ACAs begin at parity, according to Rhonda Martin, head of ICAEW’s Women in Leadership team, but there is a “falling off” among women aged between 30 and 40, only partly explained by motherhood.
While men and women appear to pursue similar roles (primarily in business, or in practice), women cluster around the lower end of the pay scale and job roles. Most male CFOs earn £100,000 to £250,000, while most of their female peers earn £50,001 to £100,000. Whereas 14%of female CEOs/COOs/MDs earn less than £200,000; that figure drops to just 1% for men.
It’s unclear whether the recession is adversely affecting women outside the public sector; the TUC suggests some may fare better than men. But, something is certainly causing them to disengage.
Sarah Churchman of PwC, (quoted in a paper for the University of Warwick’s Institute for Employment Research), believes women “are using [the recession] as an opportunity to exit the corporate world. Highly qualified women seem disillusioned with their prospects, believing that reductions in development and learning budgets will create long-term career damage.”
Some moves are positive: Linda Cheung used a background in accountancy and banking as a springboard to launch CubeSocial, a social media business.
“There is a wealth of opportunity for women in finance”, says Sarah Barber, whose career has taken in Deloitte, shoe brand Jimmy Choo and her current role at Jenson Solutions, a firm for portfolio FDs. “The beauty of working for a smaller organisation is that you are master of your destiny. And flexibility is in the company’s DNA.”
There are other factors that would stem the “hidden brain drain” – and some steps women themselves can take to shape their own careers. Disruptive innovation expert and investor Whitney Johnson advocates sponsorship and angel investing, as well as networking with men as well as women – but the real onus is on businesses.
“Retention and promotion in professional service firms is the bigger challenge – developing a pipeline of female talent,” says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, founder of 20First consultancy and author of How Women Mean Business.
Strategies that focus on ‘fixing the women’ are of limited use if they fail to address institutionalised bias. What’s needed is systemic change, led by the CEO or chairman.
“It’s not about women’s talent, ambition or aspirations,” says Eleanor Tabi-Haller Jordan, the general manager for Catalyst Europe. “It’s about workplace culture. Companies are facing a set of intractable issues and implicit biases”, while leadership stereotypes are invidious for women – as Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg notes the traits required to be successful can also make women unpopular.
Tabi-Haller Jordan sees the demographic shift, technology (particularly social media) and the eurozone crisis creating a perfect storm that is galvanising change: mid-career hires are asking questions, articulating needs and expectations around flexibility. “It’s no longer just a nice to have”, she says.
Managers need to be educated, she adds, “It should be seen as a social competency, with managers not just accommodating diversity but eliciting it. Leaders understand that this is what’s needed for 21st century managers and organisational structures.”
A voluntary code of practice among search firms should encourage boards to look beyond the usual suspects for candidates – and will allow women without experience to apply. But “we have to keep the momentum going,” says Katushka Giltsoff, a partner at the Miles Partnership and 30% Club steering committee member.
The next step – persuading lower-profile, less receptive boards and nominations committees actively to promote women, then proving their presence makes a difference to the bottom line — may be harder.
Says Giltsoff, “There’s an element of carpe diem about the current situation – this is probably the best opportunity ever for women, but they have to work hard and grab it.”
On International Women’s Day – light words on an inspirational day..
Words for Women to Live By
1. Aspire to be Barbie – the bitch has everything.
2. If the shoe fits – buy them in every color.
3. Take life with a pinch of salt… A wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.
4. In need of a support group? – Cocktail hour with the girls!
5. Go on the 30 day diet. (I’m on it and so far I’ve lost 15 days).
6. When life gets you down – just put on your big girl panties and deal with it.
7. Let your greatest fear be that there is no PMS and this is just your personality.
8. I know I’m in my own little world, but it’s ok. They know me here.
9. Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself.
10. Don’t get your knickers in a knot; it solves nothing and makes you walk funny.
11. When life gives you lemons in 2011 – turn it into lemonade then mix it with vodka.
12. Remember, wherever there is a good looking, sweet, single or married man there is some woman tired of his bullshit!
13. Keep your chin up, only the first 40 years of parenthood are the hardest.
14. If it has Tyres or Testicles it’s gonna give you trouble.
15. By the time a woman realizes her mother was right, she has a daughter who thinks she’s wrong.
Thursday is the 101st anniversary of International Women’s Day and as part of the Women of the World exhibition, several high profile women were asked to reveal their hopes and dreams for their own daughters. I particularly admired June Sarpong’s response: “my dream for all the daughters of the world is that they know their self-worth and always expect the best from themselves personally and professionally. I dream of a day when all daughters understand their true feminine power and what a positive force it can be for the betterment of humanity.”
This encapsulates exactly what I want for my daughter and was proud when she wrote a note this last weekend relaying her love for myself, her father and her brother but above all writing “I love myself”. This was not written in any narcissistic way but I believe as a reflection of her true worth. Will she still feel these words in her teens, her 20s – I can only hope so and hope that I inspire her on a daily basis. This brings me to my own worth and my future goals. Of late, several of my friends have been setting forth certain milestone goals. I truly believe that I am achieving much of what I wish to daily but my main goals are to:
- Take my family to Africa and India and understand the dichotomy of the culture, the beauty of the land and the evident oppression of women.
- Raise awareness of trafficked women and children.
- To appear on TED - a fellow Voices of Women Worldwide member has been on TED Dubai and major congratulations to her.
- To pass the hallowed halls of Number 10 so that the government of the day understand the oppressions of women and children that still exist in this country. Again hearty and deserved cheer and pride for my friend Tanya Rennick for doing this last week. http://www.theoysterclub.co.uk/
- To help organisations like Polished Pearl – http://blog.polishedpearl.org/
- Finally to attain contentment – I seek this for my daughter and yet personally find it one of the hardest things to maintain on a daily basis. This is for me will be the most elusive on my list but attaining the above and ensuring that my family are safe and strong will get me there .. and of course ageing gracefully!! http://manicmother.net/2012/02/27/ageing-gracefully/