Inspiring Women in Business

Article for INSPIRE 34, the September- October business magazine of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce

Here is the link to the magazine page and the content is posted below.

Inspiring Women in Business

Benefiting from all the talent in your business makes business sense

Source: 2019 Research by Janet Hayes, Executive Coach, for an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change at Henley Business School

Why do we need to inspire women into leadership in business?

Women are still significantly under-represented at senior levels in organisations, despite decades-old equal opportunity and pay legislation and organisations’ focus on diversity. In large professional services firms like PwC where Janet spent 18 years of her coaching and HR career, in 2017 fewer than 20% of partners were women.

In 2018, McKinsey’s researchers found that companies who were in the top 25% for the gender diversity of their executive team were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability. Inevitably, having fewer female leaders has a detrimental effect on overall gender pay gaps.

What helps women become leaders?

Seizing early responsibility, supported by sponsors and mentors, plays a key role. Neuroscience tells us that early leadership responsibility prepares and inspires young adults to assume leadership roles. This small advantage over others then builds into an ever-greater advantage as women progress, building their sense of self-efficacy, which in turn fosters their adaptability and resilience, necessary to compete and lead in our volatile and uncertain world.

Sense of fairness: Women often believe that hard work is enough to get them promoted. It might be at the junior levels, but this changes. When those better at self-promotion advance ahead of them, women suddenly realise that they need to raise their profile and play the “political game” to be fairly rewarded for their achievements.

How can you help?

Recognition and encouragement: Women appreciate recognition and encouragement from sponsors, mentors, coaches, peers and their own teams. Peer groups, both men and women, are especially appreciated for moral support with complex lives.

And outside of work? Informal networks and the team around women at home are invaluable, especially if they have children. Of the women leaders with children that Janet interviewed, more than 50% have partners at home that are at least as involved in childcare as they are.

Top tips

  • Ensure that recruits recently out of education get early responsibility in your business.
  • Use technology to support a flexible working culture where output is rewarded rather than input.
  • Find and publicise female and other diverse role models.

If you would like to inspire women in your business, for a no obligation discussion on the value of coaching and other initiatives or to ask Janet to present at a Board meeting or company event, contact

For more information, visit