Bristol’s female business leaders pave the way to closing the gender pay gap

Six inspirational female leaders joined together last night to share their tips on how women can get a better deal in the workplace and reach their professional goals.

Nearly 100 guests met at Origin Workspace and heard stories that left them in no doubt that there is a pathway to gender equality. Achieving it is often down to building greater confidence and self-belief.

Co-hosted by Bristol-based Signature Recruitment and Bristol Media, the event was inspired by the fact that eight out 10 women still work for an employer that pays men more. It started with a bold statement by Sharon Alred, MD of Signature Recruitment. She wants at least three attendees to get a promotion before Christmas, based on what they heard in the room.

The event wasn’t just about pay. The gender pay gap is caused by other things such as fewer women in senior or highly paid roles and organisations failing to plan for women returning to work. However, the message from the panel was overwhelmingly positive. They had all faced challenges and all had overcome them, many going into senior board roles and running highly successful businesses.

Developing confidence was a common theme. Several of the panel had worried whether they could perform some of their earlier roles, feeling they were they being judged more because they were women. Others talked about expecting their employers to ‘do the right thing’ with pay when the reality called for greater assertiveness on what the pay really should be. Many of the panel found the confidence to become leaders by developing their leadership skills before they actually became leaders. When the time came for promotion, their male colleagues had every confidence as they’d already seen their leadership in action.

All the panel expressed a desire to give something back and felt that women had a responsibility to support and encourage other women. The audience were encouraged to ask for support and advice, the message was that help is often there and there’s hardly any downside in asking.

Commenting on the evening, Sharon Alred said: “There was a real feeling that the opportunities for women to progress are out there as is the support. The panel gave many inspiring stories about how women can develop meaningful careers. If those attending can take confident steps after tonight, that confidence could be self-fulfilling. I’m really looking forward to hearing about those promotions.”