Category Archives: Business

To the woman who thinks she should have it all

by Jen Faulkner

With the recent news that big companies will now have to report on their gender pay gap, including bonuses and stock options, this letter was an easy one to choose for this week’s column. Women earning less than men for the same role, or not having the same opportunities for promotion offered to them, is not something we should keep our opinions to ourselves about. The 1970 Act states that it is illegal to pay people differently, but it is still not doing what it set out to do, and the gap remains, with women on average earning 19% less than their male counterparts.

To the woman who thinks she should have it all,

Women, they’re never satisfied are they? They want it all and they want it now and have shouted loud and clear for years and slowly things have changed. Everyone knows full well these days that woman can do more than cook or clean and be a devil in the bedroom.

But now women expect to be able to have babies and retain positions of authority at work. Women think they have a right to take a year or more off to look after their offspring and then return to the influential position they previously held. And why shouldn’t they disappear for days at a time when their children are sick and still expect to be offered promotions as often as men are?

Are they simply being demanding or unreasonable? NO! I’ve yet to meet a women who doesn’t work as hard as the next best man for the job. And no, I’m not a man-hating feminist, I’m merely suggesting that perhaps women should have a choice and not be penalised for choosing a path that temporarily halts their career.  Continue reading To the woman who thinks she should have it all

Businesswoman calls for flexible working hours to help mothers get back to work

Words by Angela Brennan

Della Hudson, who runs Hudson Accountants and is calling for flexible working hours.
Della Hudson, who runs Hudson Accountants and is calling for flexible working hours.

MUM-of-two Della Hudson is calling for small businesses to offer flexible working hours to help mothers get back to work.

The chartered accountant, who runs Hudson Accountants, set up her own firm because she was unable to find a company which would offer flexitime.

Today her business has quadrupled and is manned by a team of four – and she is keen to promote flexible working hours.

Della, 46, said: “I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home-mum, but there were no jobs which offered the flexibility needed to spend time with my children and have a fulfilling career.

“I often see mothers at the school gates that are unable to work in their chosen fields because they cannot carry out 9 to 5 jobs and flexible working hours simply aren’t available.

“I think this is such a shame and companies are missing out on great talent. I think it would be in the interest of all parties if small to middle sized companies offered adjustable hours.”

Last year, workers were given the ‘right to ask’ for flexible hours. But few positions are actively advertised as flexible.

Della offers flexible and remote working, where practical.

She said: “I try to offer flexible working hours to my team, whether they are mothers or not. I think it helps bring in a high calibre of staff and I believe the adaptability is reciprocated

“I trust my team to get the work done away from the office. I know from their output that they’re hard-working.”

Della Hudson and the team at Hudson Accountants. From left to right: Dawn Bettney, Holly Bailey and Della Hudson
Della Hudson and the team at Hudson Accountants. From left to right: Dawn Bettney, Holly Bailey and Della Hudson

Della and her family had been based in Paris for four years until 2008. They came home after her husband’s contract with an international engineering firm came to an end.

In France, Della had managed charity accounts for the local church, sold English books and acted as a Sunday school teacher and English tutor.

But despite having worked for multi-million pound organisations and having 20 years’ experience behind her, she struggled to find suitable work when she returned to the UK.

So she decided to set up her own firm six years ago with little more than a computer on her kitchen table.

She juggled bringing up two young children with developing and refreshing business skills, while attracting new clients.

Della said: “I started slowly and would fit work in when I could, particularly if I couldn’t get child care. I also walked the high street to drop off mailshots to every business in the area.”

But she found a boost in confidence is sometimes needed when returning to the workplace.

She said: “You can get a bit rusty after a long maternity break, for example. I found refresher courses were helpful. But sometimes it’s just about having the confidence to take action.

“I used to deliberate for ages before making a business decision. But now I have the confidence to grow and trust my forecasts, so I just get on with making changes.

“It still surprises me that what should have been a second income has in fact become a career in itself. I’ve been able to grow, create jobs and give back to the community.”

Della offers free Money Matters seminars throughout the year – where entrepreneurs can get business advice and ideas on how to grow their business.

For more information on Money Matters, visit http://www.hudsonaccountants.com/money-matters

Can we have it all?

Charlie Albers talks to us about planning parties, raising 3 children and letting dreams guide her life. The question we have for her – as a woman, as a mother, as an entrepreneur – can we have it all?

parties 4Before I had Eva, my eldest daughter, I worked in corporate events and for as long as I can remember I always loved organising events and parties. But it was only when a friend of mine mentioned how my parties were so great that I thought why not take this further? I have done this for large corporates; I love doing this at home, so why not do this as my own business, my own job? I personally feel that it is important for children, especially girls, to see their mothers working at something outside the family, not just in the home.  I was so driven, that in one night I bought the domain name, set up my email and website and was ready to go.

It has been running for a year now. I organise and run beautiful whimsical children’s parties and events. I also have a props hire part of the business where people can hire vintage china, fabulous photo booths and backdrops as well as a myriad of gorgeous props. I have just started hiring out beautifully decorated belltents, which can be used for an additional, quirky space for entertaining at weddings and events. I love it! Continue reading Can we have it all?

Gendered teaching in classrooms

… Check out this interactive chart!

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An interactive chart in the US that has started to gain a lot of attention on social media recently has produced some interesting insights of a gendered nature. Male lecturers emerge as brilliant, awesome and knowledgeable while women lecturers are bossy and annoying, beautiful or ugly. By using 14 million teacher reviews from RateMyProfessors.com, Northeastern University history professor Ben Schmidt has created a data visualization that allows its users to explore words used to describe male and female teachers. Simply by just typing any word into the box, the chart rearranges to display how often the word is used and in which subject areas. Many of the results are quite striking in the way they illustrate gendered language and gendered biases which has – no surprise! – caused some robust discussion on social media. Schmidt, who is core faculty member of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, explained the visualization is going viral is because people have a lot of strong ideas about what words to search for.

“I have a lot more people coming to me with questions about it rather than just looking at it and moving on,” he said. “They spend more time with it as well as pass it along, and that’s been really interesting because it gives them something to contextualize.”

Continue reading Gendered teaching in classrooms

Balanced representation of women in the UK boardroom – will 25% become a reality in 2015?

So, it’s 2015 and the year is beginning to accelerate. Time to give some thought to what was promised for women’s representation in UK boardrooms by 2015. In publishing his review of women on boards in 2011, Lord Davies said this: “FTSE 100 boards should aim for a minimum of 25% female representation by 2015 and we expect that many will achieve a higher figure.
Fast forward to late February 2015 and how are we doing? Well, we can tell from figures published in the Guardian last October that ‘60% of Britain’s top firms have still to reach the government target for female directors’. In Autumn 2014, 61 FTSE 100 companies still hadn’t met the 25% female representation target set by Lord Davies. Given that, it seems unlikely that what Lord Davies had pushed for and advocated in his 2011 statement will bear fruit this year.
We can but hope but the 25% female representation goal across all FTSE 100 boards does not appear to be a particularly robust reality. Nevertheless, the 30% Club – founded and chaired by the dynamic Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment and mother of nine children – does feel that this could be possible (see quote below). Let’s hope so! That could only be good news all around.

Helena Morrissey, Chair of Newton Investment and Founder/Chair of the 30% Club
Helena Morrissey, Chair of Newton Investment and Founder/Chair of the 30% Club

‘The good news is that the goal set by Lord Davies to have 25% of women directors on FTSE 100 boards by the end of 2015 is within reach. Given the current rate of director turnover and proportion of new appointments going to women, the year end outcome will lie somewhere between Lord Davies’ target and the 30% Club’s slightly more ambitious one’.

Meanwhile, a Harvard Business Review article published just this week ‘Women Directors Change How Boards Work’ – authored by Laura Liswood, Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders – tells us, crushingly, that the United States ‘seems to have hit a ceiling of about 16% women’ when it comes to the representation of women in the boardroom. This statistic sits glumly alongside the HBR article’s opening remarks.

‘We know that getting more women on teams can boost performance …. And increasing the number of women on a team also increases its collective intelligence’

For some hope and in order to tap a richer vein of reference, Liswood looks to Norway which boasts (since late 2003) a mandatory quota system of 40% on the boards of publicly limited liability companies. Early feedback following this move is now showing the value of having at least three women on a board is important.

Laura Liswood, Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders, seen here speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Laura Liswood, Secretary General, Council of Women World Leaders, seen here speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In her article, Liswood also seeks insights into the Norwegian example from Professor Aaron A Dhir, an associate professor of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in the US. His forthcoming 2015 book ‘Challenging Boardroom Homogeneity; Corporate Law, Governance and Diversity looked deeply into the experiences of 23 Norwegian directors, men and women who had appointments both pre- and post-quota. From this work, Dhir then goes on to identify seven consequences of gender-based heterogeneity for boardroom work, board governance, and group dynamics. These are:

– Enhanced dialogue

– Better decision-making, including the value of dissent

– More effective risk mitigation and crisis management

– Better balance between risk-welcoming and risk aversion behaviour

– Higher quality monitoring of and guidance to management

– Positive changes to the boardroom environment and culture

– More orderly and systematic board work

– Positive changes in the behaviour of men

In a final statement on his findings in Norway, Professor Dhir tells us that his findings do indicate that:

‘the forced repopulation of board governance systems along gender lines has disturbed the traditional order of corporate board governance systems, dislocating established hierarchies of power and privilege in key market-based institutions’.

In other words, it can be done, but it’s going to be painful. No surprise there! But we need to bust through the pain barrier to come out the other side and begin to reap the benefits of far more balanced gender representation in today’s leading boardrooms across the world.
Clearly, reaching fair and balanced representation of women in boardrooms is unlilkely to be entirely achievable in 2015 but we need to keep the whole drive and thrust for this vital initiative moving forward. Boardrooms with heavily biased male representation need to become an anachronism in the not too distant future!

Meet Prima Columnist Caroline Quentin in Bristol this March

Join us in Bristol for what promises to be an evening filled with laughter and brilliant chat with busy wife, mum, actress, writer and Prima columnist Caroline Quentin. Following a welcoming glass of fizz, settle down to a chat with Caroline, hosted by Prima editor Gaby Huddart. Afterwards, you’ll have a chance to mingle with other Prima readers over drinks. And there’s a fab goodie bag for each guest to take home, too!

The details:

  • Date: 10 March, 2015
  • Where: Arnolfini 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA
  • Cost: £25
  • Time: 6:30-8:30pm
  • Ticket includes: Drinks reception, talk, Q&A session, drinks afterwards, and a goodie bag

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Celebrity fundraising football match raises thousands of pounds to support the plight of young Oskar ….

Oskar seen here with the extraordinary Ross Simmons!
Oskar seen here with the extraordinary Ross Simmons!

A CELEBRITY football match sponsored by mum and businesswoman has raised thousands of pounds to help fund for surgery so a boy with severe cerebral palsy may walk. Della Hudson, of Hudson Accountants – pictured in this story’s feature pic – sponsored the football kits when ex Bristol City, Rovers and celebrities joined forces to play in aid of six-year-old Oskar Pycroft.

The football legends, mixed with TV chefs and sporting names, took on a team of donators to raise £2,500 towards the cost of a private operation. The celebrity team beat the Rosco Rangers, the donators, with a 6 – 2 score. Mum-of-two Della, 46, said: “We had a great day and were lucky with the weather. “It was lovely to see so many people turn out to support Oskar. His story has really moved me and as a mum, I know I would do whatever I could to help my child.”

The move came after lifelong City supporter Ross Simmons was inspired by Oskar to organise the match.And Ross, 31, who has already personally raised around £2,000 for the cause, said the funds will help a worthy cause.The DJ said: “I’m really grateful to everybody who came to play in the match or support it. I also really appreciate sponsors, such as local firm Hudson Accountants, getting so involved.“Oskar’s such a brave boy and his story has touched so many people. There’s still a long way to go, but the money raised will go towards helping Oskar get the surgery he needs.” Continue reading Celebrity fundraising football match raises thousands of pounds to support the plight of young Oskar ….

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: A Review

Business Sense journalist, Isabelle Macintyre, provides a critique on the book that’s taken the business world by storm.

130308101143-sheryl-sandberg-lean-in-book-cover-240xaSheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, all-round over-achiever – is the latest person to address the subject of women in power.

It’s an issue that still manages to provoke controversy. And while Lean In has received considerable praise from leading figures in politics and business, the acclaim has been countered by some censure.

Most glaring, at least from an SME perspective, is the concern that Sandberg is in too much of a bubble to have anything relatable to offer. Certainly, when considering her personal wealth of $500 million, and the fact that Fortunes magazine recently ranked her as more influential than Michelle Obama, such a position is hard to challenge. But for a busy SME owner, is there anything of value to be gained here?

Lean In is an enjoyable and interesting light read, and its author is likeable and engaging. I can certainly see why it has quickly become a bestseller. Sandberg’s chief talent (among many others) is her magnificent ability to inspire and motivate those she encounters, and given her professional success, one couldn’t ask for a better coach. Continue reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: A Review

Support Bristol mum Della in her fundraising bid to help six year old Oskar walk ….

A mum and businesswoman, Della Hudson, is sponsoring a celebrity football match to help raise funds for surgery so a young boy she knows – Oskar – who has severe cerebral palsy may walk.

Della, 46, will sponsor the football kits (see the natty pink footie kits in the pic above showing Della and the team) when ex Bristol City, Rovers and celebrities join forces to play in aid of six-year-old Oskar Pycroft (featured below).

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The football legends, mixed with TV chefs and sporting names, will take on a team of donators in a bid to raise £50,000 needed for a private operation. Mum-of-two Della, who runs Hudson Accountants, said: Oskar’s story really moved me and I wanted to do something to help.

“This surgery could help Oskar walk and improve his quality of life. As a mum, I know I would do whatever I could to help my child.”

The move comes after lifelong City supporter Ross Simmons (below with Della) was inspired by Oskar to organise the match. And Ross, 31, who has already personally raised £1,500 for the cause, has been delighted with the response.

Della and Ross

The DJ from Emersons Greens said:

“It’s great to see a local firm like Hudson Accountants getting involved in such a fantastic event. It will help raise much-needed funds and awareness to run the event.”

A surgery called Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is Oskar’s only chance to walk. It would also reduce the pain and spasticity in his legs. It is available on the NHS in Bristol, but consultants have said Oskar doesn’t meet their strict criteria – and going private costs £50,000.

The local celebrities are expected to include TV weatherman Alex Beresford, This Morning chef Dean Edwards, Somerset cricketer Peter Trego, boxer Danny Butler, Bristol rugby player Sean Marsden, Cockneys vs Zombies actor Ashley Thomas and X Factor boyband Overload.

Bristol City fan Della, who has played for ladies’ football teams, added: “I love football but I think it sometimes has a bad name. I think this match will show how it can bring people together in aid of a good cause. “It also promises to be a special day for Oskar and he will be the centre of attention.”

To date, over £30,000 has been raised for Oskar, who also has gastric reflux, asthma, occasional fits and also shows signs of autism.

Della, whose firm sponsored a charity match with Scott Murray’s All-Stars at Manor Farm last summer, hopes to auction the kits after the match and raise more funds for the cause.

And Ross is also taking part in a Zero to Hero boxing match, which involves an intense ten-week programme that culminates in a boxing bout in front of more than 1,000 spectators. It is set to take place at Bath University this summer.

The match will take place at Bristol Manor Farm’s Ground on Sunday, February 8. The kick off will be at 3pm and tickets are £3 on the gate.

For more information, call Ross on 079444 045 49 or email ross_simmons@hotmail.com

To make a donation, visit https://www.justgiving.com/ross-simmons/
All photography by Flynn Guard

Mind the green gender gap!

In 2015, Bristol is the European Green Capital.

Bristol is the first city in the UK to have this title, taking over from Copenhagen. The launch of European Green Capital 2015 happened on January 24th, and was nothing but spectacular: colourful bright umbrellas, a lot of excited supporters, the Mayor and even a stunt involving a cycle on a wire.

The stunt itself was amazing. Jade Kindar-Martin from Cirque Bijou cycled on the tightrope with trapeze artist Karine Mauffrey hanging below. The title of the performance was ‘Bridging the Gap’, to symbolise the difference between our green intentions and our actions. But perhaps we should also think about bridging the gender gap. Continue reading Mind the green gender gap!