On Tuesday 25th January, Microsoft held its quarterly Small business Advisory Panel to discuss the topic of successful women in business. Panelists included:
- Tanya Shirlow, Head of SMB, Microsoft UK
- Bindi Karia, VC/Emerging Business Lead, Microsoft UK and Head of BizSpark programme
- Marie-Claude Hemming from the Federation of Small Businesses
- Geeta Sidhu, CEO and founder of Nosh Detox Delivery
- Gillian Nissim, Director of Working Mums
The panel focused on the importance of the female voice in business and how technology can play a vital role in helping working parents juggle both their professional and personal lives. The debate was sparked by research by the Cranfield School of Management which suggests only 12.5% of members on FTSE 100 boards are female.
Geeta Sidhu, CEO of Nosh Detox Delivery, suggested some businesses are not supportive enough for working parents with young children. “I left my previous job as a corporate lawyer because I was given no flexibility in the way I worked. By starting my own business, I’ve been able to use remote working technology to allow me to work when I want, wherever I want.” The panelists agreed that more should be done in terms of encouraging businesses to offer employees more flexible ways of working.
Gilliam Nissim from Working Mums added, “Business owners should have open dialogues with staff about the ways in which they want to work.”
Tanya Shirlow commented, “Gender equality is a vital part of creating a productive and dynamic business. As an advisor to small businesses, I believe Microsoft has a clear role to play in helping to educate women on how technology can greatly enhance their business while allowing them to work more flexibly.”
Finally, the Government’s decision to stop the roll out of hi-speed broadband until 2015 was considered to be a massive block in how women work in rural areas. Marie-Claude Hemming from the FSB said, “For women to take advance of new technology, it’s absolutely vital that the Government continue to roll out high-speed broadband across the whole of the UK.”