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Theresa May and the future of female leadership in business

August 12, 2016

 

 

I have often pondered the question:  Does having female political leadership benefit female entrepreneurship?

 

In the US, the people are witnessing one of the most interesting presidential races in history. As it boils down to Clinton against Trump, the public finally had the first-ever female presidential nominee in the country’s history.  However, unlike her nomination campaign, female leadership is no longer among Clinton’s first priorities. After earning the nomination, Clinton turned her appeal to the matter of race, gun violence and immigration to strengthen her position against Trump.

 

"I never dreamed about success. I worked for it. -- Estée Lauder, Estée Lauder companies

 

I think maybe it’s still too soon to tell. Yet, it doesn’t look like female leadership in business will come back to the top of her list any time soon.

 

Across the pond, British citizens also marked the success of Theresa May – the first female Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. May’s first public address focused on immigration and large-scale economic policies post-Brexit. Female entrepreneurship did not make the cut.

 

It is certainly interesting that two of the most important female figures are choosing not to focus on women in business.

In 2011, when May was the Home Secretary, she led a £2 million scheme to obtain 5,000 volunteer mentors to encourage female entrepreneurship. However, this happened when her office was under fire for an apparent “reduction in gender equality” despite her role as equality minister.

 

Nevertheless, it is interesting to compare two of the most powerful women leaders at this time. Both aspired to hold the highest position at the most powerful nations in the world. Yet, neither mentioned promoting female leadership in the grand plan.

 

"No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens. --

Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States

 

Perhaps, the urgency of a post-Brexit economic resolution overshadowed the importance of any other matter. Similarly, in the US, with continuous police shootings and public protests, race and immigration are more topical than “promoting female leadership”.

There is no doubt that appropriate Brexit long-term economic policies deserve immediate attention. Yet, I hope that having the first female Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher will draw more attention to females both in politics and business. After all, female executives do play an important part in entrepreneurship and innovation; which eventually contribute to boosting economic growth.

 

Having said all that, from a personal angle I do find it amazing that in this day and age we are still taking about “promoting female leadership” etc.  I really do hate generalizations but I have employed lots of talented women in executive positions for many years and I found them to be just as effective as men in similar roles, and quite often very much better!  I suppose it really is all down to performance and all this gender nonsense should be consigned to the business history books.

 

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