Is being a feminist a bad thing?

 

International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated last Thursday 8 March. The main call to action this year is gender parity. I went to a few events during the week, e.g., Inspiring Women in the Creative Industry, and IWD with KEA and The New Zealand Business Women’s Network. Each of these events had female panels presenting truly inspirational stories and advice; the theme remaining loyal to the desire for equality of the sexes.

The word feminism was used often, which wasn’t a surprise to me seeing as we were discussing gender parity but, generally, the speakers were reluctant to admit it. Is being a feminist a bad thing? I hope all women are feminists because it only means we want equality with men.

Definition from the Oxford Dictionary

Feminism. Noun. The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

I believe Vera Nazarian, author, sums up gender parity best with her quote:

“A woman is human.
She is not better, wiser, stronger, more intelligent, more creative, or more responsible than a man.
Likewise, she is never less.
Equality is a given.
A woman is human.”

I assume activities to mark IWD may last all month in the UK, especially as the nation celebrates 100 years since women got the vote. In 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. In both countries, the women’s rights campaign was led by the suffragette movement in which women fought hard, literally, to get noticed and to be taken seriously as equal members of the community. I believe it’s this type of behaviour that has tarnished the word feminism. However, it was probably the only way women could get noticed over a 100 years ago is such a male dominated society.

I was born, raised and educated in New Zealand. New Zealand is a young country but we are brought up side by side with our male counterparts to have the same hopes, aspirations and dreams. During the 1980’s a government sponsored campaign Girls can do anything was promoted all over the country. It became part of our vernacular and ingrained into our cultural identity as Kiwi women. I had never thought of my gender as a disadvantage, that is, until I started travelling and working in different countries.

Pay parity is currently high on the public relations agenda in the UK and in many countries around the world. There has been a lot of talk in the UK, including Equal Pay Day which marks the day of the year when women in effect begin to work for free due to the pay gap. UK companies with 250 or more employees will have to publish their gender pay gaps this year under a new legal requirement. While it’s only targeting the big employers, I hope action will be taken once the reports are published and the results won’t become just another statistic.

At the beginning of this year, Iceland took legal action on pay parity. Iceland was the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women. What a fantastic advancement! Maybe if we really want results in the UK the government will need to intervene further to make pay parity a legislative mandate.

Women have come a long way since the original suffragette movement. Today I believe we needn’t be aggressive in our pursuit of equality whether we are fighting, not literally, in an organised group or trying to make a difference in our own way. What is important is that we speak; we need to speak up and be heard by our employers and colleagues. We need to speak up at the appropriate time with relevant content so that like our predecessors we are taken seriously and can influence positive change for gender equality.

I hope all women agree that being a feminist isn’t a bad thing.

I’m average, and proud of it!

 

 

My mother was appalled to hear me boast about my averageness at the most recent New Zealand Business Women’s book club brunch.

Why was my mother at book club?

She is visiting from New Zealand and had read the book we were reviewing, so she qualified to join our session.

Why were we talking about being average?

We were summarising the ways we can live life without giving a f*ck according to Martin Mason’s book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.* His book tells us we need to identity what’s truly important to us and let go of everything else that complicates life.

Under the heading The Tyranny of Exceptionalism Mason makes the point:

Most of us are pretty average at most things we do. Even if you’re exceptional at one thing, chances are you’re average or below average at most other things. That’s just life.

If we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people and the apparent exceptional things they’ve achieving, it’s pretty difficult to be happy. We should not give a f*ck about what other people do. We should value who we are and what we are capable of.

Why was my mother appalled to hear me boast about my averageness?

Growing up she always pushed – or maybe supported is a better word – my sister and me to try new activities, learn new skills and study hard. She is afraid that by accepting my averageness I won’t go on to achieve anything more. To use her words, “We need to keep moving forward”.

I disagree, and that’s why Mason’s point resonated with me. By accepting my averageness I’m accepting who I am and what I’m capable of, warts and all. I’m not comparing myself to family, friends, work colleagues or contemporaries. And, most definitely, I’m not comparing myself to people I read about or see on social media. I believe embracing my averageness is part of the journey to true happiness. And, happiness is something I do give a f*ck about!

So, who do you agree with? My mother or Mason?

 

* Mark Manson. (2016). The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life. HarperCollins.

How to become more engaged in one of the world’s largest social networks

 

Are you part of the 87% of LinkedIn members who use one of the world’s largest social networks passively?

Probably (based on the statistic above).

Then I encourage you to read this blog and start participating!

LinkedIn has over 500,000,000 members according to its official counter*. However, only 13% of people use it regularly to post updates on their news feed or engage with their connections, companies and brands. I heard this statistic while watching Viveka von Rosen’s LinkedIn Learning video called LinkedIn For Business**. This figure lags behind the engagement with other dominant social networks, like Facebook and Instagram. Why?

I have a couple of theories:

LinkedIn is a professional social network and, consequently, people may not be as spontaneous as they are on their personal networks. Members are probably more strategic in what they post and who they connect with. I know I am.

Also, in the past I’ve found the user experience on LinkedIn unfriendly. It took me a while to get familiar with the unfamiliar. Then, at the beginning of the year, LinkedIn had an overhaul and everything changed! Well, not everything but the biggest change was to the homepage where everyone lands when they first arrive. Just when I had learnt where to find things, I had to relearn where things lived. Groups was one of them. For people who were already struggling with LinkedIn’s functionality I think this overhaul could have scared some members off.

LinkedIn has been one of the best tools I’ve used to promote and prospect for my new business, Working Bee Productions, since its official launch in May. I was sure that LinkedIn was going to be beneficial but at the start of my journey I wasn’t sure exactly how. So, I embarked on upskilling myself and becoming, in my opinion, a bit of a LinkedIn Whiz!

I have three tips for anyone at the start of their journey, or members who have a new professional objective whether it is optimising your profile, developing a business strategy or creating marketing content. I shared these tips (and some) at a LinkedIn workshop I ran for the New Zealand Business Women’s Network this week. It was an opportunity to share my knowledge and experiences, and the feedback I’ve received has encouraged me to write this blog.

My three top tips

1. Try Premium for free

Once I had become familiar with LinkedIn’s new functionality and knew how I was going to use LinkedIn as part of my new business strategy, I signed up to try LinkedIn’s Premium account – free for 30 days!

There are four different Premium accounts: Career helps job seekers; Business focuses on growing your network; Sales can help identify sales opportunities; and Hiring for those looking for talent. I signed up for Business so I can only comment on this Premium account but I’m sure some/most of the functionality and tools overlap.

My Business Premium account allowed me to communicate with anyone on LinkedIn. They didn’t need to be a 1st level connection. I could message them through InMail by using my InMail credits. Very handy if you are prospecting for new business.

Also helpful was being able to see more LinkedIn network profile information when I conducted advanced searches, and seeing exactly who had viewed my profile and how they had arrived at my profile.

But, for me, the best feature by far was access to LinkedIn Learning.

2. LinkedIn Learning

What a fantastic online learning resource! I started by viewing two videos. The first, LinkedIn Learning, provided basic but essential tips on optimising my profile, building my network, using LinkedIn day to day, and managing my account. The second was LinkedIn For Business and advised on how to develop my LinkedIn business strategy, find my audience, create a dynamic company page, content marketing and recruitment.

But the learning didn’t stop there. I found a (lengthy but very detailed) video that showed me how to build my company website in WordPress. Once I’d done that I viewed another on Google Analytics. I watched videos on grammar, marketing, PowerPoint, InDesign and Acrobat DC. The library is extensive and I’m sure everyone can find something worthwhile to watch and learn.

3. Just give it a go

Most importantly, just give LinkedIn a go! Get into a habit of accessing your account each day and see what’s happening. You will see how members and companies are using it and how one of the world’s largest social networks could help you build your professional and/or company brand.

If you have a new or small business you may consider creating a company page to give your business extra visibility. Showcase pages are linked to company pages and can be used to promote products or services, an upcoming event, or a recent project or case study.

In addition to posting updates and images, you can write articles. I’ve used articles for various reasons; I’ve shared experiences, thoughts, opinions and knowledge. I also find writing can be very therapeutic. It’s helped me on my path to become more emotionally agile^.

Start participating

If you’ve got to the end of this blog and you’re part of the inactive 87% of LinkedIn members, my call to action is to ask you to start actively participating on a regular basis.

 

Footnotes

* https://press.linkedin.com/about-linkedin Last accessed 16 July 2017.

** https://www.linkedin.com/learning/linkedin-for-business/welcome Last accessed 16 July 2017.

^ https://www.nzwomen.co.uk Review of June’s Business Book Brunch written by Bee Christie, Emotional Agility: Get unstuck, embrace change and thrive in work and life by Susan David. Last accessed 16 July 2017.

Now a member of the Home Business 100 community

 

Working Bee Productions is now a very proud member of Vonage’s Home Business 100; a community supporting home and small businesses in the UK. Yippeee!

I’ve been in business for almost four months now. The home is a great starting place and, most of the time due to budget and other constraints, is the only option new businesses have for our office. So, I work from home most days, which can be a bit lonely and isolating at times, but the support I get from friends and family has been invaluable – just like the support that the Home Business 100 community provides.

Home Business 100 offers advice and inspiration to new businesses and those entrepreneurs looking to take the next steps to grow their business. There are some fantastic networking events too where we can meet more like-minded members, exchange stories and share experiences.

I mentioned networks in my last blog but I encourage anyone starting out on their own, or with a small team, to get involved with local, regional and/or industry networks. For example, I also belong to the Askew Business Network, which is a local neighbourhood group with members ranging from actors, cafe owners, children’s authors, journalists, furniture makers and financial advisers, and the New Zealand Business Women’s Network, which is a professional group for Kiwi women living and working in London. If nothing else, it gets me out of the house on a regular basis and chatting with interesting people.

Watch this space for more news on Working Bee Productions’s involvement with Home Business 100, especially as we celebrate our successes!