Archive | April, 2012

Are we serious about socialising business?

25 Apr

There is a good post today on the Guardian Leaders’ Network @socialenterprise.guardian.co.uk on gulf between the government’s rhetoric about the John Lewis model and Mutuals – few public servants are coming forward to take over services and those that start the process are withdrawing when they discover its difficult, hard work and investment is hard to find.

Transforming public services:is the feeling mutual? http://bit.ly/lid2xV

Anyone who has been involved in setting social enterprises knows that it isn’t easy. Policymakers from all Parties tend to gloss over the complexity of implementation, the fact that demands champions, perseverance and the ability to persuade others to get involved, invest and work collaboratively.   Women are good at the latter but often lack the contacts and experience in raising finance.

Where is the finance?

On an other track-

Innovation prizes are speeding ideas and innovation both locally and internationally – A friend Helen Storey, a real innovator has been nominated for her and Tony Ryan’s  Catalytic Clothing by the Conde Nast Innovation and Design Awards. Catalytic Clothing has sprung from a project on sustainable fabrics and the fashion industry which Helen used to be part of. You can vote for her on http://www.cntraveller.com.magazine/innovation-and-design/ida-awards-2012-voting-form.

where are the women mayoral candidates?

15 Apr

Leading marketing companies are telling TESCO they need a woman ceo to make the company less macho and customer friendly.  The qualities of women leaders are recognised by African countries and promoting a woman, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the Nigerian Finance Minister as a leading contender for the post of president for the World Bank. Read excellent article by FT editor on West Africa www.ft.com/12dayswestafrica.

In  spite of a growing confidence in women’s leadership in transformation and governance, why are the women standing for mayor in London ignored? and are there women candidates for mayoral posts in the regions ? The problem for women is that they had to have succeeded and be a celebrity to be even acknowledged.

Meanwhile, apparently senior men in local government are complaining that too many women are securing local government executive jobs !!! Are they serious? Or is that when women are recognized for their transformative abilities, men comfortable with the status quo cry foul play because surely it is their right to be leaders inspite of their abilities.

For some reason it continues to be unfashionable to discuss gender politics within the UK – ” We’ve passed that” Women leaders are important in Africa and the South but not in Whitehall, Manchester or Berkshire. Tory women especially claim that if women who shout about the lack of women in leadership positions they must be ‘weak’ and that ‘they did it’ on their own – in fact the cultural shift that had taken place over the past 20 years and opened doors for them is largely due to other women campaigners.

Unfortunately, women’s equality was usually based on the unfairness argument (which of course it was/is) but as important is the arguement that any just and fair society requires men and women in leadership positions, on boards and in government. Women are not only competent managers they are increasingly needed in governance roles in communities, companies and politics. And while women are increasingly gaining executive positions in the public sector but they have not yet broken into corporation or political decision-making, and consequently the culture in Westminster and the boardroom remains conformist and complacent in practice.

While a single woman leader usually can successful lead a system, it needs more of a critical mass to transform systems and cultures. Those countries where women play a leading and equal role throughout society, such as in Iceland, then you can feel the difference in approach to problems and to life. The value system shifts from WASPish single track ambitions to social considerations and an interest in the impact of policies on people. I would welcome anyone visit Iceland it is interesting. 95% of women work and childcare is free.

There is a growing recognition that women are at the heart of change in countries undergoing transition – why don’t we recognise that Britain is also undergoing transition and that not to promote womenleaders here will reinforce an economic and social trajectory that is centralist and backs corporations rather than local connectivity, small business and social enterprise.

Where and if mayors are to be adopted, lets make sure we search for EXPERIENCED WOMEN CANDIDATES !!!