Businesses urged to wake up to ‘agility’ of women’s brains

A top entrepreneur says firms should learn to appreciate the working mother

Liz Earle, a successful entrepreneur, says working mothers are good team players.

Liz Earle, a successful entrepreneur, says working mothers are good team players.

 

Before you arrived into work today what did you do?

Make the kids’ lunch, repack school bags, organise the dog, stack the dishwasher, check your emails, find a missing tie, sort out lifts for after-school sports, check your emails again, clean up the cereal spill, drop the kids to school and then drive to work?

Can I just ask at this point if you are a woman?

I am not trying to be sexist as I know there are lots of men who do all of the above and more every day.

But if the answer is yes – that you are a woman – then you have just proved a point and it is this: working women know how to juggle lots of demands and businesses should appreciate that more, according to one of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs.

Liz Earle, for those who might not be familiar with her achievements, is a successful British entrepreneur. She co-founded the Liz Earle Beauty Company with a friend in 1995 when she was a young working mother. Fifteen years later they sold the company to the US-headquartered beauty giant Avon for an undisclosed sum. Today it is a global brand that employs 600 people.

Earle still maintains a connection as a brand ambassador and, in between writing 30 books, setting up a charity, looking after her five children and helping to run an organic farm, she has also established an online project, Liz Earle Wellbeing, which aims to share her knowledge and promote ethical enterprise.

Like many working women, Earle has a busy life but she believes that the ability to juggle several things at once and never take her eye off the ball is what has helped make her so successful.

And it’s qualities like these, she says, that more businesses should wake up to.

She says her experience of having built several highly-successful and profitable businesses with predominately female employees has made her “passionately pro-female” when it comes to the workplace. But Earle believes that some organisations still underestimate how valuable the “female psyche” can be to their business.

Male colleagues

She dismisses the approach held by some businesses that working mothers are not as committed or as reliable as their male colleagues because they always have “the children” to worry about. In fact, Earle says, this is precisely why working mothers are just as good or perhaps even better than the man they sit beside in the office.

“I always say if you want something done well ask a woman, but if you want something done really well and fast, ask a busy woman.”

She is not being sexist or alarming feminist – it is simply an observation based on her experiences of how “agile” working women’s brains are.

“They are quicker thinking and faster on their feet than men are,” Earle says, because they have to be.

She says working women need to be able to successfully balance lots of demands and that on-the-job training makes them an invaluable resource to have around. Instead of dismissing the traits of a “caring homemaker” companies should instead recognise how important this could be to their business health and managing teams of people.

She says women who worry about what their children and families are going to eat for dinner are precisely the kind of people who are also going to be caring of their teams: they instinctively make good managers, according to Earle.

Her approach has always been to give women with families “time to work”.

Old rule book

Earle outlined her approach in Belfast at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual lunch where she told more than 400 businesspeople that sometimes this means having to throw out the old rule book.

Instead of making someone sit at their desk until 5pm, if they have finished what they need to do let them go at 4.45pm in time to pick their kids up from school.

Instead of insisting that your employees make a senseless commute every day maybe let them work from home occasionally or all the time thanks to new technology.

“Working mothers are good team players – people are what’s going to make a business a success,” Earle says.