Our panel on: ‘Leaning in’


Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, has urged women to “lean in” to their careers and to “sit at the table”. Are we doing enough to push ourselves forward?

Eilish Hardiman A lot of it is confidence, and putting your hand up and believing you can do it. In my experience, when there are projects to be done, I get the males coming forward first. I can see that there are females who might be much better capable of delivering it, but they don’t put their hands up.

I didn’t have any great ambition to get where I am: I got here because someone identified my potential and tapped me on the shoulder. Men don’t need to be tapped on the shoulder, I can tell you. My job, half the time, is telling them, “Sorry, you’re not good enough for it.”

Marissa Carter When I started my beauty salon I was 21, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously. So I dyed my hair brown for the first time in my life, and I wore suits. Then I got more confident and realised I could be myself. Now with my tan product, Cocoa Brown, I go into meetings with a room full of buyers, almost always men. I think I am underestimated, but it works in my favour. I’m a five-foot blond woman, and the first impression I give is that I’m not a ball-breaker, I’m not going to play hardball or get the margins I want. I’ll tell you, I always get the margins that I want. I let them let their guard down and have the laugh, and then I go in for the kill.

Eilish Hardiman Do I worry about being perceived as not nice? No. I don’t.

Marissa Carter I firmly believe you don’t have to be hardnosed.

Caroline Erskine I actually think it’s important to be nice. Don’t feel you have to walk over people because you’re the boss.

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