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TGT Meets...Fiona Da Silva-Adams, founder of Revolution Performing Arts Ltd - IWD Special
By Fiona Da Silva-Adams, founder & managing director of Revolution Performing Arts Ltd and RPA Rapport Community Interest Company based in Swindon. Revolution Performing Arts & RPA Rapport work with young people aged four to 18 years using performing arts as a tool to celebrate uniqueness, empower individuality and build life skills of confidence and self -expression in a nurturing, gentle environment.
For more information visit www.revolutionpa.co.uk.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge – what would you choose to challenge when it comes to gender equality or inequality this year?
I choose to challenge society’s perception of young women
Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender?
As a happy, bubbly, warm woman who colours her hair blonde (and purple!) and likes to have her nails done, often I was not taken seriously as my relaxed personality was seen as not serious enough.
However, building connections and relationships with people and being friendly and kind has always been my modus operandi and as the years have developed, I care less about what people think of me and more about the effect I have on young people.
Have you during your career ever challenged a situation where you felt a woman (even it’s yourself) has been disadvantaged by gender?
Sadly, in my position at work, people mistake my gender as weakness and see it as a vulnerable position to attack. I have, on a number of occasions, been the subject of male aggression, bullying and belittling verbal attacks.
I often think that my pioneering work on using performing arts as a tool to sooth young people from the trauma of domestic abuse brings with it a risk of antagonism.
What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business?
Women are inherently creative, passionate and empathic. At their best they work well together to see the human side of situations and react and inspire change for the greater good. So many women are now entrepreneurs and the shift is increasing at a fast pace.
In 2019, “32.37% of UK businesses were owned by women, highlighting a remarkable shift from four years ago when just 17% of founders were female” (UENI’s 2020 report on gender and small business).
What do you think men offer in particular to the world of business?
I am not a big fan of labels, or putting people in boxes and people can identify as many definitions including gender fluidity but traditionally, men in business can offer a pragmatic problem solving approach and an objective eye to counterbalance and protect the humanitarian goals of women.
My husband and I work together and we often ask each other's opinion with regards to issues, even though the decision is ultimately mine, I like to view his perspective that often gives an alternative pragmatic consideration. Whether this is a more male or female characteristic, I am not sure, but ultimately listening to each other and giving mutual respect, I feel is of paramount importance in all business relationships.
Is gender important when it comes to success in business?
I do not think it is. All humans possess interesting and valid qualities. It is an individual’s passion and love for their business and its values that is the secret to success, and always being a person of integrity and not being afraid to stand up for what you believe in.
Can you name any woman in your organisation or in the wider business community that you admire?
Laura Barnes – director of RPA Rapport Community Interest Company. Laura runs Rapport with me. She has taken it to the next level creatively and has such a passion for young people’s rights and feelings. As a facilitator for OCD UK she also brings valuable expertise and insight into a variety of mental health issues. As a mother of two amazing young women, she is also inspirational as a leader of future generations of strong, powerful women.
Can you name a man in your organisation you admire?
Paul Da Silva-Adams – my husband and co cirector of Revolution Performing Arts (RPA). I admire Paul’s strength of conviction and his talent not only as a person who brings people together and develops them individually but he has also taught me how to look after my team and be a better manager. He is also an extremely talented musician and is an inspiration to so many young people.
Do you think women who start their own business experience more challenges than men?
Yes I do. If you have children often when they are younger the onus falls on women to balance the childcare and their business passions. I think this is often because society still has an expectation of this. Organisations where men work in a traditional work environment often lack a flexibility to childcare and the expectation is the female in the relationship will be the constant childcare.
We addressed this at Revolution Performing Arts as Paul gave up his career for us to work together. This also made a more cohesive and balanced family dynamic at home.
What do you think about the gender pay gap?
I think it is ridiculous in this day and age that there is still a gender pay gap between men and women. We work to always provide equality of opportunity at RPA. There should be no gender pay gap but we also actively work to ensure there is no discrepancy pay gap between ages and disabilities at the same time. I do believe that as time moves on and more women are in positions of influence this will fade. It is shameful that we STILL have to explain to our daughters that this is still relevant today!
What do you think about the International Women’s Day movement?
International Women’s Day is still necessary. Our history still shows that from a place of being property owned by men, through the suffragette movement and on to today, we still need to celebrate our sisterhood, shine a light on the inequalities and ensure our young people feel strong and empowered enough to ensure there is equality for all and also for our future selves.
RPA prides itself on being a ‘family first’ business. Anyone who works with us, knows this and in return we have become a family style business where every member of our team is treated as such. These are the differences that make it easier and more rewarding for women, in fact all people, to work in business. It is up to us to make a difference. No one else is going to do it for us.
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