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TGt Meets...Nicki Kinton, Owner & Director of Confident Cashflow - IWD Special
By Nicki Kinton, owner &dDirector of Confident Cashflow based in Swindon, who on a mission to improve the survival rates of small businesses by giving them confidence in, and control of, their cash flow.
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 #choosetochallenge the notion that a confident woman, one who engages in self-promoting behaviour, can be perceived as pushy, aggressive or arrogant but the same quality in a man makes him a natural leader, expert or influencer in his field.
In most western societies, the stereotypical view of women is more nurturing and interdependent than men, who are viewed as more ambitious and independent. This sometimes means female business owners can face invisible barriers when it comes to being seen as a technical expert and a successful business owner.
Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender?
I think I’ve been very lucky and not had much personal experience of inequality, except for the perception I’ve outlined above. I spent many years in a managerial role and felt I was treated equally in the main. The only thing I found uncomfortable was that I was regularly asked when was I was going to start a family, after I got married, but I didn’t notice my male colleagues being asked the same question! I have seen inequality manifest the other way round though where male managers have treated underperforming female staff with kid gloves for fear of accusations of sexism and bullying.
Have you during your career ever challenged a situation where you felt a woman (even it’s yourself) has been disadvantaged by gender?
I once inherited a team of credit controllers and there was a considerable salary disparity between male and female team members, as well as the usual disparity caused by more recent hires. I put forward a proposal to address the imbalance and had to fight hard to get the budget to create parity in the team's salaries.
What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business?
Without wanting to fall into the stereotyping trap, women are, typically, more aware of the impact of actions on other people. They are more intuitive and tend to read non-verbal clues better than men.
What do you think men offer in particular to the world of business?
Men, on the whole, tend to be more action orientated than women and can act more quickly and decisively.
Is gender important when it comes to success in business?
I think gender is irrelevant when it comes to success in business, or it should be. What’s important is surrounding yourself with the right people, of either gender, that will support you, challenge you and keep you accountable.
Can you name any women in business you admire? Why?
Jemma Brown of OHM Clothing and OHM Charities – I know Jemma through our mutual passion for music but Jemma is equally passionate about creating fantastic merchandise for charities. Jemma doesn’t wait for the charities to get in touch with her, she comes up with an idea and just goes for it. The success of her recent project, La! for the Terrence Higgins Trust, is a testament to her creativity and dedication to a good cause.
Diane Banister of Intelligent Dialogue – Diane delivers excellent training in what has typically been a male dominated environment, i.e. Sales training, and in male dominated sectors too, such as plan hire. She is considered to be one of the best in her field, working with some pretty big names, and has worked tirelessly to build a successful business. I admire her commitment and I’m in awe of her expertise in the areas of sales and customer service.
Can you name any men in the wider business community you admire? Why?
Paul Holmes of PCH Business Support – Paul is probably one of the most switched on and lovely men you will ever meet. He can look at a business and come up with literally hundreds of things that can be done to make it more efficient and profitable. He is widely respected and adds values in whatever he does. He’s a fantastic associate, mentor and friend.
Do you think women who start their own business experience more challenges than men? Can you explain why you think this?
I’m probably going to be very unpopular here but I think that some women will say it’s harder for them to start a business as a woman rather than accept that it’s their choices that have created the challenges.
Every business owner will face obstacles and have priorities that will dictate how much time, money and energy they can put into growing their business.
What do you think about the gender pay gap?
The fact that it still exists is appalling and we have a long way to go to establish salary parity. However I do believe that parity is not just about paying men and women the same pay, it’s broader and more complicated than that.
Having managed teams it’s really difficult to tell someone that they don’t deserve to be paid more just because they’ve been doing the role five years longer, that quality of performance has to be a factor.
This can muddy the waters in establishing gender pay parity, either genuinely or because it’s easy to hide behind. The inequality comes where women are required to prove the quality of their performance when men are not.
What do you think about the International Women’s Day movement?
As with all things, there are those that have jumped on the gender equality argument to further their own agenda’s and to undermine men but, sadly, I believe that it’s still necessary to generate awareness and always will be. It’s important that we recognise that women don’t have to fit into a stereotype that is perpetuated by outdated beliefs.
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