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TGt Meets...Sara Witham, Founder & Owner of Evil Empire - IWD Special
By Sara Witham who runs Evil empire marketing & events, based in Swindon. Evil empire gives small and medium sized businesses all the benefits of having a marketing department at their convenience, without the associated challenges of employing someone. From strategy through to planning and implementation, we’re an ethical agency providing a low cost service that will achieve your marketing objectives.
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 would choose to challenge unexpected or last minute childcare. In my personal experience since having a family, it’s expected that if any time off is to be taken to care for dependents it generally falls to the mother. Men seem to be met with an unfavourable response in many industries should they need to share unexpected time off if both parents are working. It’s definitely not all workplaces of course but it does seem that Mum is expected to take on that carer role.
Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender?
For me it’s really just the ‘default carer’ situation. I’ve experienced this first hand many times and have also seen friends in the same situation. Women are generally expected to put their work on hold to care for children at short notice.
Have you during your career ever challenged a situation where you felt a woman (even it’s yourself) has been disadvantaged by gender?
I’ve not experienced anything like this in my career fortunately and if I did I would certainly make my feelings known!
What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business?
I think we are great multitaskers and we lead with empathy and passion. Most of the career women I know wouldn’t stand for inequality or sitting in a role that made them unhappy so they would have the strength to exit another great quality we possess! We are lucky to live in a country where the issue of equality is being challenged and is constantly being worked on and improved. We live and work in a time that’s far ahead of our mothers' experiences in the workplace yet we can’t be complacent.
Is gender important when it comes to success in business?
Not at all, success is based on hard work and how you treat people throughout your life. If you’re determined, hard working and ethical, man or woman you’ll always have success in the workplace and life in general.
Can you name up to three women in business or in your organisation or in the wider business community that you admire? Why?
Emma Carter, Smarter Media - I’ve worked with Emma for nearly ten years now and we went from being colleagues, to her becoming my manager in my last role before I started up. As you can imagine working closely together had its ups and downs but throughout we have always remained friends. I respect Emma immensely for the way she treats people, her honesty, ambition and great advice. I also like the way she pretends to hate Christmas in front of everyone but secretly loves it.
Liz Ledger, Total Guide to - I’m not just saying this because I’m on Total Swindon! Liz has been my friend for over ten years now and from the moment we first met I knew we would get on. She’s driven, hard working and caring and has built her reputation in the local business community on treating people kindly and being genuine. I’ve seen her business grow and evolve hugely since start up and she’s been the driving force through it all managing a team of great people and keeping up with changes in the market. Now she has two small children and she is still smashing it out, not to mention her hardcore fitness regime on top of all that! Definitely goals right there!
Nataley Fryer, Smarter Media - I’ve known Nataley since her radio days and we’ve always in some way managed to work together, which I think shows you something about the type of person she is. Nataley is very much about relationships and helping each other out in business, something she is excellent at. She is always thinking about how to help not only her clients but also the wider community, raising money for charities and giving up her own time for others. Her customers love her and she works super hard to make sure their products deliver.
Do you think women who start their own business experience more challenges than men? Can you explain why you think this?
All the women I know who run their own businesses haven’t experienced this luckily and neither have I. I think starting up a business no matter what your gender is tough and full of highs and lows but ultimately if you are prepared to put the effort in (and work some crazy hours sometimes) it’s the best thing you’ll ever do.
What do you think about the gender pay gap?
The percentages have come down immensely over the years but of course we would all like to see it at zero and we need to keep on working hard towards that. For under 40s the gap is close to zero so it shows that the fight has had a positive effect for them. But there’s still much more work to do.
One issue I have come across throughout my career is equal pay, having seen sometimes quite large disparities in wages between employees doing the same job.
What do you think about the International Women’s Day movement?
It’s absolutely necessary, its about women fighting for parity and although that won’t happen for an extremely long time yet we shouldn’t be complacent. So many people both men and women have put heart and soul into this movement, just because things are vastly improved to when it started we can’t throw away all the hard work that has been put in for over 150 years.
For more information visit www.evilempire.co.uk
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