Today, 8th March, marks International Women’s Day 2023, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. The words equality and equity are often used interchangeably but they are different.
Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
The whole reason I decided to open this coworking space was in fact equity. I recognised that as women we have a specific set of barriers and challenges that we face along the entirety of the entrepreneurial journey. These challenges are outlined in The Rose Review. You can read about the barriers in this blog post I wrote.
I wanted to create a space where we could all work towards starting and growing businesses from an understanding that we do have these barriers, we should acknowledge them (instead of feeling like failures because of them), but we shouldn’t let them stop us!!
Instead, we need to come together and work out what we need to do to overcome them. I have tried to do this in the following ways:
1. Creating an environment that works for women
We operate solely on day passes. There is no minimum commitment and no tie-in. This is because we all know that as the primary caregivers in our communities, our time is limited and we have to juggle so many things. So we need to work flexibly.
2. Creating a supportive
Running a business whilst juggling caring responsibilities is no joke. Trying to do everything alone is exhausting. We often wear all the hats and convince ourselves we have to learn everything from scratch. But that is not the case. We can and should lean on one another.
We also need to surround ourselves with other people doing the things we want to do. You cannot be what you cannot see and we need more female entrepreneurs to be visible to inspire others to go for their dreams too. And finally, we need to build a network of contacts who may be able to help us advance or provide us with mentorship.
3. Providing a clear pathway
The 2023 Rose Review progress report and the recent Scottish Independent Review of Women in Entrepreneurship both highlight the lack of a clear pathway into entrepreneurship. Existing pathways rely on informal networks, which women are lacking, or that are inaccessible to women. I wanted to create a space where women could join at any stage of the entrepreneurial journey and I could signpost them to the resources and opportunities that could help them to advance. There is so much support available out there, but we don’t know about it and it is not joined up.
4. Access to funding
When I first opened, I didn’t think I would be able to help solve the finance and funding issue for our community. However, there is something I can do to help. I am committed to learning about the various funding opportunities out there, because they do exist, and then passing that information on to the community. I share details in my newsletters, and in our online slack membership and I even pressure women to apply…in the nicest possible way of course. You can read about the success stories of Claire and Nette.
5. Peer-to-peer coaching
The Rose Review states that women are more risk averse and have a perception that they are missing the skills and experience necessary to succeed. Hello imposter syndrome!! (We’ve been having an interesting discussion about whether or not imposter syndrome actually exists over in the slack membership. If you have never heard of it check out the Dunning-Kruger Effect).
But when women come together in community, we can help one another to overcome these barriers. We can rationalise the risks, plan to mitigate them, and help one another to take them. We can often see the skills, gifts, and talents of others better than we can see our own. So surrounding ourselves with women who can call out our genius and remind us of our brilliance is imperative.
Basically, equity is what we are pursuing here. Only by providing equity can we ever arrive at equality!!!
I’d love to know how you are embracing equity for International Women’s Day 2023. Do leave me a comment below.
Stacey Sheppard is the founder of The Tribe, a small community-driven coworking space in Totnes that caters to creative, growth-oriented female entrepreneurs by providing an inspiring working environment designed to foster collaboration, connection and community.