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Jane Dalton, Groundswell Innovation

Jane Dalton Groundswell Innovation

Lancashire needs more female role models

Lancashire has always had its fair share of female role models. Edith Rigby for example, described as a Preston resident, suffragette, arsonist and founder of a night school for women in Preston. I wonder which title she was most proud of?

That’s one of the Lancashire stories I know, but what about the rest? What about the role models lying in plain sight today?

Hilary Clinton has written a new book just in time for Christmas, about ‘gutsy women’ you’ve never heard of. She didn’t conjure the characters out of thin air. They already existed. Invisible in plain sight.  I think that most of the women in the book didn’t really think of themselves as heroines, role models or in any way special. They were just getting on with the job in hand.

Therein lies the problem, gutsy women are doing great things all around us all the time. Yet when someone says name five inspiring entrepreneurs, how many of the answers offered will be female?

Speaking up and standing out

I get it. We’re from Lancashire. We get on with the job and don’t like to shout about how great we are.  No need to brag.

But by not speaking up or standing out, we send a clear message all the same. Our silence says ‘we have no female role models’. It says women in our county aren’t working as directors or in senior management positions or founding their own companies. We aren’t contributing much and we don’t need to be taken seriously.

Is that really what we want people following behind us to hear? Our daughters and our granddaughters? Shouldn’t we be paving the way and making it easier for them to be heard, just as Edith Rigby made life easier for us?

I’d like to celebrate the stories of gutsy women in Lancashire who are ‘just’ working in the family business. Perhaps responsible for operational efficiency or for customer service but ‘just’ doing their job.

I’d like to hear what success looks like for Lancashire women in business. I mean success as defined you, no standard yardstick.

Share your stories

So come on, tell me what you are most proud of. Email, tweet or call.  Let’s fill the air with stories.

While I wait for those stories, can I ask every Lancashire woman in business to join me in taking a few matters in to our own hands?

  • Let’s outlaw the word ‘just’ to describe our role in business
  • If we’re taking responsibility for delivering business goals, let’s take responsibility for some of the success too
  • Recognise that we are all role models. Think about the behaviours we naturally adopt. What messages are we sending out to the next generation?
  • Show support for women of our own age, not just the people coming up after us
  • Get comfortable with recognising the value of the contribution we make. Keep a diary of the moments that make you most proud
  • And let’s start to talk about our successes. It’s a great first step to shouting them from the roof tops

If you are a director of an established business in Lancashire that is growing nicely and quietly getting on with being productive, there is a programme of fully funded events happening next year that we think you will find interesting.

Jane Dalton has managed brand strategy and innovation projects for companies such as Unilever and Barclays over the past two decades before she established Groundswell Innovation in 2018. The organisation delivers the Two Zero: Female pilot and Jane is also a Lancashire board member for the Institute of Directors and volunteer brand director for Northern Power Women among others.

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