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Tags: blog, Career Guidance, women-in-the-workplace

In our recentChampioning Women Leaders Series, we took a look into a gender disparity in female versus male business leaders. To discuss the challenges faced by women leaders and the benefits women can bring to leadership roles we were joined by several female CEOs. Including Victoria Bond, CEO of Space HR, a successful and fast-growing employee engagement agency.

Q)    Hi Victoria, tell us a little bit about yourself and your company

" So Space HR is a specialist employee engagement agency, and everything we do is about turning up performance in businesses through highly engaged teams. Engaged teams are where employees are really happy and really aligned to your business goals. And at the heart of what we do is a tech platform that we’ve built that goes and surveys employees and gathers employee feedback and insight via WhatsApp. The work that I do is with businesses to understand that insight and that feedback and turn that into action and drive change and improvement in businesses." 

Q)    What was your path to CEO?

"I have got a Masters in HR and I’ve always been in HR as a profession, right since I left University. I’ve done the traditional generalist HR career path, so Advisor, Business Partner, Head of, Director etc. Spent quite a lot of my early career in international, big corporate organisations then I moved into scale-up tech business. And also did some mergers and acquisitions working there and I guess along the way have caught the entrepreneurial bug and that’s where I found myself setting up Space HR and establishing my own business."

Q)    What challenges have you faced as a result of your gender?

" For me, the main challenge that I suspect happens with female business owners versus male business owners, is this need to establish additional credibility much earlier on. I think that there is still stereotyping that happens around female business owners or female leaders versus male leaders, there’s an additional credibility sometimes that my gender has to overcome in order to have the same conversations that are probably gifted much earlier on to males. But that’s not a bad thing, that just means that we have to be sharper and better and it makes me a better business leader I think, being a female. "

Q)    How do you think we can encourage more female leaders as a society?

“I think this is something that I could talk about all day, but I will reel off some of the things that are top of my mind on this. There’s a real point around flexible working becoming more of the norm, around more cost effective access to childcare and that’s really around preventing women from coming out of the workforce which often happens when they have decided to start a family.

Then I think those who are in their careers, it's about taking the gender pay gap more seriously, it’s about getting much more serious about diversity of boards, and also looking at the diversity of investment funds. There’s a real stark statistics on the number of female-owned businesses that get investment versus male investment. I think really we need to look at that, maybe it’s a piece of legislation, maybe it’s some kind of incentive, I don’t know but I think there are a number of different ways that we are baking inequality into the whole system really.

It starts even with our children and some of those gender stereotypes that are everywhere you look. I’ve got young children and they literally are everywhere, and that follows our females through school and into the workplace, and it all kind of feeds into that gender gap when it comes to leadership.”

Q)    What advice would you give to other female CEOs and aspiring CEOs?

"Well, there’s a really short answer which is be brave. Don’t let being the minority in your industry hold you back, just go and do it anyway.  

The longer version is, actually because we are the minority in a number of industries, I’ve personally have found that’s created more opportunities for me than anything. Really small example, it would take be 2 minutes online to go and find a number of really fabulous female-lead, female-only networking events that only those who identify as female will have access into. Whilst I wish that they weren’t needed, whilst they are needed and whilst they exist you may as well go and take advantage of them. Go and seek out the additional opportunities that being a female leader presents to you rather than letting it slow you down."

Thanks again to Victoria for participating in our Championing Women Leaders Series and offering such a balanced and insightful account of her experiences setting up a business within the HR and technology sector, and inspiring others to go and do the same.

To gain more insight and inspiration from other progressive leaders like Victoria, read our blogHow We Can Champion Women Leaders’.