Some of you might remember that earlier in the year I wrote a Letter from the Editor in our global newsletter, about my old fire for environmental causes being rekindled by the amazing social entrepreneurs I had been interviewing. Speaking with truly awe inspiring women who were changing the world for the better had reignited my belief that I could too.
Since then, various things have been happening in my beloved adopted nation of Ecuador which have turned the smouldering embers of that fire into an intense blaze, prompting me to write this, my second personal article for The NextWomen, about an issue which has become very close to my heart.
Alyssa Jade McDonald-Baertl looks at the Frauenquote discussion in Germany, which proposes using skills as the voice for equality, rather than rights or ratios, and highlights two organisations at the forefront of the movement.
For background, if you want to put the diversity and women in business topic under a microscope, then Germany is the place to look at. Not like anywhere else in the world do you see a “demanded equality” like you do with the Frauenquote (Women’s Quota) in the land typically known for clear policy. If you’re state-side or UK oriented, you might not have heard mostly German-language focused arguments in the last two years which, in my opinion, represent the biggest uprising of gender topics since the bra was burned, and contraception pill became freely available in this country.
This exclusive interview with Neelie Kroes closes our 'Europe' theme in style!
Neelie Kroes is Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, a role which she has held since 2010.
Neelie's portfolio includes the information and communications technology (ICT) and telecommunications sectors. Her remit is to ensure trust and security for the Internet and new technologies; to ensure competitive communications, such as in the mobile roaming market; to build world-class European research and innovation in this sector; and above all getting every European digital, with access to fast broadband, so the Internet's impact can be maximised for our economy and society.
Since 2004, Neelie has worked for the European Commission as one of the 27 Commissioners working to maintain a peaceful and prosperous Europe. From 2004 to 2009, she was Competition Commissioner, responsible for ensuring a level playing field for business in Europe, and fair prices and wide choice for consumers.
Neelie's political career started on the Rotterdam Municipal Council, and in 1971 she was elected as a Member of the Dutch Parliament for the liberal VVD party. From 1982-1989 she served as Minister for Transport, Public Works and Telecommunication in the Netherlands.
From 1991-2000, Neelie served as President of Nyenrode University and on various company boards, including Lucent Technologies, Volvo, and P&O Nedlloyd. Neelie studied economics at Erasmus University before working there for six years as an Assistant Professor.
The NextWomen Europe Theme.
Lina Tsaltampasi tells us about the role of European Female Entrepreneurship Ambassadors; and profiles five Ambassadors who act as role models for girls and women across Europe.
Ambassador – a heavy title to carry on your shoulders for the rest of your life. Many times I wonder what I have done to deserve this honour, then I come back to myself and reply, “I have probably made it at one point or another”. I can’t help thinking about the day when I was attributed the title at a ceremony in December, 2010. But let’s start at the very beginning…
Sweden is a country each woman is proud to live in. Since I lived there for some years, I liked making a joke saying “men are struggling for their equal rights in Sweden!”.
Sweden is the perfect role model society where you have the husband staying home with children stating, “I have to stay home since my wife has a better career than me”. This is a dreaming society, and for me being Greek and raised traditionally (not by my family, but by society in general), this sounded like an alien concept. I adored the idea though….
The NextWomen Europe Theme
Global Entrepreneur Envoy is Madi Sharma’s latest venture, establishing a social enterprise which is an International web-portal that unites and recognises entrepreneurialism in all its forms, across all boundaries, and in all its guises; a single global portal for entrepreneurs, like-minded individuals and organisations that want to turn Ideas into action, promote sustainability and celebrate success.
The portal includes member pages, networks, databases, case studies, celebration, analysis, research and support for turning ideas to action - together.
Madi is a public speaker internationally, particularly in the field of entrepreneurship, diversity, gender balance and her passion for corporate social responsibility (CSR).
She speaks from personal experience gained from being a victim of domestic violence, a single parent and from establishing her first company from her kitchen at home. This grew to 2 factories and 35 staff, and for which she received the honour of Asian Woman of Achievement and UK’s Best Boss, along with being the fastest company to pass Investors in People.
Tina Amirtha looks at whether hiring a more flexible workforce is the key to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the Netherlands.
At one time, the phrase "going freelance" might have been something that you would have heard from a disgruntled colleague who had just been let go and was secretly plotting to take all of her ex-boss's best clients.
Now, freelancing is a regular phenomenon, no matter in what part of the world you live. (Check out this infographic.) What was once a synonym for being unemployed is now a valid occupation. In a place like the Netherlands, where the national discussion is searching for ways to stimulate innovation in the economy, this is a good thing.
Just how can the Dutch business climate foster entrepreneurship and innovation? A good answer is: hire more freelancers.
In 2010, there was a slew of articles in the international press which questioned the Dutch female work ethic and depicted women in The Netherlands as part time workers, if they worked at all. Tina Amirtha looks at whether the coverage was accurate.
A few years ago, Dutchwomen got a lot of flak for not working so much. Suddenly, the entire feminist bloc of the West knew that the Dutchwoman, if she worked at all, commonly worked part-time.
There was an article in Slate, where the journalist Jessica Olien presented her observations of apathetic Dutch attitudes towards work, especially among its women.
Coming from her brief sojourn in the country as an expat, her examination seemed to propel a mini burst of commotion in the media.
A blog post on The Economist tried to further solidify the reasons for which the average Dutch female did not want to work so much in the 2000s. From citing lower salaries in the Netherlands as compared to the US to positing these women enjoyed the power of wielding their inconvenient part-time work schedules over their bosses’ heads, no explanation seemed to get at the core of the issue.
The new economy suggests that if traditional debt funding sources are available, they are in very economical amounts, if indeed at all!
Woe betide anyone whose business has gone out of favour with the financial markets, i.e. retail, construction and recruitment, and if you are displaying even the slimmest of declines in your performance, then prepare yourself for a fight to keep what you have, never mind acquiring further cash.
All the UK high street main lenders have rolled up their shutters to new lends, except for the historically conservative Co-Op and Clydesdale (Yorkshire) Banks, who are taking on some new business, albeit with tough covenants and high interest rates.
Where any lend is being considered, protracted timescales are the norm, as credit committees cover their backs - and the rest! Due diligence is more thorough than ever, with even seemingly robust deals being aborted at the last moment.
The new economy, therefore, requires new, fresh thinking for an entrepreneur to maximise available cash.
Guest article by Gene Miller, COO of Families United in Educational Leadership (FUEL). Part of The Next Women Social Entrepreneurship Theme.
It’s not often that one can say this about a job, but I feel truly blessed to be working with Families United in Educational Leadership (FUEL). From the day I stepped through the door, it has been a thrilling (though not always easy) ride. I truly believe that FUEL is making a positive difference in the lives of many low-income families and I am delighted to be part of it.
To understand why I am so excited about being here, you need to know a bit about my background and a bit about FUEL. By my early 30s (hard to believe that was about 25 years ago!), I had a successful career as an executive vice president in the finance industry. In banking, I experienced the excitement of big sales and large-scale transaction closings. When my bank was consolidated with another one, I was able to parlay my experience into a series of senior-level consulting assignments that allowed for more flexibility while raising my three children during the following 14 years.
The EU is not a gender issue. Women’s life styles and freedoms are more influenced by circumstances, culture and opportunity than whether or not we remain part of the European Union.