Business Women’s Day takes place on September 22nd: a special celebration of the vital role women play in the world of business. Whilst Business Women’s Day started as an American holiday, it’s now acknowledged all over the world, so we wanted to blog about this important movement – and pay tribute to the amazing women who work for Cherry Godfrey.
What is Business Women’s Day?
Business Women’s Day marks the founding of the American Business Women’s Association, which was established in 1949 by four prominent Kansas City figures. The only male, Hilary Bufton Jr., later wrote: ‘[Women] had gained tremendous business knowledge during World War II, through necessity, and I felt a new organization for all businesswomen was needed.’ The organization is still going strong today, and champions the following mission statement: ‘to bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition.’
In modern times, Business Women’s Day celebrates not only the inception of the American Business Women’s Association, but also the global contributions and accomplishments of billions of women in the workforce. It also focuses on ways to bring more equality into the workforce, providing insights into the platforms and opportunities by which women might help themselves (and others) progress professionally. In recent years, it’s become an important networking day, with various international events taking place to connect a diverse range of businesswomen.
Business Women’s Day: Celebrating the Achievements of Women
Whilst, undoubtedly, there is still work to be done when it comes to levelling the playing field, the accomplishments of women over the last few centuries have been extraordinary. Here are a few key dates from the 20th century onwards:
1911: International Women’s Day was marked for the first time.
1914: The start of WW1 – during which over two million women took on roles that were traditionally performed by men.
1902 - 1948: Women win voting rights. Australia was the first notable democracy to pass legislation giving many women the right to vote; Europe followed, with Finland being the first to grant legislation in 1906, with the UK in 1919 (for women over 30) and France in 1944. The United States passed their own laws - the 19th Amendment - in 1920. In 1948, voting rights for women were introduced into international law by the United Nations' Human Rights Commission (which was chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt).
1949: Business Women’s Day was marked in the US for the first time.
1968: In the United Kingdom, women at Dagenham’s Ford car factory went on strike over equal pay. This brave action led to the passing of the UK’s landmark Equal Pay Act 1970.
1997: Marjorie Scardino became the first-ever female FTSE CEO.
2001: Clara Furse became the first female chief executive of the London Stock Exchange.
2005/2019: The value of women’s enterprise hit the spotlight. Speaking at the National Dialogue for Entrepreneurship in Washington DC, Chief Executive of the Small Business Service Martin Wyn Griffith stated that: ‘A pound invested in developing women’s enterprise provides a greater return on investment than a pound invested in developing male-owned enterprise.’ Indeed, the recent Rose Review (HM Treasury, 2019) found that up to £250 billion of new value could be added to the UK economy alone if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as UK men. In addition, ‘even if the UK were to achieve the same average share of women entrepreneurs as best-in-class peer countries, this would add £200 billion of new value to the UK economy’.
2016: Studies documented a boom in female-led business. An estimated 163 million women had started – or were currently running - new businesses in 74 economies around the world.
2022: Recent statistics show that over 43% of the entrepreneurs in the world (252 out of 582 million) are female.
Female-driven success is a generational process: through small businesses and corporate trailblazing alike, women set powerful examples for the younger generation, paving the way for them to become leaders themselves. With this in mind, we asked Cherry Godfrey Director Hazel Turvey to share some thoughts on women in business; why it’s important to celebrate their achievements; and her advice to other women just starting out in their careers.
Business Women’s Day: Q&A with Cherry Godfrey Director Hazel Turvey
Hello Hazel, and thanks for making the time to speak with us in advance of Business Women’s Day! First of all, we’d love to know why you think Business Women’s Day is worth celebrating – what makes it special?
The day is a celebration of women’s achievements, it helps to encourage and inspire all women and recognise their incredible contribution in the workplace.
What advice do you have for women who are just starting their careers? What would you like them to know?
Every one of us has the potential to succeed. There are many industries which are male dominated and this can be intimidating for a young female but just believe in yourself, work hard, never stop learning and the opportunities will come your way regardless of gender.
Why do we need more women in business?
I believe the more diverse a workplace is, the more likely it is to be successful. Balance is key. Naturally, females and males are likely to have different qualities, and a combination of these qualities will give a business the best chance to thrive.
What’s the most important piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
There is no such thing as failure, only experience. Failures are greatest learning opportunities. If you have never failed, you’re possibly not trying hard enough.