International Women’s Day – Inspire Inclusion

Mar 8, 2024 | News

For international women’s day, I was asked by JQ Modern to introduce myself, what my business does, my role and what I think are the most significant barriers to female leadership.

I’m Samantha Hulson, Managing Director and Executive Coach at Birch-HR. 

I’m a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute and Development (CIPD), which is an endorsement of strategic abilities, people expertise and business impact. Chartered Fellow shows commitment to inspiring and shaping the future of the people profession.

I coach and mentor CEO’s, Directors, aspiring leaders, business owners and HR professionals. I’ve had thought leadership articles published in People Management, Real Business and Schools Week.

Birch-HR provide comprehensive cost-effective HR advisory and consultancy services to businesses, education and charity sectors. This includes professional advice and support on disciplinary, grievance, absence, capability, redundancies, exit strategies, policies and procedures.

We have a wonderful passionate talent pool of highly experienced HR professionals providing responsive support with effective workplace investigations, mediation, leadership development, DiSC (personality style profiles) and facilitating innovative training. I lead the performance of HR, the business and provide client support on complex leadership and people challenges up to Executive Board level.  Our services are flexible either annual agreement or day rate.

Whilst women have made strides over the last few years, they still have to override a myriad of challenges, such as higher work standards for women, being treated equally in the workplace and often balancing the lion share of family responsibilities with a challenging leadership career.

The Rose Review 2023 confirmed that less than 1% of UK venture funding goes to all-female team, so fair access to funding is certainly a challenge for women for any start up business, including female entrepreneurs. Notably, whilst women on average, received higher performance ratings than their male colleagues, this resulted in women being 14% less likely to be promoted than their male colleagues (source MIT Sloan).

We do see examples of outdated mindsets, some still find it hard to see a woman as a leader and success can be attributed to been lucky, rather than ability. I’ve seen several fantastic women leaders, get overlooked for promotion and recognition in the public and private sectors.  With barriers, there are always solutions, such as adapting key strategies to open up as many leadership opportunities for women as possible. By developing effective communication at all levels, fine tuning those networking and leadership development skills, so you stand out.  Working with a group of women, we have developed a high impact leadership development programme and people management training focussing on Ei and leading high performing teams.

It’s so important we champion other women, such as mentoring, coaching, validation and invigorating their individual passion and self-assurance to succeed as a credible impactful leader or female entrepreneur. 

Be confident, and with a realisation that there will be a small minority of people who may try to take you off your game. Focus on showing what you can achieve and build a track record of positive organisation and performance results to breakdown prejudices and barriers.

It’s ok as a female leader to take risks, know what you want, have a voice and overcome perfectionism. I’ve taken plenty of risks, most play out with very successful outcomes and some I learn from. Many of my girlfriends talk about going for promotion or setting up and leading their own business, but lack the courage, belief and cash flow to do so. I will do my own part in supporting them to succeed, overcome their fears and any barriers.

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