9th March 2017

International Women’s Day Ponderings & Pontifications

(Warning: this blog contains an excessive use of superlatives – those with allergies to gushing should change the channel or look away now.)

Confession: I struggle with International Women’s Day. There, I said it. I don’t consider myself a businesswoman but a businessperson. And this isn’t because I don’t love being a woman – I fully do. Women rock! They are awesome-sauce (a phrase I learnt this week) and smashing it (another phrase I learnt this week – yes I know I’m late to this particular party!).

And I really struggle with people who use days like this to berate men as a collective, as if it were possible to categorise people by their gender – talk about not practising what you preach. Oh, the irony.

And yet I’ve been involved in this year’s IWD more than ever before, via the superb Northern Voices programme – a scheme set up by Tech North, through which we’ve spent days in Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool training seven amazing women in tech in each city how to speak to the media and on platforms, so that we can help address the gender imbalance of role models and encourage more females into our amazing sector; via the superb Northern Power Women awards; the Manchester Evening News’ Inspirational Women list and also the FSB’s Women in Business event – phew!

I must have been very lucky in my life as I’ve never experience sexism – or maybe I’m just so obtuse or naive that I’ve never noticed it happening to me – which is why I’m constantly surprised when I hear the stories of ladies who have. Genuine stories ranging from ‘make me a cuppa, love’, through promotions passed by, to extreme, spiteful power plays to keep women ‘in their place’.

And yet I still don’t believe that focusing on the negatives is what IWD should be about – it should, in my opinion, be about celebrating GREAT women, the GREAT things they do and, yes, the GREAT men and women who promote and support them.

So, with this in mind, I wanted to flag up a few examples of these great people to demonstrate my point – and, controversially in a blog about IWD I’m going to start with a man – ooh you little trouble-maker, you…

  • If Google took human form it would be Chris Maguire, editor of Business Cloud, former editor of North West Business Insider and all round great bloke. At a networking event with Chris at your side, click on any person in the room and he’ll tell you not only who they are but what’s brilliant about them, all in a perfectly-formed journalistic sound bite. Chris is an unselfish connector of people – and he also tells me I’m thin, which works for me every time!
  • Angie Robinson, CEO of Manchester Central and a brilliant, bloody clever lady, who, when Tangerine was teeny weeny and she was CEO of Manchester Chamber, took us under her wing, for no reason other than she could and doesn’t realise how much to this day she helped us get started
  • Emma Degg, who last week became CEO of one of the most powerful organisations in our region – the North West Business Leadership Team. With a brain the size of Jupiter, Emma is one of those superb ladies who focuses on other people, bringing them to the fore in order to effect change
  • My business partner and friend, Sarah Halton, without whom Tangerine would be the noisiest, smallest comms agency in Potato Wharf (I’m the gob, she’s the one who makes things happen), as well we my two MDs, Sam Gregory (B2B) and Mary Harding (Consumer) – both brilliant, clever and creative ladies who’re better at this craft than I’ve ever been
  • The absolute force of nature that is Simone Roche, who I’ve known literally days but who’s bashed into my life with the biggest ‘TA DAH!’ I’ve ever seen and impacts so many lives with her Northern Power Women programme and everything else she does – unbelievable energy and passion – exhausting!
  • My brilliant, gorgeous girl friends – every one of whom could be a blog subject in and of themselves
  • And EVERY lady I met this and last week via Northern Voices – who also taught me my new phrases: awesome-sauce and smashing it!

I could go on (and on) (and on, and on) but I need to honour my own rule of blogs being short – sorry!

The best woman who ever lived – my Mum (our mums are always the best women who ever lived, right?) – used to say: “Sandra – you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

And what she meant was it’s better to be kind. To work with people, rather than against them. To focus on the good. This is how change happens.

So, while 8th March 2018 should be all about celebrating women and the bloody brilliant things we do, maybe 9th March 2018 could be about celebrating men and all the bloody brilliant things they do?

And that’s all I have to say about that. (Private joke for Northern Voices ladies – how not to finish a speech. Or a blog).

Sandy Lindsay MBE, Chair, Tangerine & The Juice Academy