This year, the International Women’s Day theme is #BetterForBalance. Recognising women, their contribution, what they achieve and how they bring balance within our society – more specifically in our community – is always something to celebrate. In May 2017 during the Fireside Chat with Professor Daniella Tilbury she said that women provide an alternative way of taking organisations and businesses forward, and without this alternative way of thinking, her opinion is that they will lose out.

It is a fact that the number of female-owned firms and startups is on the rise, which is having a positive effect on global revenue generated. A report commissioned by American Express showed women launched 1,821 net new U.S. businesses a day from 2017 to 2018; the number of women-owned businesses has increased nearly 3,000% since 1972. In fact, the Small Business Association reports that women own slightly more than 8 million small businesses, according to their 2018 Small Business Profile. There are various reasons for this; some of them are educational attainment, global legislation and mentorship which encourage women into entrepreneurship and not stereotypical paths. In conclusion, Women are a big demographic in business.

An initiative to support this was launched by The Ministry of Equality on September 25th 2018 with the Women’s Mentorship Programme. The programme begins with a pilot scheme with a duration of three months. Mentors and mentees are invited to register their interest at equality@gibraltar.gov.gi. When we mentor, we identify hidden talent. Teaching allows young women who come from different circumstances the opportunity to apply hard work and drive – things that can’t be seen on a CV. It gives those who may not come from affluent families with deep pockets a chance to go above their lesser-known degrees. When we take the time to teach, we give qualities like gusto and grit a chance to win out over pedigree and polish. Lastly, we create a work culture with varying perspectives and knowledge, which is crucial to creating well-rounded work. So not only is mentoring essential, but also for other female entrepreneurs it is important to hire smart women and then nurture the underdog who shows potential.

Some of our local bodies, for example the Financial Services Commission, have adopted an equal and diverse work culture. The GFSC is a forward-thinking and equal opportunities employer. For them, a diverse workforce brings great value to an organisation, promoting growth in skills and talent, and creating a work environment that allows employees to feel confident in their ability and achieve their best. Over 55% of the GFSC’s workforce is made up of women, with 80% of the senior management team and 63% of the management team consisting of women.

Equality is at the heart of their work culture and aims to cater for their employees’ differing needs. The HR policies have recently been updated to allow for flexible working arrangements and recognising the importance of finding a balance between spending time with friends and family and having a successful career. They offer ‘Shared Parental Leave’ that provides flexibility and choice to new parents – the policy also covers surrogacy and adoption. Supporting their employees, and prioritising diversity and equality, provides the GFSC with a happy and effective workforce. This in turn helps them achieve their mission to deliver world-class financial services regulation in an effective and efficient manner.

On a more personal level there are the views of prominent women in our community. Nyreen Llamas stepped out of a secure legal career to lead as the Chief Strategy Officer of MoPlay, an online sports betting and gaming operation newly licensed in Gibraltar and with a live offering since August 2018.

Before joining MoPlay, she was a partner at Hassans International Law Firm, and has advised on many aspects of corporate, commercial and private client work. She believes that the aspiration to have a work/life balance is not the right way to approach life as a working mother. Nyreen believes that it is better to take life full on, accept that not absolutely everything will be done perfectly, but to try your best at absolutely everything you do professionally or personally, enjoy it and don’t take life or yourself too seriously! If you enjoy your life, however busy it is, you have a healthy perspective on the future and balance in your horizon. Her advice: “It is very important as a working mother, to find something to do (even if it’s 30 minutes every other day) where you are not working and not a mother – either a sport or hobby being recommended.”

Another personal perspective from a woman in the hospitality business – Kerrianne Massetti:

“I am a working mother, or a tired coffee addict, who now spends life rushing around trying to sometimes type basic English as I have not slept 4 hours straight in over a month. After 6 months since being classified as a ‘working mum’ (which I sometimes still don’t quite believe) I am finally getting into the swing of things after an overwhelming start. There was the guilt of leaving my baby, but then again, it is nice being at my desk interacting with clients and not singing The “The Wheels on the Bus” 1000 times a day. The key to my sanity is my flexibility at work and a great support system at home. I am lucky enough to have a partner who is supportive of me growing on a professional level as well as a great family unit. I believe it’s important for a woman to have a great network to be able to develop within her career, which is why I wanted to launch an exciting project on the Sunborn. In conjunction with One Media & Events and Women in Business, we will host a forum dinner for International Women’s Day this March, celebrating diversity and people who are succeeding in their jobs, and inspiring others to achieve their goals.”

For more information about this event contact: kerrianne.massetti@sunborngibraltar.com or call 200 16939.