Business Awards – beneficial or harmful?

Photo credit Mrs Photoshoot at the Women’s Business Conference and Awards 2022

We are worth it!

It’s that time of year when the Women’s Business Club Awards are taking nominations to recognise the achievements of stand-out women in their businesses and profession. It is a wonderful event, and our sponsors always see as much benefit for their brand awareness by supporting such talented women in business.

Upon inviting many in my network to begin nominating, I have received some negativity on the awards. At this point, I would like to point out that the Women’s Business Club do not exclude men or set out to bash men in any way. We invite men to nominate for a Man of the Year award so we can express thanks to the wonderful men who support equal rights and equity for women.

A recent invite I sent to a man asking to nominate a woman he thought deserved recognition for their achievements was met with the response, ‘So you support discrimination?’

Perplexed, I asked who our awards were discriminating against, to which I received a very long, uninvited explanation on how legislation enacted to make it mandatory for a friend of theirs to appoint 50% of women to a company’s board was compulsory discriminatory against women. This man let me know he had appointed people to leadership roles for over 45 years based on merit and merit alone with ZERO BIAS (as was also explained to me without invitation) in their methodology. In their well-prepared opinion, a women’s business award works against women and not in their favour ergo, Women’s Business Conference & Awards discriminates and devalues women.

Although I agree that tokenism is never helpful for advancing underrepresented individuals or the company as a business case for diversity, I cannot agree that the conference and awards, built around the sole mission of uplifting and empowering women, could be discriminatory and diminishing to women. My response was simple and graceful.

“How many of the women you have appointed to leadership roles and executive roles over the years feel that winning a women’s business award discriminates against them?”

Side-stepping the question and flipping the attention back on themselves, it was made clear that this individual had no interest in the opinion of the women and their point of view on the awards. Rather, I was infomred how he was a part of creating the women’s success that they were proud of and, more shockingly, pointing out how ‘Hollywood made their female stars’. Now, who is devaluing women? After it was assumed I had come around to his way of thinking, I moved on.

We must choose

During this conversation, it occurred to me that there was no merit given to what the Women’s Business Conference & Awards achieves for women, nor how the women who nominate and win these awards feel. This was the opinion of a man who has spent many years deciding and controlling who wins and who loses in the corporate world. Statistically, we know that women are often the losers, and the glass ceiling or glass cliff is a real issue despite progressively moving to a more equitable world.

How, I ask, can this true equity happen when those who do not understand the challenges we face make decisions and choices of what is best for us? You know what they say about assumptions, right?

Being directly challenged on the mission to improve the business world for women by a man telling me they know what is better for women is a prime example of a barrier women face. So, what should I do? Concede that the mission is bad for women; do I accept I know nothing about what women want and that the awards discriminate and devalue women?

First, I will do what should have been done by and ask how women feel about our Awards since they are the ones who are directly impacted. This has been asked and answered on many occasions before now, but for the sake of continuity:

Women, do you feel discriminated against when invited to nominate yourself for an award?

Women, do you feel devalued when you step onto that stage in front of your peers to accept your winner’s trophy?

Women, do you feel you do not deserve the recognition when your local press writes an article on your winning achievement?

Women, do you feel ashamed to have won rather than confident after hearing the applause of an auditorium of peers willing you with all their heart to do it!?

The women who participate in the awards receive many benefits to help their businesses grow. They receive the exposure that can set them apart from the rest when looking for further business opportunities. Being recognised and rewarded by your peers is uplifting and boosts morale. We spend so much time creating and building our dreams from near to nothing that it’s needed. Building dreams with little to no funding support I might add, according to the Women Code Annual Report covered by the British Business Bank). Another barrier faced by women in business.

Women must choose what is for their benefit and what disadvantages them. We have fought for the right to choose for centuries, to choose what happens with our property, finances, families and even our bodies! A fight that still rages on today with the women’s rights movements worldwide with the support of many men.

Women’s Business Awards

In 2022 the Scotland Women’s Business Awards received over 500 nominees for the various categories of awards. In each category, we awarded one winner and two runners-up. Each category was judged independently by a sponsor whose brand was seen globally as part of our hybrid event.

The mission is simple, to empower women to succeed. The Conference and Awards is the platform for women to be seen, and heard and to connect and collaborate.

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