International Women's Day Inputs from In Cloud Solutions

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Liz Matraves and Caroline Atkinson, founders of In Cloud Solutions, a WEConnect International certified women's business enterprise

On Friday 8th March, it will be International Women’s Day and this year sees the adoption of the theme #balanceforbetter. This call-to-action is both progressive and distinctive because it recognises that we now live in a world where balance is expected – where we celebrate its presence and notice its absence.

Balance is not a women's issue, it’s a human issue. If you agree that everyone benefits from a balanced world then it follows that everyone is responsible for making it happen.

But balance is also a business issue, since gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive. As the International Women’s Day website says, our goals are striving for; “a gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage ...” and so on.

But we would be foolish to take a rose-tinted view. In 2017 McKinsey’s produced a report looking back on 10 years of gender diversity in which they revealed that women were still underrepresented in the economy and in companies’ top management.

Globally, women generate only 37 percent of GDP despite accounting for 50 percent of the global working-age population.

So there are many rivers still to cross.

At In Cloud Solutions, a WEConnect International certified women's business enterprise, they have a mixed gender management team, but their two founders, Liz Matraves and Caroline Atkinson are women. These women, working in the technology sector for SAP, saw the potential power of cloud technology to deliver transformative digital software to small and medium sized companies who had previously been left out. Liz and Caroline took a risk and 7 years later are at the helm of a thriving business technology company delivering digital ERP software to growing companies all over the country.

The International Women’s Day hashtag #Balanceforbetter has always been a guiding principle for the team at In Cloud Solutions. Here are 5 of the ways they make it work for them:

Be the change you want to see. When you start a business there is no substitute for getting stuck in and making it happen - but it takes courage - man or woman. However, facing down the naysayers is still more important for women entrepreneurs because of the need to normalise the idea that businesses can be started by anyone.

Employ people you like and treat them well. Hire the best person for the job but trust your instinct – chances are you are not going to warm to someone who doesn’t get your company culture.

A work life balance for all. At In Cloud Solutions there is a great deal of respect for work life balance whatever your gender. This means active attempts to create an atmosphere where we can have downtime together, sharing Friday lunches or taking part in social activities. But it also means respecting the need for flexibility in terms of hours, location of work or the time it can take to negotiate tricky stages in family life. Babies, teenagers, elderly parents, house moves – these effect all of us, whatever gender and being given the flexibility to deal with them when they arise can help us to keep being effective as employees.

Greater than one! Joining forces with others has always been the best way to get things done and getting involved with membership organisations and campaigns can be a great help. From business groups like the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce to women’s organisations like International Women’s Day and WEConnect International there are a myriad ways to share your expertise and knowledge and also your concerns.

Pay it forward – mentor others in business. Women in leadership positions set a fantastic example just by existing but there is more to be done. You can help women within your own organisation by giving them the opportunity to lead teams, to present or to act as ambassadors for your business in the outside world. You can also act as a mentor for other women in business by getting involved in schemes and opportunities provided by membership organisations.

This piece was contributed by Lucy Thorpe, head of content for SAP partner In Cloud Solutions. She writes on ERP and Business Technology and is a former BBC news journalist based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. In Cloud Solutions is an SAP partner located in Hare Hatch near Reading selling the cloud business product SAP Business ByDesign.

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