No matter of gender, one of Top Banana’s priorities has always been to grow, develop and build our staff to the best of their abilities, helping them find their passions and grow their skill sets. However, we recognise that the idea of women not being able to have a balance of both home and work, children and career has been around for too long and has been continually perpetuated into society – instead of addressing the issues that lead to women not going for leadership positions such as a lack of work-life balance, poor maternity leave schemes, bias institutional mindsets, and lack of support to help women advance.
The statistics are bleak – out of all Fortune 500 companies’ women hold only 19% of board seats with the number of female CEOs at these companies being a mere 4%. Our industry is unfortunately not exempt, and though the Creative Communications and Events industry is made up predominantly of women, there are still less than 20% in senior and boardroom positions.
It’s numbers like these which is why we feel it’s so important to be a part of initiatives such as Fast Forward 15 – a scheme that allows women to remain true to themselves and their personal lives, whilst developing and make strides in their professional careers. We’ve been involved in FF15 for some time now, with women from our own leadership team taking part as mentees – and this year, our CEO Richard Bridge taking on the role as Mentor for the class of 2021/22.
Having seen the incredible work put in by founder Fay Sharpe over the last 7 years, Rich said that this was the year for him to get more deeply involved in the programme…
“Fay has always been at the top of her game, and at Top Banana, we’ve watched and recognised her success for a long time. Starting FF15 as an extension of that success is an inspiration and being selected as a mentor this year is an honour and a privilege. My goal over the next 12 months is to share my passion, knowledge, and creativity with the next generation while making some new friends along the way. Overall my ambition is to help people understand their strengths and support them in achieving their career goals and more – no matter what they may have faced over 2020”.
It has taken the USA 56 Vice Presidents to finally get a Woman in the White House, but people like Kamala Harris show that change is happening all over the globe, and 2021 is as good a time as any to re-evaluate how you can encourage your female workforce to aim for the stars. At Top Banana we’ve taken this exact mindset and have been striving to beat the statistics by building and expanding our leadership team, which we’re proud to announce is now 60% female.
The obstacles are real – but the answer, as we have found, is to address those head-on, so pathways are opened for our female leaders to shine and achieve their professional dreams no matter what their private life may consist of.
Jemma Peers, now Managing Director, spent a year of coaching and training to take on the role of MD, ensuring that when the time came, she was ready to go into the new role with confidence…
“It’s always been my goal to be Managing Director, I knew when I joined Top B 5 years ago and I told Rich from day one that this is where I wanted to be. There were no pushback’s, only pathways and milestones for me to reach in order to be confident and proficient in this new phase of my career. Together we’ve worked every year on new targets for me to reach, areas of the business for me develop and learn about – and this final year has been a real push in polishing my strategic and managerial mindset.
Leaders aren’t just pulled out of thin air; it takes time and development and I have found a workplace that removes the boundaries that so many others put in front of women to prevent them from reaching the top. A workplace that empowers women and recognises their decision to be mothers and professionals is one that we all want to work for and one that will ultimately produce the most success – and I am so proud to be here now with Rich, forging our next generation of female leaders at Top Banana”.