43% of all large UK firms reported having NO WOMEN at board level at all in 2015. WTF right? There have to be tonnes of reasons, but we reckon one is simply because it just doesn’t appeal enough to many mega talented women. And maybe that’s because when we think about ‘corporate success’ it so often conjures up expectations of conforming to male defined norms and culture, which let’s face it, sounds totally stifling. We’re thinking formal work wear, in-the-know jargon, hidden pay scales, fixed working practices that haven’t really changed in a hundred million years... Blah!
We reckon one way to help over-turn that outdated culture is to proactively behave in a way that better suits and represents women. What we wear is only one part, but it’s an easy one to get on board with and an important tactic because it’s so visual – and hence the most obvious way to throw a clear signal – i.e. it’s time we mixed this shit up. It’s a bit ludicrous that when it comes to defining what’s smart to wear in a corporate environment, the starting point is a dude in a grey suit. And that’s one of the reasons we set up Milk Tooth.
We want women to feel totally amazing – and rocking a pair of statement earrings is a flexible and simple way to embrace feminine awesomeness. It's also totally rejecting any pressure to avoid standing out for fear of coming across as vacuous or conceited. It’s been interesting to see Nigerian novelist and Feminist icon Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie add her perspective as the face of No7. She says: "Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are. Sadly, women have learnt to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female, such as fashion and make-up."
In a sense, it can even be empowering in itself to wear something a little different - if it helps you challenge that unjust fear of coming across as attention-seeking by wearing something a bit fancy. Masculinity is constantly associated with flashy cars or watches and we’re taught that boldness equates to strong leadership among men, so why should women worry about being bold when it comes to fashion choices. Okay, in reality there are still certain parameters we like to play within (maybe keep the neon tube top for Sundays ;) but there’s still a whole load of flexibility we shouldn’t be afraid of (I insist that a bit of bling on a Tuesday never hurt anyone).
In this day and age, women shouldn’t need to worry about appearing irreverent if they choose to care about fashion or dress feminine. Bringing your personality to work and not feeling like we all have to fit into the same mold has got to be a good thing if we want to appeal to a broad range of customers and create a workplace that all staff thrive in, right? So let’s liberate the men up too - self expression for all! For most people (including men) it’s a total no-brainer that increasing the amount of women in senior roles is a good thing - and there’s also a tonne of evidence. We know that gender diversity increases innovation, creativity and collaboration within a company, which in turn improves financial performance and reduces negative culture and reputation risks.
Whatever your level within a company, we can all play a role in defining the culture we want to work within. We believe that being confident in your own style, and empowering other women to do the same, whatever their choices, is one way to help re-balance the playing field.