Sara Lee, CEO: To All Women in Business
As International Women’s Day lingers just around the corner, at Comelite Cloud we want to help give our own history. As a company run by a woman, Sara Lee, and with a large selection of female employees, we’re proud of the work we do to thrash back against societal norms that demean and minimize the importance of women in the workplace.
So, this year, we want to help shine a light on some of the things that we think helps to make Comelite Cloud so special. For any women looking on and wondering if they could succeed as a business owner or an entrepreneur, we hope to give you advice and inspiration that breaks the traditional mold.
As a fully woman-owned company, Comelite Cloud is proud of its roots. However, this wasn’t the aim. Unlike other parts of society, we aren’t looking to promote inequality in our workplace – in gender or any other enterprise. It just so happened that, over time, our employees were generally from a female persuasion and this subconsciously helped to create the image of a woman-friendly workplace.
Of course, we are proud of that fact – we know that we’re an employer with an open-mind who will give anyone with the skills the chance. Indeed, many workers were recently graduated university colleagues of Sara. People from all manner of backgrounds stepped up to create something special.
A Struggle to Stay Relevant
Of course, trying to trailblaze and break away from the norm has its own challenges and limitations. Most of the time, we found that the advice we received from business specialists and fellow business owners was always the same: hire a man. Get a man to do a man’s job etc.
It was demeaning and frustrating, and often had little to do with the job we were enquiring about or looking for support within. That made the development of a plan to become a woman-oriented business a little easier in our minds.
We continued along in this process, despite being ‘warned’ that we would struggle to find relevancy and to get ahead of our competition. Ironically, it actually felt like we were accused of being discriminatory!
No matter what advice we sought, though, the answer was the same. It appeared that, in our early days, many seen Comelite Cloud as something not to take seriously. X years on since our inception, though, we’ve proven that logical fallacy to be incorrect.
Like any other company, we faced numerous challenges. Since we found that outside support was often more insistent on offering us gender-based assistance over a meritocratic approach, we decided to look within the business in a bid to find the solutions that we could use to help inspire our workforce to do more.
The Key Tenets of Success
So, as 8th March 2018 comes into focus, we want to help other women in business see how we were able to make a different approach to what is often a very difficult, exasperating experience. Sara decided to try and set up an experience which was built upon the following principles. Each principle would play a key role in our development as a forefront for ambitious women in business, including:
- The desire to listen to one another. This approach comes from freedom from any kind of dominant name or force within the business. Sara and co. decided that Comelite Cloud would be a fully functioning meritocracy. This would remain the case, no matter the ‘status’ the person talking. If it was for the good of the company and had logical value, then it would happily be considered and discussed.
- The acceptance of other ideas. Another key tenet of Comelite Cloud was the creation of a methodology that became permanent. We ensured everyone has a voice. While we might hold an idea of our own, we would listen to all other business members and women in business. Nobody has the right to dismiss an opinion simply as it disagrees with their own. We would still accept, listen to and fully legitimise the idea that they put across to us.
- Business-wide respect. The aim was to create a business that would allow for respect to be shared across the board. Rather than forced settlement, the aim was to create a culture of harmony. One where ideas become welcome, sought and shared. Never ignored, and certainly never dismissed. The aim was simple. We made sure that everyone got respect for their presence and output. That would remain the case, regardless of anything else.
- Helping one another. One major element of Comelite Cloud that Sara and co. were insistent on was a hands-on approach. If someone came to a colleague in need of assistance, the onus would be on them to assist. It did not matter if someone was behind on their own work. If a colleague needed help on a more pressing task, resources adjust to meet demand. Company-wide goals come first ahead of personal goals.
- Delivering for others. We do our best to deliver with each other, for each other. That could mean setting up regular team meetings. Or, it could be making sure that everyone wold work together and engage in a team-based environment. Comelite Cloud, over time, became a haven for women in business looking for co-operation. We all work under the one banner, after all. So why not work together instead of competing? If the company wins, then we all win!
- Communication is key in Comelite Cloud, and that will likely never change. There’s a real desire to meet with one another. We want to make sure that all members of staff feel comfortable talking to one another. Whether talking about work, life or just general small-talk, that's the aim. The idea is simple; to remove a culture of competitiveness. Instead, we want to create a business culture where everyone was together. Working as one - delivering as one.
This 8th March 2018, then, we want to celebrate all the women in business taking that next step. If you are in business yourself, we'd love to hear from you. We're an inspiring place to learn from; to see how a cohesive team environment can benefit everyone. We believe we’re an example of how teamwork, togetherness and a more meritocratic approach can work so well.
International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the success and the togetherness of women in business. We’re proud of our achievement as a group. We would love to help you find pride in your own professional progress!