A Voice for Women
I had a great catch up today with a senior lady in yachting with whom I have had the pleasure to work with in my past life of being a somewhat inexperienced professional with big dreams, hopes and gullible to the big wide world. Yes indeed, when I was an employee in my 20s.
Amidst our lunch walk with winds howling around us and waves crashing against the pathway we walked on (very unlike the south of France but more resembling a scene out of 'Poldark'), it seemed that fired spirits were set loose and we spoke about certain frustrations for women still within the industry catering for UHNWI (maybe it was the elements, maybe I have been watching too much of 'The Vikings' and why I felt the need to write this…).
Frustrations that still exist regardless of what changes have been implemented and the fact that we find ourselves in a new era. I salute the women who daily face the industry to stand their ground, are ticking along and who have not necessarily been "born into it" as the saying goes.
And yet they are as deserving as their peers and do a fine job everyday to make the company’s they work for shine that little bit brighter. Women who do not necessarily get the recognition they deserve or a chance to have their say in making the industry move with the times or to stand at the helm.
I am not a feminist and the article is not to knock the amazing men who have paved way to make waves for the industry in many a way, and who have allowed, surely but oh so slowly (and yet if that) to have women climb up the ladder in positions where they can have a say and take an executive stance.
This piece is to bring back home the point that there are some very talented women in the industry who deserve to be heard and recognised for all they have contributed with. Women who deserve to sit on the panels of industry think tanks. Who deserve to have their job titles changed to reflect their experience and skills. Who may be put off by constantly seeing their male counterparts take the hot seat while they sit back in the audience and think to themselves, actually I could have been there and shared the same or even put my own spin on the topic. Sigh.
Women who stand loyal to their companies and who haven't broken away, to start their own businesses to be allowed to have their wings soar over "the same old cloud" and who may not have that entrepreneurial fire in them but who long to one day, look back and think, damn, that happened partly or wholly, because of me. All that hard work I did, was for a good reason and I was recognised for it.
Aviation conferences, yachting conferences, the same feedback trickles back to me - I was one of x women in the audience, let alone on the panel if even there was a woman panelist at all. Where are you hiding ladies, what's stopping you from partaking? Don't take no for an answer, show why you should be heard.
Women are often (correct me if am wrong) considered good at the "fluffy, behind the scenes things", like marketing, PR, PA, charter or admin and ok a bit more of business development nowadays. How about being placed to make an executive decision on behalf of large companies? Scary thought for many luxury industry male leaders out there because the same phrase comes back: “What if they make the wrong decision…”
How many senior management women in luxury do we see in media say something about the state of the market, sharing facts, making announcements? Not that many. Certainly they may be writing the copy for those who actually do the talk, and doing the back-end work but being the faces?
Let’s take yachting for example, The Superyacht Life has started sharing some interesting “stories” for the world to see a more embracing and positive take on yachting, taking a mix from women and men, it's a start yes, let's see more! Oh and then you read articles such as the below:
I read this article post 2019 Monaco Yacht Show that opened a few eyes to the "outsiders" out there who don't have any idea of the going-ons in yachting and it made me think. Has the yachting market evolved with the times and why are luxury industries so male-dominated and male-driven (still)?
Be it at sea in the air or on land, the issues still stand strong and are felt across the board and rumbles are starting to tremble the seabed to make waves.
Take a peek behind the heavy curtains and what you find is a world still reigned by the old-fashioned mantra, and not just in yachting. I worked in both business aviation and yachting and one comment particularly struck me and will remain until this day. Something someone I looked up to, older, male had mentioned in an audience of 60+ people and made my jaw drop:
“You women are too soft to handle senior positions and get too emotional.” What does one say to that. We are in 2020…
The wave of new generation of yacht professionals already see that a need for change is nigh, where the old marries the new. Associations like Young Professionals in Yachting (of which I am honorary member for in Monaco having been board member) but again it is catering for both men and women, and again more men at the helm, still women speakers are a handful compared to the male counterparts.
Just because you wear a skirt or dress doesn't mean that you are there to just look pretty and have not studied a degree or have experience to be heard. Leads me to another amazing business woman I know who made a comment that pulled at the nerves. She told me that she purposefully does not wear her hair down, limits make up and does not wear a skirt or dress when speaking with peers or with male clients in important meetings because she does not wish to be perceived as unequal or just a pretty face. Seriously?
This is why I throw out the following question into the ethos. What exists that is a platform allowing women in luxury to air their thoughts and set the record straight or simply have a voice? Especially in Monaco or the South of France... I hear echos resounding across the room that I am in writing this in... Hello, anyone?
Who can count on their two hands, the number of women in senior management roles in yachting for example or business aviation? I can count only a a few, in industries that have thousands of professionals and that I have worked in where women can be yacht captains, pilots but still this stigma just keeps going.
Something powerful also hit me the other day. The latest repost hitting the web and making a splash, and which is quite in your face, is Cynthia Nixon's Vimeo video "Be a lady they said": vimeo.com/393253445. Watch it. How does it make you feel?
There are some associations, groups and forums out there that champion the expertise in the luxury industries of talented women who have achieved so much for the company's they work for, but they are all very industry-specific, not across the board.
So with all that being said and with International Women's Day coming up on 8th March, I am offering "Luxury with Natalia" as a platform for women in all walks of life working within Luxury, not necessarily in yachting or business aviation, to tell their/a story or just say hello to the big wide world of web.
Talk about the amazing achievements you personally have gained for the better of the company’s you work for. Or simply, what the audience craves; insights, anecdotes, professional comments, advice or just show yourself to tell the world that you are there and you definitely are part of the scene and know what you are talking about.
Tell it from a women’s point of view, from YOUR point of view. Or if you are a man and would like to invite a woman in your company to have her 15 minutes of glory, here’s the chance. A chance to put a name to a face and be proud of all you have contributed with for the better bigger good.
What better time then than in the lead up to International Women’s Day, I therefore would like to invite those who feel they have a story to tell, to come forward and say what they never had a chance to say because they were never invited to or didn't have the courage to come on to do or didn't feel comfortable doing on platforms that have traditionally favoured a select type.
"Luxury with Natalia" caters to a varied audience, not just industry-specific and who knows, maybe your star will shine just that little bit more in the limelight and you can go recognised in the wider spheres aside from your industry?
Don't be regular, be either bold or italic!
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