Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) and this year’s theme is #PressforProgress. This is a nod to the #metoo movement. It highlights the need to continue to fight for gender equality in its many forms.
The global Xero community is full of amazing women doing incredible things. We talked to some of them about the challenges they’ve faced and what IWD means to them.
Nikki Adams is the co-owner and CEO of family-run business Ad Valorem Accountants in Milton Keynes, UK. Here she tells us what inspires her.
Back when I first started out in my career, I used a typewriter with carbon paper (my sons needed an explanation of what that was). Things have changed a bit since then. Not only is it possible to scale and run a global business with just 30 people, but we now also have many more women in positions of leadership.
Where it all began
When I was growing up, there weren’t many role models for women who wanted to enter a profession and start a career. My mother told me I’d make a great mum, and that was that really. But the changing world around me was telling me the complete opposite.
It was the 80s; shoulder pads were big, movies like ‘Working Girl’ showed women taking on the male-dominated workforce and, love or hate her, we had our first female Prime Minister.
At 16, I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps. He had a strong work ethic, and I wasn’t going to let our difference in gender stand in the way.
My first major job was with a small but very fast-growing family business when I was 19. I was lucky enough to work for an inspiring entrepreneur who rewarded my commercial acumen with a directorship at the ripe old age of 24. We went on to build an extremely successful business called TRS Staffing Solutions.
Commuting and international travel weren’t particularly compatible with my family life, so in 2001 I made the decision to set up Ad Valorem with my husband.
My support network
My husband Nigel has always been hugely supportive. Sharing responsibilities has worked out extremely well for us, especially in the earlier years when we were balancing bringing up children with building a business.
The ability to be flexible has been key.
There have been times when Nigel has taken time off work to focus on the children, and vice versa. Again, a gender split hasn’t stood in the way of both of us achieving our aims.
The changing way we work
I’ve worked within the small business community for over 30 years and am pleased to say the way we work today is a far cry from what it was like in 1985.
Innovative technologies have transformed our working worlds. Apps like Receipt Bank, Smartsheet, Lucidchart and of course Xero – have enabled remote working. This has completely transformed our ability to balance work and family life. I know many other working women and mums in particular who all say the same.
Nowadays, you can scale a business globally, travel without dropping the ball, and collaborate faster and more efficiently with teams.
It’s 2018 now..
I have encountered discrimination – for being young, female and not a qualified accountant – but I have never let it bother me. When I worked in recruitment, a number of men found it difficult to be recruited and managed by a younger female.
That kind of attitude didn’t last long with me. However, I know many young women who still experience these same challenges.
My advice to them is what I’d tell my 20-year-old self: be confident. Don’t let anyone put you down. Find out who you are and stay true to yourself. Play it to your advantage, and if someone underestimates you, try not to forget that it’s their problem, not yours.
While fantastic progress has been made, now isn’t the time to sit back. I’m constantly challenging the status quo and I actively encourage more and more women to do so.
I still see more insecurities from women than men when it comes to their ability in the workplace. This goes back to having the right confidence and drive to follow your dreams. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Xerocon London was a huge eye-opener for me. It attracted lots of women, much more than any other accountancy events I’ve been to.
We still have a long way to go and #PressforProgress is an important rallying cry. I think it’s a message for women – and men – to not sit in silence, or turn the other cheek when faced with discrimination. Progress, like change, requires committed action – 365 days a year.
By Nikki Adams, Director, Ad Valorem