‘Today’s opportunity is so much greater than the unfinished business of the past – and that’s why I’ve written this book now’. Helena Morrissey introduces A Good Time to be a Girl.
It’s a good time to be a girl! In all honesty, I don’t think I could have written that completely unequivocally before now. Of course, I’ve seen real progress for women over my fifty-year lifetime, thirty-year career in a male-dominated industry and twenty-five years of motherhood, beginning with one son and now (a final tally!) nine children. It’s certainly been – increasingly – a better time to be a girl. In my book, I aim to show there is so much to celebrate about this progress, as well as how you can create your own opportunities for success, whatever stage you are in life.
But today’s opportunity is so much greater than the unfinished business of the past – and that’s why I’ve written this book now.
Gender equality is a well-worn subject but it is not one we have mastered. The reality is that still only a small number of women have been making it to the top or feel they are fulfilling their potential. Many more tell me they feel discouraged about their prospects, unfulfilled or conflicted in their multiple roles as mothers or carers with careers. And yet, I am more optimistic today than ever before.
I believe that we – men and women, working together – have an unprecedented opportunity to create a new, more successful quite different approach, one that will not just create more possibilities for girls, but more choices for boys, too – a bolder approach to gender equality that’s not aimed merely at training a few more women in working practices that have outlived their usefulness. Those women (and even fewer ethnic minority, gay or disabled people) who have made it to the top today are the exceptions, the ones who have mostly played by the rules of the existing game. We now have the chance to reinvent the game.
Our ambitious, shared goal now is to devise ways of working, living, loving and bringing up families together, as equals. A model of partnership and collaboration, rather than hierarchy and patriarchy.
What makes me so confident? – and so out of sync with many commentators, who rightly despair at everything from President Trump and Harvey Weinstein to gender pay gaps? The irony is that the new opportunity I see arises from the very state of flux we find ourselves in. Today’s upheavals are unsettling in so many ways and may result in setbacks, but they also open the door to a whole new level of progress. That’s not just wishful thinking. My experiences have shown me that people become receptive to new ideas at moments of dislocation in a way that’s very unlikely in stable times.
The key is to seize the moment.
What happens next is very much up to all of us – and that includes you! You don’t need to choose between focusing on your own career and creating the conditions for broader progress; increasingly, those goals are linked. My aim for the book is to show readers how to make the most of today’s new opportunities, whether they are still at school, starting out in working life, looking to progress at mid-career or already at a senior level, whether they are a daughter, son, parent, mentor, mentee, teacher, pupil, CEO or apprentice.
Helena Morrissey is one of the best-known women in the City and has been named one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Greatest Leaders. She was appointed CBE in the 2012 New Year’s Honours list for her contribution to the role of women in business.
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Five years have passed since women were exhorted to ‘Lean In’. Over that time, the world has transformed beyond all expectations. But why should anyone ‘lean in’ to a patriarchal system that is out of date? Why not change it entirely for the good of us all?
In A Good Time to be a Girl, Helena Morrissey sets out how we might achieve the next big breakthrough towards a truly inclusive modern society.
Drawing on her experience as a City CEO, mother of nine, and founder of the influential 30% Club which campaigns for gender-balanced UK company boards, her manifesto for new ways of working, living, loving and raising families is for everyone, not just women. Making a powerful case for diversity and difference in any workplace, she shows how, together, we can develop smarter thinking and broader definitions of success. Gender balance, in her view, is an essential driver of economic prosperity and part of the solution to the many problems we face today.
Her approach is not aimed merely at training a few more women in working practices that have outlived their usefulness. Instead, this book sets out a way to reinvent the game – not at the expense of men but in ways that are right and relevant for a digital age. It is a powerful guide to success for us all.
A Good Time To be A Girl is published on 8th February 2018.