• Michelle Johnson

Why it's time to celebrate powerful women in the workplace

Updated: Sep 19, 2018

Tempus Wealth Edition 2018 celebrates women in luxury
Tempus Wealth Edition 2018 celebrates women in luxury

Since I joined Tempus last year as digital editor, it's been fascinating to learn about how the luxury sector is making waves while working to grow the impact of our online platforms. But nothing can beat meeting some of the incredible people pushing the boundaries in their fields. As a woman, it's even more special when those killer minds are female.

It was our editor Rachel Ingram's idea to dedicate an entire issue – the flagship wealth edition – to the women driving the luxury industry, partly to mark to the centenary of the first women's suffrage in the UK. But neither of us could've guessed just how much we'd get from it on both a personal and professional level.

It's been one hell of an education.

For my part, I expected us to find women who were eager to tell us about the grit and fortitude it requires to break into traditionally male-dominated industries, or who wanted to emphasise how much work is still needed to be done before we have a hope of true equality, because that's all as true today as it was years ago. However, I also learned that we're well ahead of the curve, with women making up 38 per cent of CEOs of luxury British brands.

The diversity of these women is also something to celebrate. From entrepreneurs and self-starters to women climbing the traditional employment ladders; family-run brands leading the pack in purpose-led business models or working-class women innovating whole sectors; from all over the world, from all races and religions, the women we met in the course of this issue define intersectionality.

I was delighted to interview Joy Spence – the world's first female master blender – and Kim Woodward – the Savoy Grill's first ever female head chef, now reimagining 100 Wardour St – for the issue. Both Joy and Kim told me how delighted they were to break traditional gender barriers, but more importantly for them was how exciting it is that they are starting to get competition from other women. Joy, a chemist at heart, even gives motivational speeches to female chemistry students at home in Jamaica to encourage them to on her mantle.

"There's never been a huge space for women, but that is changing. Strong females are coming in and I love it" – Kim Woodward

Every person we met in the course of this issue emphasised to us just how supremely capable and powerful a woman's voice is when she is in a position to be heard, whether that's Kate Percival, the founder of women-only private members' club Grace Belgravia (proponent of the term 'brain break', which we're fully embracing on busy days), advocating for wellness in business; Walpole CEO Helen Brocklebank's predictions for post-Brexit economy; or the women in watchmaking who are breaking into the boardroom at the highest levels.

This rise in gender equality – and in diversity – at the executive level is recognised as a major factor in why luxury is leading profitable sectors in these uncertain times. And, taken a simple step further, it's clear that a positive step for women can have a massive impact for our society as a whole.

These powerful and driven women gave us a lot of food for thought, whether in terms of our work ethic, personal branding, or how to ensure your business has purpose. It's clear from their stories that we're all stronger when we create a network of positivity and support – when we champion other women, and hear diverse voices, opinions and ideas.

There are many roads left to climb in the battle for true equality, but I'm determined to remain inspired by these brilliant businesswomen. After all, it's a woman's world.