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Women’s spin on business

WESTPAC’s launch in 2000 of a division aimed specifically at women was made in recognition of both women’s growing role in business, and the special requirements women had of banks.

Overseeing the new division, Women’s Markets, in 2002 is Amanda Ellis, who has written a book that mirrors some of the aims of the division – taking career planning and advice for today’s workforce and giving it a female spin.

Ms Ellis will visit Perth next week as part of a promotional tour for the book, Women’s Business Women’s Wealth, which sets out ways for women to have it all – a successful career, financial freedom and time for family and friends.

Businesswomen represent a lucrative market. Two out of three women are either self-employed or working for an employer, but they have different financial and workplace needs than their male counterparts.

With that in mind, Women’s Business Women’s Wealth highlights what is important for working women in an easy-to-read format that contains businesswomen’s success stories and even contains quizzes on issues such as core career values and financial management.

The book outlines today’s job statistics – we average eight career changes and three redundancies during our working lives, it says.

Career management has become essential but, according to Ms Ellis, women’s role as nurturers can make it harder for them to manage their careers. She uses the term ‘Me Incorporated’ to identify the focus women need in the business world.

“Women tend to put others before themselves so it becomes harder for them to manage their own careers,” Ms Ellis said.

“Women are also less self-confident than men. Research found that 90 per cent of women need to feel confident they can do the job before they apply for it, compared with 40 per cent of men.”

As an economist Ms Ellis understands the importance of financial planning and dedicates several sections of the book to money matters. From the onset she makes it clear that women need to be smart about money.

“Despite the sometimes conflicting cultural messages we get, being financially independent is non-negotiable these days; only one in 10 women will be taken care of financially through out her life,” the book says.

“On a practical level, women need to be planning a lot earlier in their working lives.

“On average, women only work 20 years compared to 38 for men and we’re only earning 84 per cent of the male dollar.”

Ms Ellis said factors such as unpaid maternity leave meant women needed to consider their finances so that their money worked for them while they took time out of the workforce.

Women also needed to develop a better sense of political acumen to get ahead in the new corporate landscape, she told WA Business News.

“You need to be very politically aware and understand how the pieces of the puzzle fit together,” Ms Ellis said.

“You’re not just looking at your own skills set but looking at what is happening in the economy and what that means in relation to your industry.

“It’s about becoming more aware and strategic about promoting yourself.”

This book also has a firm focus on women in business. There are dozens of stories from women around the country that act as sounding boards for Ms Ellis’s theories on goal setting, establishing a business, achieving success, coping with redundancy, planning for the future, growing a business, and getting money in order. They provide a fascinating insight on their own but also form part of Ms Ellis’s goal for this book to become a reference point for working women.

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