Episode #35 - Be more flamingo. The business empowering women through high heel sales

Show notes

You don't need me to tell you, but there's a problem with gender.

It’s something the likes of Jeremy Corbyn – the man still battling to win his place as leader of the Labour opposition party here in the UK – is keen to address. He has called for small businesses to report their gender pay gaps, claiming that women were overrepresented in the lowest paying jobs.

Not long after Corbyn made the point, The Times published figures revealing that it is men that occupy all the senior roles in his team while women were relegated to the lowest paid positions. Even those are the far-left of the debate are failing to take appropriate steps to redress the balance.

The situation is worse in business. Take our supposedly enlightened cousins in Silicon Valley. Facebook and Twitter are happy to talk about the importance of diversity, but only 16% and 13% of their tech roles respectively are occupied by women.

As Gabriel Phillips writes in Management Today last week, “Many seem to work under the false assumption that there aren’t enough qualified women to work or even talk about the lack of gender diversity in the sector.

"A recent panel on ‘Gender Equality and Inclusion at the workplace’ hosted by PayPal failed to include a single woman speaker while Michael Moritz, the CEO of Sequoia Capital, said that the company was not willing to ‘lower their standards’ for the sake of diversity."

Outside of the developed world, millions of female workers worldwide continue to be deprived of basic rights such as schooling, a rest day or minimum wage. And our guest business this week is campaigning to support the wellbeing of women and girls through its own commercial venture.

Shoes by Shaherazad is a "for purpose" company and since launching earlier this year has already empowered many women in Kenya, Peru, Pakistan and Palestine through its 18-hour heels.

Enjoy. And, as ever, let me know what you think of Shaz and her story.

You can find out more about the business here.

Key quotes, points and takeaways from this week's show:

  • "Nobody should have to work an 18 hour day, but it happens."
  • "Empowered women buy my shoes, to empower women living in poverty."
  • "I've always worked with big UK retailers – and even there there's an imbalance in opportunities for women."
  • "I wanted to do something for women who don't have access to education and opportunity."
  • "I'm head of customer marketing for the Co-operative. But I wanted to do something for other people. I'm not capable of running a marathon, but thought if I can use my business skills to raise money for other people, that's what I will do."
  • "Our products are made in the UK. We don't use sweatshops and we make sure everyone is paid a fair wage."
  • "You can wear our heels for 18 hours and they won't hurt your feet."
  • "Women working in boardrooms shouldn't be hobbling; it's not a good look."
  • "I went to the London College of Fashion on weekends and learned the principles of design, found a factory to hep me and launched earlier this year."
  • "We work in 5 countries and aim to give 3 months of education for every pair of shoes sold."
  • "I didn't want to just give money to a cause. By supporting education, women can go on to make their own living and take control of their own futures."
  • "I want us all to be flamingoes. They believe in equal rights; the male and female share in child rearing and live in harmony."
  • "You do need to invest in good marketing and PR. Also, trust the people around you to get more done."
  • "Having more faith at the beginning would have been good; hold your nerve."
Real women modelling Shaz's shoes

Real women modelling Shaz's shoes