By Ronnie Ajoku
When it comes to earning power (in terms of wages and salaries), one issue that is constantly discussed is the gender pay gap. Simply put, it is the difference in the amount paid to male and female employees for the exact same role.
Whether this is fair or not has been the subject of many a debate, and with the increasing move towards a fairer society and equal opportunities for all, it has remained a hot topic.
One way of ensuring you do not receive less than you are worth is to take control of your own destiny and work for yourself. After all, why be limited when female empowerment initiatives are on the rise?
“I dreamed of having my own business and Genistar gave me that dream and turned it into reality,” says Executive Vice President (EVP) Melchorita Berganio. Initially uncertain of how things would turn out, she was encouraged by the results she began to see after applying herself:
“At first I felt it wouldn’t work for me. Not until I tried it and it started showing visible results that I was pleased to have, as well as the gradual increase in income that is dependent on your hard work.”
For Ching Dela Cruz, a Senior Vice President ( SVP), it was an unforeseen redundancy that made her take the plunge: “I have always wanted to be in business, being inspired by so many great people. But it was only when I was made redundant from my previous job – at a time when I was lost – that I decided to go out of my comfort zone and try something new.” Regarding the rising number of initiatives promoting female entrepreneurship, she said: “The number of initiatives that the government and other organisations are promoting is an indication that females in general are no longer on the sidelines. It shows that we are now being recognised and the importance of our contribution to society.”
On the other hand, Sharon Gordon was not new to entrepreneurship before Genistar, having run businesses in the past: “I have owned several other businesses, some more successful than others. With every one, I have learnt how to survive the failures, duplicate the successes and appreciate challenging myself every day to do better and not stand still for too long.” Sharon has been lucky to have been accepted into one of the governmentfunded initiatives aimed at encouraging female entrepreneurship.
“I was privileged to have been accepted into the Inspiring Women course – for women who have started a business and need support with growth, development and finances. This led to my business partner and I being selected for the Female Founders Accelerated Growth programme with a very prestigious city bank. However, the issue for me is less about the course, for which there are a number. At the end of each course there were still a number of gaps in my financial knowledge, gaps that I believe are now being filled through Genistar. It is a very true saying that one hour in the field is worth 20 in the classroom,” she added.
Barbara Anderson (EVP) has experienced the pains of gender pay gap firsthand and acknowledges the opportunity being in control of her own destiny has provided her. “As a former Accountant my salary was never anywhere near what my male colleagues were earning, especially working in a male-owned business where all Directors were male and the rest of the department was male. What I currently earn running my own business I could not even have imagined earning a quarter of as a professional.”
Barbara goes further to encourage other women looking for financial freedom saying: “I recently read somewhere that a chance at guaranteed success is better than the certainty of failure. A job is never designed for an employee to become wealthy from it. You will never own your position. Whilst the initial journey might be challenging, the business success and satisfaction is/will be yours. It might stretch you, but it will certainly strengthen you. The only ‘what if’ you must ask yourself is ‘what if I succeed?”‘
For Jan Owbridge, being an ‘army wife’ and living in different countries meant it made more sense for her to run businesses than seek conventional employment. However, her real success came when she discovered Genistar. As she puts it: “I didn’t really make money until Genistar”. Comparing possibilities offered to women in employment to that of being self-employed, the EVP says: “It’s the only way to go. There is no age limit (I’m a pensioner) and no-one will tell you that ‘you can’t’ – you will never become financially free in a job and it’s only with a business that you can achieve the freedom you want. Go for it!”
This article was reprinted with permission from The London Business Journal.