Lucy Marcus – Founder and CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting Ltd. – has been super busy of late having just returned from the 2010 Global Women’s Leadership Conference in Seoul, Korea. The conference brought together 500 female leaders from the worlds of politics, business, culture and governments and according to the CEO of Hankook Illbo and co-sponsor of the event Jong Seoung Lee, “The 21st century is the century of women.”
Former US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice presented one of the leading keynote speeches on “Tough leadership decision in tough times” and the discussions focused on increasing levels of diversity in business and encouraging young women to break through the glass ceilings. Conferences and talks related to ‘women and business’ are ongoing and diversity has considerably improved, but there are still noticeable gaps at the top of the tree in many organisations. Women are still heavily under-represented in board rooms, not only in Asia but also across the world.
As a result projects such as The Modern Muse have recently been launched with the aim of inspiring the next generation of up and coming businesswomen. The founders of the project Maxine Benson MBE and Karen Gill MBE felt there was a shortage of female role models in the UK “The UK is suffering from a female role model shortage, yet there are thousands of wonderful women in differing roles and industries, from diverse backgrounds and education who can demonstrate the range of exciting career options out there.” Karen and Maxine decided to bring together 100 of the most inspiring women – including motivational and keynote speaker Liz Jackson MBE. Liz – who took part in Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire – set up her own telemarketing business ‘Great Guns Marketing’ despite losing her sight at a young age. With a small grant and loan from The Prince’s Trust she went on to develop a multi-million pound business employing nearly 130 staff at 7 branches and earning numerous awards along the way including the ‘UK Women Mean Business Award’.
All those who are working towards greater diversity hope that more equal levels of representation will become the standard rather than the exception. As Lucy says, “It is important to recognize the critical roles that women have played in developing societies and economies. By highlighting this work, it begins to help countries, societies, and companies realize that this is not unusual, but rather should be the norm.’’