Gender and Business

It was International Women’s Day this month so in light of this, we took a look at the different perspectives of a male and a female running a business.

Husband and wife Adam and Emma Spradbury run EAS Windows together with equal responsibility. They’re leaders in windows, doors and conservatory design and installation. What does it take to have this success? Who is behind the scenes? What is it like to be a ‘double act’ in this industry?

Here is Emma’s account of being a female business owner to compare with Adam’s story.

Emma - Women in business

What is your career background?

After graduating in International Business, I knew I wanted a career in HR or Marketing. I worked for BP Oil in the marketing department, which confirmed HR was for me! I found it difficult to break into, but after a quick stint in IT (which I hated), I moved into HR via a training and development role. I gained my CIPD qualifications and worked in HR for over 10 years, mainly in third party warehousing and logistics. My last role before moving to EAS was as HR Manager for a large warehouse in Corby, which we operated on behalf of a retail giant.

I began life at EAS as a receptionist. This was the best training ground ever and offered a highly valuable insight into the industry and the company.

How has your role evolved?

The entire commercial landscape has altered since I started; the products, supply chain, customer buying patterns, industry regulation, competition, internet – the only constant over the years has been the change! As such, my role has become more strategic and I take a special interest in business development initiatives. I now co-own the business with my husband, Adam.

What challenges have you had since starting the business and do you think being a woman has had any bearing on those challenges?

I struggled with a sense of identity for quite some time – I was seen as the “boss’ wife” rather than an individual in my own right and I found the dynamics of this relationship difficult at times. Our industry is traditionally very male orientated but I’ve never been intimidated by this or seen it as a negative. Plus, knowing the increasingly significant role that females play in buying decisions within the home, I actually think it’s an advantage that I’m female.

I’m a fan of diversity in general but in our case I think it comes down to the fact that Adam and I make a good team; we share the same values and have complimentary skill-sets. Customers seem to think that we make a good ‘double act’ and they appear to like a family business being run by a husband and wife duo – hopefully it helps break some of the negative stereotypes about dodgy double-glazing salesmen!

Let us know what your thoughts on this topic. Do you think men and women are treated differently in business? Facebook or Tweet us your experiences in the workplace.