Katherine Butler: Women! Do everything and then learn how to shoot clay pigeons



Are you a woman aged between 15 and 51? Are you ambitious but discouraged by the failure of talented women like you to be promoted to senior positions in top companies? Are you in possession of a Hermès scarf?

If the answer to that last question was "No, I wouldn't be seen dead in a Hermès scarf", then you may want to question your determination to succeed. Because, apparently, this is an essential prop if you're ever to become a corporate ballbreaker in this country, let alone head the IMF. Other tips? Take up clay-pigeon shooting, gatecrash the Davos World Economic Forum, and, while you're at it, volunteer with a charity so that you can hob-nob with influential people as you fund-raise. Oh, and if at all possible consider hiring a driver.

A shameless 89 per cent of FTSE 350 companies still have no women executive directors at all, and it'll be at least another century before there is anything like boardroom parity, at the rate we're going. This is where your new Hermès purchase comes in. The scarf and shooting advice is contained in a new book, published in the week that Vince Cable tackles the "closed shop" culture of male-dominated boardrooms, as part of his initiative on excessive executive pay. Author Mrs Moneypenny – real name Heather McGregor, a businesswoman who presents C4's Superscrimpers – isn't waiting around for Vince to make a fuss; she wants women to tackle where they themselves are going wrong.

Her Careers Advice for Ambitious Women is not all regressively about professional blowdries (although hair matters, apparently) or carrying a spare pair of tights in your bag. It's also about sensibly saying No, and realising that while you are being ultra-diligent, your less experienced male colleague may be getting ahead by cc-ing the boss and strategically boasting about his own brilliance.

Every woman should be spending at least 5 per cent of her time on her own PR, Mrs Moneypenny claims.This is not, she insists, so much about attending networking events as seeking out "sponsors", or building a "third dimension" into your life, so that when you find you're sitting next to the CEO of Google on a flight, you have something interesting to talk about.

Most women I know are already excellent networkers: it starts in the playground. Where they probably have qualms is about seeming mercenary by asking a contact or connection to "sponsor" their ascent up the greasy pole or using charity work to burnish their public image.

And it seems unfair that women must absorb all the changes required to equalise corporate power. If Mrs Moneypenny is right, we must gain a top-flight education, then bore ourselves senseless taking extra accountancy qualifications to prove we are not a financial liability, and learn to shoot clay pigeons. Only then will we have the confidence to schmooze the people who matter. Are male executives ever sent on courses to learn how unconscious bias works?

Mrs Moneypenny would argue that we have to deal with the world, not some future theoretical nirvana. That certainly isn't coming any time soon, if Lord Oakeshott is correct. He told the FT yesterday that British business still picks its bosses from an "incestuous male gene pool". Maybe get your driver to run you to the Hermès store.

The power of canine intuition

Uggie the wonder dog from the French movie The Artist has achieved Hollywood glory and charmed the critics with his extraordinary scene-stealing. I am not in the least surprised. I accompanied a Jack Russell to the vet's the other day. Ellie, my mother's, is a big dog trapped in a small dog's body; scrappy and pugilistic when she encounters another canine. But she put on a convincing performance in the waiting room. A big rangy rescue dog "highly volatile" his carer kept warning the receptionist, was ahead of us. There was a whimpering labrador and a scared cat in a shoe box who'd been run over by a car.

Mayhem seemed inevitable But the Jack Russell imparted a kind of calm, and all the animals fell silent, like a truce in a UN green zone. Did she somehow communicate that they were all united by one aim: getting out of there alive? Or maybe the other dogs just hoped she might know where to catch a screening of Uggie.


React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower