As an older woman in business it is refreshing to observe the cultural shift that appears to be taking place. Our new Prime Minister has just landed the biggest role of her career at the age of 59 and I hope this will go some way to remove some of the stigma surrounding older women in the public sphere - whether in politics or business.
Theresa May, and those like her, highlight the opportunities available to more mature women. Thankfully, I haven’t heard many grumblings doubting Theresa’s capability due to her age, but after a 26 year hiatus from female leadership in the UK it is refreshing to see her take charge.
So why are we observing this shift? I know it’s a cliché to cite ‘life experience’ but both my personal and professional life experiences have helped immeasurably when setting up my business, pro-age beauty brand, Look Fabulous Forever. When I founded the brand at 65, I had 30 years’ experience of working for myself.
In my personal life, I had just experienced an emotionally challenging year providing support for my family after my granddaughter was born with a rare chromosomal disorder. Of course I’m not saying that to be a successful businesswoman you need to experience emotionally difficult times, but such times can help you to grow and develop as a person. For me personally, after this tough year, I was ready to start a new challenge.
As a post-war baby boomer, I am part of a generation whose career options were extremely limited. Although I realise that there is still a long way to go in terms of equal pay and career opportunities, it is greatly heartening that women everywhere are showing that we are capable of reaching the very highest levels within our organisations. We are also demonstrating great entrepreneurialism by setting up successful businesses, even if, like me, we are traditionally considered too ‘old’ to do so.
Older women in business act as role models to women of any age. By showing that we are capable, professional, and equal to our male counterparts, we can inspire other women, especially those who have had children and are worried that a career break might mean that they are at a disadvantage.
However alongside the ‘gran-preneur’, the ‘mum-preneur’ is an ever-growing demographic. People are finally starting to realise that life doesn’t end when you become a mum, and your career opportunities don’t end when you hit 60.
The state pension age is only getting higher - 60 years for women seems like a distant memory and now those in their 20s will have to work until they’re 70 before they receive it. Often too much negativity is attached to this, and whilst it can be argued that a 50-year working life sounds extreme, that does not reflect my experience.
I have worked in different ways during the past 47 years - employed, self employed, full time or part-time depending on my life circumstances. At every stage I have been learning new skills and acquiring useful knowledge, so much so that I would say that the age of 65 was the perfect time for me to launch a new beauty business!
The sectors my business is based in - beauty and vlogging – highlights that these opportunities can be created in any shape or form. Who would have thought a 68 year-old would have over 2 million views on YouTube just a few years ago? So whether as an older woman you want to aim high in politics, beauty or the boardroom, this is the perfect time to begin.