When running a home, women constantly play the role of entrepreneurs – after all, the rules governing the home are analogous to those governing business, says Beata Drzazga, founder of BetaMed SA and several other companies. Today we will focus on discussing the stereotypes that women have to face in the business world.
Ms. Beata, you have been running your own companies for almost three decades. What gender stereotypes do you see in business?
In Poland, as in many other places around the world, the view persists that men are naturally predisposed to running a business – after all, it is an area that requires strength, decision-making and confidence. Women, on the other hand, are often perceived as fragile, unable to overcome adversity. Similar beliefs also prevail in the context of public positions, such as president or mayor – with male candidates being considered first. I think this is unfair, and not just from a woman’s perspective, but from the point of view of an objective assessment of qualifications. There are positions for which you should choose a person with the right charisma, competence, entrepreneurship, passion and strength. Such a person can also be a woman. Unfortunately, it happens that when she competes with a man for a given position, even if the man does not have the necessary qualities, the choice falls on him – because of stereotypes. I would like to see that both in and out of business, people judge our talents and competence, not our gender. This does not mean that women should now be chosen everywhere. It is enough to simply treat everyone equally, without focusing on gender.
What attributes do you think are key in managing a business, and are they in any way related to the gender of the business person?
In my opinion, domination never leads to victory. Too strict an approach creates frustration and negative emotions among subordinates. People respect and listen to those leaders who deserve this respect and authority. Here you need a balance, a combination of qualities traditionally considered masculine and feminine in the right proportions.In the management of the company, responsibility, strength – also on an emotional level – is key. You need to be a person who is able to cope with all the challenges that arise in the course of running a business, such as failure or changes in the market. A good entrepreneur doesn’t panic, doesn’t recoil at employees, but starts to act.Equally important is to maintain a balance in relations with employees – neither too much distance nor too close a relationship is good. The key is to create an atmosphere in which employees feel that as an employer you care about them, stand up for them and always have their best interests in mind, not just the success and performance of the company.Another important aspect is the ability to inspire people, guide them and mobilize them to action. As someone wisely said – the trick is not to persuade people to build a boat, the trick is to instill in them a love for the ocean. I see this in my company at every level.
What are the main obstacles for women pursuing high positions in business?
There is still a widespread belief in many circles that the main role of women should be to devote themselves to the home and family, and that it should be up to men to run the biz. This, however, is completely the wrong approach. After all, managing a home is actually running your own small business – everything must be organized, purchases must be made and delivered on time, family members must be prepared for their daily duties. Not to mention preparations for holidays and other family celebrations. So women, managing the home, have long been, in fact, entrepreneurs. This contrasts with the perceptions of many men, who are not usually so involved in these daily household chores.
Let’s move on to the next myth: a woman running a business must give up family life.
Definitely, this is a myth. My experience directly contradicts this thesis, and I am not alone in this. I have the opportunity to meet other business women at clubs for entrepreneurs. We discuss the topic and I see that many of them share my beliefs. Being an entrepreneur gives us the opportunity to perfectly combine work and home life. The constraints of the traditional 8-hour workday do not apply to us. That’s why I wholeheartedly encourage women to start and run their own businesses, to keep growing, because it gives them control over their time. That the family of a woman running her own business loses out is a myth. My experience shows that the reality is different. I am an independent mother of three children, I have completed seven majors, I am the dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Upper Silesian Academy in Katowice and I run companies. I manage to successfully combine all these spheres of life. I devote a lot of time to my children, I make sure they grow up to be wonderful, empathetic people. I even go a step further, saying that often women who focus solely on the home can feel unappreciated, can feel dissatisfied. If they awaken their entrepreneurial spirit, they could feel more fulfilled and happy, which would translate into benefits for the whole family.
Having experience with an international environment, you certainly had the opportunity to compare the situation of women business owners in Poland and other countries. What are your observations on this subject? How does Poland compare in this comparison?
In my opinion, the situation of women business owners in Poland is very good, although it obviously depends on which country you compare us with. Looking at the European context, I believe that Polish women are extremely hard-working, organized and committed, which allows them to achieve exceptional success. I am very proud of them. At the same time, during my travels to less affluent countries, such as some countries in Africa, where women are not as self-aware as we are, I always try to inspire them to be independent. I try to convey to them, through stories of my own experience, that they have the right to a different, better reality, independent of social expectations. It is important to maintain your femininity during this process, to be a caring mother and wife, but at the same time an independent and self-reliant person. I always tell them – remember, be independent!
Are there any women entrepreneurs who are your source of inspiration?
I admire many women for their achievements and the way they run their businesses. Their successes inspire me and further strengthen me internally. I would like to emphasize that I never feel jealousy towards other people’s successes, but rather pure admiration. I am happy when I can express these positive emotions to these people. I think it is very important for women to support each other and say beautiful things to each other. Supporting each other is a value we should
Beata Drzazga, an outstanding entrepreneur, philanthropist, source of inspiration and mentor in the business world. She is a leading speaker at both Polish and international conferences in the fields of medicine, management and economics. Her impressive achievements have been recognized with more than 270 prestigious awards and prizes, which she has won not only domestically, but also on the international stage.
Source: Manager Report