Last night I attended a live screening from The British Library where Mary Portas, more commonly known to us as ‘Mary Queen of Shops’, talked about her new book, a manifesto for change in the workplace: Work Like a Woman. Putting characteristics and qualities more synonymous with female personality traits such as kindness, empathy, collaboration and flexibiltiy at the centre of the workplace to drive change from an outdated alpha environment.
With the stresses of work varying from increased expectations, longer working hours, lack of pay increase to feeling vulnerable and unable to express concerns within the workplace are leading to more people experiencing work related mental health issues. Mary is on a mission to replace the alpha working culture by being your true self, trusting your intuition, showing kindness, calling out bad behaviour, and making mischief.
“Instead of suppressing women’s talents, values and expertise, putting essentially feminine qualities, like empathy, collaboration and flexibility, strength, courage and resilience, at the heart of the system will create a radical shift in how we work – and live.”
With the rise of entrepreneurs and people turning away from traditional workplaces that no longer support their values and are impacting negatively on their mental health, Mary talks about the importance of intuition. In a world driven by data (which is of course important), lots of businesses suffer when they go against intuition. When you start to drive your business solely through numbers and data, you run the risk of losing sight of your core values and your business can suffer as a result. By reconnecting with your values and customer and following your instinct, businesses are empowered to grow and evolve in line with their ethos.
“The truth is you lose the essence of your business by going against your intuition.”
Mary talks about the restructuring of her own business, Portas where she addressed issues within her own organisation and changed the culture from within. She realigned the agency to sit in situ with her self-identified set of values:
Courage over bravery
Vision over ambition
Excellence over perfection
Alongside her core values, Portas has set out a cultural manifesto for the agency to encourage a new culture:
Be where you want and need to be. Encourage flexible working hours.
We are not members of the 16th-century court trying to plot our way to the throne. No political gameplay at work – build a "teamwork" work culture.
Use Intuition. For every single project, person or potential client, if it doesn’t feel instinctively right, then it isn’t.
Be mischievous. Infuse fun, curiosity and joy.
With this in mind, I think it sets the scene for much needed cultural change within business to make our working lives more valued and fulfilled in order to allow us to bring our ‘whole’ selves to work. It’s not just for women, but for men too.
I’ve already ordered my copy!
You can purchase yours here.