Ben Black – What International Women’s Day means to me

Ben Black from My Family CareWhy am I involved as an agent of change? Well, I don’t have many skills but I am vaguely able to look at the world around me and draw my own conclusions. And one of the things that I’ve realised in a number of ways, and over a number of years, is that women are, just, better at lots of stuff. Here’s my story and why I’m passionate about gender equality.

I started out as a lawyer at a big City firm. I worked out a few things quite quickly, one of them being that I wasn’t cut out to be a lawyer. But there were a few other observations that left a lasting impression. Pretty much all the partners were white, male, knackered and divorced. Sure, there were a few women in the mix, but, to be honest, they were largely indistinguishable from the men. Yet when I looked at my peers – the 30 other bright eyed graduates who started with me – the women were generally just a little bit better. Slightly cleverer with slightly better concentration skills. Incongruous to say the least.

My next lightbulb moment happened when my bother I and started our own business. We had plans to revolutionise the world of childcare and set up a nanny agency called Tinies. The first couple of years were horrible. They didn’t start getting better until a woman arrived in the form of Amanda Coxen. Amanda came top of my year at law school. Largely thanks to her brain, vision and work ethic, Tinies now employs 500 people, has 70 agencies, crèches and nurseries across the UK and is a success story.

More recently we started My Family Care which provides emergency childcare and online maternity coaching to about 150 of the UK’s biggest and best employers (clients include the likes of Google, IBM, SKY and PwC). I like to think that more by judgement than luck – this time – that the business is run by some amazing women. Four of the six directors are working mothers. It’s a brilliant, focussed, slightly frightening team – I am glad I work with them rather than against them!

Finally, there is the personal side. My older children are boy-girl twins. She is bright, conscientious and hugely competitive with her brother. The thought that that she would not have equal chances in life as her sibling – or more importantly, be able to make an equal contribution to the world they are growing up in – well, that would be crazy. So, for my part, it’s obvious and natural to do whatever I can to help level the playing the field for women. Equality means we will not only be happier, but we will be a bit richer as well.

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