Can Women’s Rugby Learn From The Business World?

Women’s Rugby should be celebrating as the World Cup comes to an end and the sport has finally attracted more of the fans and the profile it deserves.

Instead there is an ongoing struggle over whether the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) strategy to take the game forward over the next four years is the right one. And indeed there is a very real concern another sporting body is refusing to properly support its women and more needs to be done to support the players.

Despite the massive talent that so clearly exists, it would be naïve to pretend Women’s Rugby is as well supported as Men’s and we all have a part to play in changing that.

While there will always be people who are quick to favour men over women or vice versa we have to realise how far the sport of Rugby Union has come in the last 30 years and we need to be encouraging it to come even further.

Sport is often seen as a microcosm of society, but while we might all like to think we live in a modern world of fairness and equality, there is no getting away from the fact both on the rugby field and in the business world, woman often have to fight harder than their male counterparts to gain recognition.

You cannot look at a newspaper these days without reading about yet another industry where it has been revealed that male staff are routinely paid more than their female counterparts for the same job. Even institutions like the BBC, which should be leading the way, have proved they have a lot of work to do.

The trend continues at a leadership level, where we know in the UK there are still far more men than women CEOs and when your look closer at different industries and parts of the country that disparity can become even greater.

As someone who runs his own business with both male and female clients, I think it is important than we champion women in business. But I also think we should not simply look at the situation in terms of percentages and numbers of each, we should look at the vital things both sexes bring to the table.

Extensive studies have shown male entrepreneurs are much more willing to take risks with a venture than female ones and they are more willing to fail in business than their female counterparts.

We are also told men in business are more goal oriented and women are more focussed on the happiness of their staff – both of which have obvious merits.

Studies also tell us women are more aware of hazards and more risk adverse in general than male business leaders and perhaps that is why they are allegedly slower to make decisions in general.

Even aspects of management like motivation are very different between the sexes. Men tend to run a business focused on economy and cost and women are more likely to be concentrating on quality and making a social contribution.

These are all valid ways to run a business and while they might make for interesting reading and discussion they fail to take into account the individuality of human nature and the things that make each of us the person we are and take the decisions we do.

As a successful businessman who does accounts and bookkeeping for a wide range or companies I am often asked, “Who is better in business men or women?”

I have female clients who I frequently have to chase for their paperwork, but in truth just as many men in the same boat. I have female clients who really care about their staff and men who care just as much.

I have female clients who buck the trends and are confident with risk and male clients that shy away from it entirely.

As a bookkeeper, what you want from a client is someone who cares about what they do and who wants to do it better. You want a client with determination and energy who sees the bigger picture and who recognises you are there to help. You want enthusiasm and energy, someone who sees accountancy and bookkeeping as the vital service it is, who is a team player and who sees me as an integral part of their team.

A good client is like a good rugby player – they could be male, female or even identify as gender neutral as long as they have passion and a will to succeed. The job of a good bookkeeper should echo that of a good sports body: simply to do everything they can to make that happen – and that’s exactly what I do every day for all of my clients.