As part of our support for International Women’s Day “Choose to Challenge”, we invited women in leadership to discuss their views on gender inequality and related issues. Besides hearing from some of our own female leaders, we also reached out to inspiring women from other businesses. For this #IWD2021 Ringside, we listened to Kirsty Hulse, world-leading confidence coach and motivational speaker.
Kirsty founded her first company at 26, a marketing agency which turned over nearly a million dollars in its first year of trading. Since then she has become a highly qualified coach, accredited meditation teacher, and an expert at helping people achieve their full potential.
With Roar!, Kirsty has delivered training programmes to audiences of over 14,000 and her work has been described as “game changing” and “life changing”. She has spoken in some of the world’s largest arenas in over 30 countries and recently presented on improving creativity at perhaps the most creative place on earth, Walt Disney World. Kirsty is also a standup comedian and brings this passion for humour into her work.
Kirsty, what’s been the driving force to get you where you are today, and have you benefited from having any personal mentors?
I have a few different motivators when it comes to work. Firstly, I am quite financially driven. I grew up in a household with a big family where money was a big cause of stress and arguments and worries, so I am driven to not be in that situation. I think, especially as women, we can think it’s somehow wrong to be driven by money but I’ve really reconciled this – I know that the more resources I have, the more good I can do in this world. So making a lot of cold hard cash (ha) is definitely a driving force for me.
Another big driver for me is a desire to lift women by example. I am so bored of being censored or shamed or shrunk, so I guess I like to model what we can do when we care a little less about other people’s perceptions and allow ourselves to be fully expressed.
And yes to personal mentors! When I was running my first business, quite a large digital marketing agency, I was a sole founder and internalised that I could do it all. I didn’t seek help. I didn’t source advice or support. That was a big lesson I learnt from that. Now I surround myself with coaches, friends, mentors who are a few steps ahead of me, so they can help lift me too.
Are there any initiatives from inside or outside your organisation that you think make a substantive difference in addressing the gender pay gap and open up opportunities for females to progress in their careers?
No. I don’t think there is, not substantive. I think it’s a long, tedious, ongoing process of completely undoing hundreds of years of marginalisation. There’s a quote I once heard that I have since tried to source and can’t find (if anyone knows the source please share with me!) something like a senior female politician was asked when would women finally feel as though they had gender parity and the response was “when there’s no male politicians for 500 years and nobody notices”.
Why do you think we still have so few female leaders (vs. male as a percentage of total leadership) across so many sectors?
It depends where in the world you are but I think unequal childcare policies is huge. I think women are constantly subject to bias (this has been well documented even in recent research) that qualities of leadership are more associated with men. That we’re still operating with outdated preconceptions about a woman’s role in the workplace.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work-life balance and responsibilities outside of work? Any words of wisdom you can share on how you’ve managed the past 12 months?
I have been working for myself and running remote teams since 2016, so for me I haven’t personally experienced any big shifts as I had to go through that process a few years ago. Though I would say that working from home is not simply working the same hours, in the same way, just from a different place. It is a fundamental shift and we have to allow a lot more room for flexibility when people are navigating their emotional wellness, parental duties and no clear distinction between work and home. For me I think what is most important to remember is that those things we think get in the way of our productivity, are in fact the only way we can maintain it.
Originally published Mar 18, 2021, updated Mar 19, 2021