“I don’t believe in glass ceilings” Jennifer Houghton, Non-Executive Director, Santander International

“I don’t believe in glass ceilings”

Jennifer Houghton is a highly successful chartered director holding board positions including managing director, finance director and company secretary. She is Chair of the IoD for the Isle of Man and believes women have more control over their careers than they realise.

“From my own experience and that of other women on boards I know, I believe women are more in control of progressing to board level positions than they might think. I don’t believe in glass ceilings.

Of course, there’s more society can do to help women. Recognising that more diverse businesses impact the bottom line is one important action. Another is educating girls to have more self-belief and encouraging them to study STEM subjects at school and beyond.

Women need to have the courage to believe in themselves and break the glass ceiling; if you’re determined there’s a way to push through.”

Here are Jennifer’s top tips for women aspiring to the board room:

Work hard and keep learning

Working hard, believing in yourself and surrounding yourself with people you admire is a good place to start. It’s important to follow your own style and to keep learning. 31% of Isle of Man IoD members are women, but only 10% are Chartered Directors. I took the Chartered Director course at the age of 59 because there is always something new to learn.

Make a plan

There are no short cuts so you’ll need a plan. Ask yourself “where do I see myself in three years? What do I need to do to get there?” And then check in regularly to see that you are still on track to achieve your goals.

Find people you respect

Seeking out organisations with a culture which matches your own values is also helpful. Dealing with cultural differences in organisations is a necessary part of working, but when you surround yourself with the right people – good people whom you aspire to – the more you can be your authentic self and the more impact you can have.

Believe in yourself and take risks

There are some people who just exude more confidence in what they do. Perhaps they tend to be more extroverted for example – and that’s good, unless that confidence becomes a sense of entitlement. Many surveys have shown that a majority of women tend to be more cautious in their approach and more likely to experience ‘imposter syndrome’, so dare to take a chance and say yes to opportunities.

The IoD provides a supporting and inclusive membership environment for women who are, or aspire to be Board Directors. It is also the only organisation in the UK to offer a Chartered Director qualification.

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.

Creating an inclusive and diverse workplace

Browse valuable diversity resources from the IoD.
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