Let’s begin with a story. Some years ago, as a freshly minted senior journalist, I was introduced to a director at an event. I reached out to shake his hand, he gave me his bag. He’d mistaken me for one of the event staff. Later, after a lively debate with another attendee, we were waiting to collect our coats. Both heads down, checking our emails, I made it to the front of the queue and felt a tap on my shoulder. He handed me what I thought was his business card – it was his cloakroom ticket.
Neither of those men were being deliberately rude; they were both mortified when they realised. But it’s stories like these, and the ones outlined in our cover feature, that show the unconscious biases we all have are particularly unhelpful in how we value, judge and treat women in leadership positions. It’s something to bear in mind when, in 2021, there are still only 17 female CEOs in the FTSE 350. In order to truly flourish, we must not constrain our talent.
This also applies to our start-ups. While the UK’s entrepreneurial culture has made it one of the world’s most fertile grounds for unicorns, some worry a concurrent conservatism hampers many more that are waiting in the shadows. In this issue, we look at how to remove the shackles and pick the most promising “futurecorns”.