Taking the lead - celebrating women at the top

Elaine's story

The female lead - celebrating women at the top

Breaking the bias is this year’s theme for International Women’s Day. With a 50:50 male-female split on our executive leadership team, and above-average female representation in leadership roles, we’re celebrating the powerful women who are setting the tone for our continued growth.

"You’re on the right track if you trust your instincts and know that your opinion matters. It also helps to be humble and kind but also tough, when it’s needed."

Elaine Morrison, Interim Director of Place

Elaine's story

“I’ve been in my current role for just over half a year, but I’ve been with Scottish Enterprise and its predecessor since I left school in the late eighties. It was an apprenticeship scheme and I joined in a general administrative role (because that’s what my teacher told me to do) before moving into admin in the legal department for many years. I then studied to become a paralegal in conveyancing – I was one of the first cohort of people to take that course at the University of Strathclyde.  

Now, as Interim Director for Place, we look at external infrastructure – the use of land and buildings for business purposes. It’s about strategic planning, we look at how we can build something that doesn’t just host people in jobs but supports a supply chain and sustains communities. Alongside this work, we also have a responsibility for tourism, creative industries, as well as our rural agenda and most importantly, our engagement with regional economic partnerships. It’s a big remit.  

Unlearning stereotypes

When I started work in the late 80s, most of the people in leadership positions were men. Nowadays it’s far more balanced but we need to keep working towards addressing bias in general – in all forms. It can be subconscious, stemming from TV and books we digest as children to the point that we might think it doesn’t apply to us.

I used to be regularly involved in a cross-party group in the Scottish Parliament on women in business. One of the discussions focused on the need for people to be able to see themselves as being a user of a service.  With Women’s Enterprise Scotland, we looked at our own web content and noticed that the imagery was predominantly of men – that can be off-putting to some people.

Harnessing change 

That was a lesson in trying to inspire people to see themselves in opportunities – if something’s being promoted, and most people feel excluded because they’re not represented, then you’re shutting off access to a multitude of ideas and experience. Diversity of opinion in important. Any time you bring together people with different points of view – a mix of ideas, gender, race, sexuality, religion and age – you invite challenge and change. It’s healthy  – all that energy can create something quite powerful. 

It can take time to find your voice, though. To speak up when you’re starting out in your career is challenging, whatever your gender. I used to go to conferences and sit there with a burning question, but I’d be a bundle of nerves, in a group of people I didn’t know. Over time, I came to realise that most people feel the same and now, I make a point of being one of the first people to ask a question. I’ve noticed this encourages others to talk and it gets ideas flowing."

Get to know more of our inspiring female leaders

Linda Murray, Director of Strategy

Why breaking bias boosts greater innovation and ambition.

Alyson-Russell Stevenson, Head of Marketing and Engagement

How the pandemic has highlighted the need for flexible working.

Michelle Kinnaird, Head of Investment Management

How building ecosystems with entrepreneurial diversity boosts productivity.

Ana Gallardo, Team Leader, Entrepreneurial Development

Start-ups, social enterprises and how women are making a difference.

Encourage diversity in your workplace

Be empowered to make your workplace more innovative, productive and profitable by reading our Team Optimisation and Workplace Innovation guidance.

You can also use the Fair Work Employer Support Tool to assess your own company's practices. 

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