Empowering Women In Business: An Interview With Virgin’s Danni Rush

CEO Today speaks to Danni Rush, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Incentives, about the obstacles women in business face, female mentorship, and what businesses can do to support women in leadership roles. 

What would you say are the biggest obstacles preventing women from reaching higher positions in business?

Firstly, being really clear on what you want and when you want it. There is still an expectation, in a lot of partnerships, that women have lots to balance between work, home, family etc and they don’t always spend time getting really clear on what they actually want for themselves. Once women are clear on their personal goals, they need to build self-belief and confidence, and push themselves forward and find inspiring mentors! When you don’t see ‘people like you’ in senior positions, it becomes a challenge to visualise yourself there and that can really hold people back.

Many women struggle to find a mentor to support them in their career journey. Have you ever received any form of mentoring? Is it something that you believe is important?

Yes, I have and I think it was career-changing for me. I have worked with and for several inspiring leaders that I have learnt so much from, and I have participated in more formal mentoring schemes with a focus on areas of development/coaching. Reverse mentoring has been great for me too, it’s helped me grow in ways that I may never have thought about before. I believe that mentoring can take on many forms.  Watching people around you have successes or navigate challenges well, and then asking them to help you think about how you can apply their behaviours or ways of working to your situations is very powerful. I’m always really keen to offer up my time to mentor or coach team members and more often than not we get a mutual benefit.

In your opinion, what more can businesses do to support women in leadership roles?

Support on confidence and credibility building, and transparent communication.  If you are an expert in your field and you are confident, you start to feel very empowered. I also think it’s important to highlight the skills and behaviours that good women leaders bring and communicate why it makes good business sense to have them as part of their leadership team.

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