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What It Means to Be a Woman in 2018: Caroline Neville

To celebrate 100 years of Suffrage in the UK, we’re asking a host of women of note to answer our Q&A

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President of Cosmetic Executive Women and founder of PR agency Neville McCarthy, Caroline Neville answers our ‘what it means to be a woman in 2018’ Q&A, to mark 100 years of suffrage; the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed on 6 February 1918.

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Caroline Neville

Caroline Neville Q&A

It’s been 100 years since women were granted the right to vote in the UK – how far do you think women have come in the last century?

My generation of women have made great strides towards economic independence which has offered us more freedom and more choices. As we celebrate the suffragettes this year we have to be grateful for everything they did and achieved for us. Women today are more than capable than ever of reaching the top. Some women choose not to focus solely on a career and that’s fine too – as long as you work hard at what you want to do there is no longer a ‘glass ceiling’ for women in today’s society.

What does it mean to be a woman in 2018?

We are fortunate to be women in 2018. We are healthier, we live longer, we are better educated and we are better off. However, we do not have to beat ourselves up trying to be “Superwoman”. It’s a misnomer. I have a real admiration for working mothers. Those who struggle but get through it however they can – they are the real superwomen in my book!

What do women still need to achieve?

Women need to determine what they want to do with their lives as early as possible on completing their education. Women need to be proactive and make the decision to be something.

Background is irrelevant. If it is going to be the Executive route remember it’s a tough demanding job juggling your professional and home life. If it’s the entrepreneurial route do what I did get a good early start (age 20 in my case), give yourself a lot of publicity, and this will give you a flying start. Women are already achieving amazing things across all sectors we just have to keep it up!

Your personal proudest achievement?

My personal proudest moments were celebrating over 50 years of running my Public Relations Company in 2012, before handing my business over to my son and daughter to take forward. Also, celebrating 50 years of marriage in 2015 which has been a major factor in my success. I always had someone to come home to for comfort and support if things were tough. I think it makes a huge difference to have a stable and loving relationship. I am also incredibly proud to have been the President of CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) for the last 20 years which is the leading organisation for women (and more recently men) working in the beauty industry. I am in my mid 70s now and being President of CEW is a position I am proud to still hold today.

Founded in 1992, CEW now boasts more than 1,100 members in the United Kingdom, from the beauty industry and related fields. We work to bring the beauty community together from every facet of the industry including our ‘younger executives’ who we nurture and mentor throughout every stage of their career. Seeing our younger executives thrive is one of the most rewarding parts of my role at CEW. In 2014 I also began championing an initiative to get the contribution the beauty industry makes to the UK economy recognised by the Government. To that end I have recently had meetings at No 10 and will be engaging with them to take our campaign forward. Watch this space!

If you could teach young women one thing about being it woman it would be…

That you can’t have it all, but you can have a full and successful life if you work hard. Establish your career early on and be as good as you can. If you go on to have a family then think carefully how you are going to manage your most prized procession, your child, with your job. In my book family should always be your priority.

And if you could teach young men one thing…

When I had my first child in 1967 men did not take the baby out in the pram or change nappies, they went to work. Nowadays it is a completely different picture (thank goodness!). So many couples share child rearing and some men also become ‘Stay at home Fathers’ allowing their wives to work if this is what works best for them and their family. I would encourage young men to share life’s ups and downs with their other halves and always compromise to make for a peaceful and harmonious life.

In the next 100 years, I hope women will…

As far as I can see the next decade will be the decade of women and it will only grow from there. The anniversary of 100 Years of Suffrage has really resonated with many younger women who realise the price that was paid for our rights and freedom today. Taking the industry I represent – hundreds of thousands of businesses in the UK are owned by women, many will be in the beauty and wellbeing industry. On another level we are seeing radical change in countries where women frankly were not seen or heard. Countries are beginning to realise that women can play a major part of a well-educated workforce. We additionally need women to act as role models for the younger generations worldwide which I hope will be common place in the not too distant future.

CEW is one of the World’s leading beauty organisations and is passionate about supporting women and all brands in the beauty industry, big and small. Caroline has over 45 years experience in the beauty business and 60 years experience in PR. She is also a Freeman of the City of London as well as a member of the Worshipful company of Framework Knitters. 

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