All that glitters is not gold

April 29, 2024
Posted by
Ruby Soeterboek

Recently, I found myself nominated as a finalist in the Illawarra Women in Business Awards for Business Woman of the Year and Best Small Business for Beans Marketing.

This was, of course, a proud moment. The recognition is a testament to the dedication of our incredible team, the support and trust of our clients, and the supportive community around us.

Reflecting on these nominations, speaking to my peers, and moving through the process of multiple panel interviews has opened my perspective - and left me with some questions…

How do you create a standard criteria for these awards? How can this standard criteria reflect the diverse industries and activities each business is involved and contributing to? 

And furthermore, what constitutes a business woman?

I am inspired by business leaders - of course. But equally important are the dedicated team members working within every business, the selfless mothers putting their family first, the unpaid coaches, mentors and advocates within our community, as well as all the devoted friends and family members.

While I am very grateful to be a finalist, I also want to acknowledge this process and the title in itself. Is this something that truly celebrates our successes? Or does it pit ourselves against each other?

The judging conundrum

As a general observation, the inner workings of award criteria in society at large, are often closely guarded secrets, with notable divergence in the approach across different organisations and sectors.

Some use hard metrics, while others take a more subjective approach. 

Either way, one thing is clear - this is not a simple or easy process.

The complexity of judging such diverse elements leads us to question whether the criteria can truly capture the essence of every nominated individuals unique contributions, and the context they exist in. 

Even with a perfect criteria, the subjectivity of the process as a whole, can often leave it open to human bias and prejudice.

Visibility versus impact

Those who really miss out when it comes to industry awards tend to be the quiet achievers. The ones who don’t attend networking events, or voice all their wins and charitable contributions on Linkedin or the various other social media channels. 

They may be behind the scenes, they may never have a voice in meetings, but they are the glue, the ones who hold it all together, sometimes invisible, but always essential.

They show the value of self-improvement and resilience, breaking free from the typical idea of competition, to reshape the meaning of success.

In a world that often encourages comparison, I believe that those who choose to challenge themselves rather than others, are the true winners. 

The rewarding parts

While the end game may be a shiny plaque or trophy, it is the journey that offers the real reward. 

Going through a series of evaluations throughout this award and judging process has prompted self reflection. It has allowed me to pause and contemplate the significant projects our team, and Beans, have been so fortunate to contribute to over the past 3 years as a business.

Running a business is similar in a way. Being stuck in ‘the daily grind’ provides little opportunity for introspection. There is often no clear beginning and no defined end, but simply days that make weeks, weeks that make months, and so on.

Final thoughts

My biggest takeaway from this experience, is that it is important to think about what it means to win. To look further than hard numbers or accolades, and appreciate the beauty in the challenges we overcome. Turning to a more collective view, catalysing broader success and collaboration, to encourage an environment where every contributor feels acknowledged, inspired and embraces their inner winner.

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