Be on your best behaviour, we have visitors…

It's always appropriate to be on your best behaviour when you have guests coming for tea
Roseann Kelly

DO you remember the fussing that preceded the imminent arrival of ‘visitors'? It was all hands-on deck as the house was re- cleaned; children's hands and knees were checked and, of course, everyone was warned to be on their best behaviour. Good behaviour was never a problem though, as we knew there would be dividends.

Guests never came empty-handed. They brought either cake or chocolates and always sweets for the kids. And there were our own preparations, delicious sandwiches, biscuits and buns, always too much of course. So, we had treats long after they left…

Following the Women in Business key partner relationship with Fujitsu; the launch of our gender diversity Charter Mark supported by Allstate; recent attendance at a diversity round table hosted by the Equality Commission and Alexander Mann Solutions; an earlier partnership with Herbert Smith Freehalls; and participation by Baker McKenzie in our women returners pilot programme, I've come to the conclusion that our FDIs are Northern Ireland Plc's ‘visitors'.

At every round table on diversity and inclusion, and on corporate social responsibility, you will see our FDIs - Fujitsu, Alexander Mann Solutions, Allstate, Citi, Baker McKenzie, Herbert Smith Freehall and the list goes on, all seated at the table, taking the lead and sharing best practice. They are global companies who are ahead of most of our indigenous companies in these areas, and they inspire us step up.

They put best practice on the table and lead on it. They are more cognisant of the business benefits of best behaviours. They come to Northern Ireland, they make us embrace better behaviours and in doing so we get best practice on the agenda for everyone. The visitor dividend pays, we behave and continue to behave.

When FDIs arrive, we celebrate the jobs and investment (that's the cake and sweets they bring). But what of the longer-term benefits left behind, the attitudes, the flexibility, the progressive and innovative business concepts? These are the treats that are left over after the visit…

Remember the impact of the visits of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Senator George Mitchell, the G8, and the World Police & Fire Games? We did not want to be the squabbling, misbehaving kids in front of the visitors, so we stepped up and we were great.

Our other visitors - tourists - have helped create jobs and opportunities in terms of tours, new restaurants and hotels. They again ensure the sweets are brought out, and we gain after they have left because we go to top restaurants and hotels too.

Women in Business support business women to reach their full potential and achieve their ambitions with a view to creating a new economy through inclusive growth.

We are a charity, and because of one of our visitor's values, best practice and policies with the third sector, we got all the cake and sweets they brought - free office space within their dynamic Belfast offices.

So let's continue to welcome as many visitors as we can, up our game and, most importantly, behave at the top level all the time.

:: Roseann Kelly (roseann@ is chief executive of Women in Business (, the largest and fastest growing business network for female entrepreneurs and senior women in management in Northern Ireland, with 2,500 members spread throughout all industry sectors. Follow Women in Business NI on Facebook at or on Twitter @wibni.

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