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100 FSB Women for IWD

Yesterday, 8 March 2018 marked International Women’s Day (IWD), a global celebration of women’s social, political and cultural achievements, while still pushing for progress for future generations. In the last year, we’ve seen women from all walks of life stand up and start the conversation on issues that women still face, from gender equality, to fair pay and sexual assaults. This year’s theme is #PressForProgress, a call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity.

Thanks to two recent big social media campaigns – #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the call for change this year has not gone unnoticed.

I am a member of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and am also on its Diversity Taskforce, and this year the FSB created a very strong and inspiring digital campaign to raise the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs. It’s called 100 FSB Women. These women come from all sectors and each has a special story to tell and valuable advice to impart to other women.

2018 is the 100-year anniversary of when the first women got the right to vote, following the suffragettes’ campaigning, and the FSB felt it was fitting to feature 100 women FSB members and share their wealth of advice and inspiration with women all over the world.

I am very proud to be alongside these women and be part of this 100 and for my business tip to be featured by Business Leader.

The UK currently has 5.7 million small businesses and self-employed, but it is estimated that could be boosted by a further 1.2 million new enterprises led by women. This untapped business potential of women can be tackled, in part, by increasing the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs, according to a recent FSB report.

Sadly and perhaps unfairly, research shows that women are less likely than their male counterparts to know a person in business and, as a result, have fewer opportunities to benefit from exposure to others with business experience and are less likely to see people like themselves succeeding.

Entrepreneurship was once considered a man’s domain but this is changing throughout the world – Nigeria now outranks the US and the UK in terms of percentage of entrepreneurs among women with a rate of 41% for the African country against 10% and 5.7% for the two developed countries respectively.

Yet women in Nigeria and other developing economies have shown to be 20% less likely than men to have a bank account and 17% less likely to have borrowed formally. Factors such as legal restrictions on women to open bank accounts without a male relative’s authorization are a challenge for women in the region.

While IWD is now over till next year, our work to press for progress continues – today, tomorrow, the day after that and the day after that… and the last verse of the poem, The Woods Are Lovely Dark And Deep by Robert Foster springs to mind…

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

It’s March!

It has taken me three months to get down to writing this post…three months into this year and that’s because so much has been happening since we started 2018…from bringing two like-minded organisations together to create and launch a library in the City of London; to being invite back again by the Mayor’s office to speak about being a London business and the need for diversity; to helping a client participate in a London China expo to working on some exciting launches including the media campaign for a business book called The Responsive Leader written by an influential thought-leader, Erik Korsvik Østergaard, who is making waves with his new book.

While all this has been going on we have had the #Metoo and #TimesUp social media campaigns have gone viral and as I write, we are heading towards International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March.

Findings from reports tell us that gender parity is over 200 years away; which is why there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress – this year’s IWD theme. There is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

To help mark this day the FSB is raising the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs with an international digital campaign called 100 FSB Women. As part of this initiative Serendipity PR is actively supporting the FSB Women’s London network; and we have helped source one of its speakers and organised a free business book for attendees. This special book is called Read My Lips by Swedish TV personality Elaine Eksvard, published by our client, LID Publishing. Wouldn’t life be easier if we could get people to listen to us in every situation? This book teaches us how to persuade our listeners, be professional and personal, without being private. Eskvard is best-selling author of Ruling Technique, Living Power and Talk Nice.

I will end with this wonderful comment from Helen Mirren who was speaking about #MeToo and #TimesUp to The New York Times and said, “It’s an amazing moment isn’t it? I’ve never wanted to be younger than I am, but the only thing that makes me think God, I wish I was 18 now, is 18 year olds are coming into a very different world.”

 

 

International Women’s Day: #BeBoldForChange

 

This year there is so much for us to shout about and our voices to be heard on, from – equal pay, supporting women in business, Trump and more. This year International Women’s Day on 8 March is asking everyone to #BeBoldForChange, urging us all to help forge a better working world – a more inclusive, gender equal world.

We know that progress has been slow and that we need international action to accelerate gender parity. The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186! This is just too long to wait. This 8 March provides an important opportunity for ground-breaking action that can truly drive greater change for women.

There are many initiatives and people doing vital work to help create this needed change, and I had the opportunity to interview Jane Shepherdson, MBE, a leading figure in fashion retail, former CEO of Whistles and prior to that, Brand Director at Topshop. Jane supporting young designers through the London College of Fashion’s Centre of Fashion Enterprise and has helped promote Fair Trade fashion to a wider audience as a Board member of Peopletree until 2013.

Jane is also Creative Advisor to Oxfam and a patron of the charity Smart Works, a service that offers free professional clothing and job interview training to women. I spoke with Shepherdson about her role at Smart Works and what this charity is all about from her perspective. Read the full interview.

Photo Credit: International Women’s Day