Role models for success


Every autumn we are privileged to be involved in judging the NatWest everywoman Awards which recognises the achievements of Britain’s most successful female entrepreneurs.   It’s pretty humbling stuff. Firstly to be surrounded by entrepreneurial royalty for the day – The White Company’s Chrissie Rucker, Cath Kidston, Amanda Wakeley and many other incredibly successful women make up the judging panel. But mostly for the extraordinary stories of achievement in the face of adversity that never fail to overwhelm us.

This year’s finalists were as impressive as ever – the serial entrepreneur who had sacrificed her home during her journey to the top; the woman who combines profit with strong environmental and social ethics; the redundant stock broker who turned her back on the City to start multi-million pound gift company; and the recruiter who is passionate about helping offenders back into the workplace.

All 22 finalists share the common bond of passion. Passion for their business, for their teams and for their brand. They are extraordinary role models and we need more like them to show other women how rewarding enterprise can be.

Hillary Clinton was once quoted as saying that “women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world”. As we storm towards the most controversial US election in years we could yet see the first female President of the United States working alongside the UK’s second female Prime Minister. Along with Germany’s Angela Merkel that would mean three of the world’s top five economies are headed by women. This can only be good news for the gender diversity lobby, but it doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. Women make up 49% of the global workforce, but one third of global businesses still have no women in senior management positions. Until we can increase the number of female start ups to the same numbers of men, until we can have female role models and mentors at every stage of the talent pipeline and, just maybe, until we have a woman in the White House, the business world will be poorer.

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