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Bricks should only be used to smash the glass ceiling

Bricks should only be used to smash the glass ceiling

A small salute to great women in business everywhere, out there, running great companies and being generally tremendous!

US House of Representatives

Testosterone – the most lingering scent in the US House of Representatives

I have been inspired to write a celebratory blog post about women in business, mainly in light of a photo that was circulating on social media showing President-elect Trump with a line of men rumoured to be his closest political aides with not a woman in sight. He has announced his Presidential Transition Team, which includes his daughter Ivanka, and three other women out of a total of approximately 25 or so.

The world already knows that Donald J Trump is fond of women, overly fond in some cases, but only if they meet his criteria (based almost solely on age, looks and weight), so it’s probably no surprise that women aren’t present in vast numbers in his closest team. Women in business in Trump’s eyes are surely merely decorative. I’ve read that Trumps actually values women workers, but some of the facts would dispute this.

For example, following the release of the appalling video clearly showing Trump’s sexist remarks in 2005, and ongoing USA TODAY investigation, has outlined 4000 lawsuits that are pending against him. Many of these are because he and his company have maintained a culture that mistreated women. According to USA TODAY, “Allegations outlined in at least 20 separate lawsuits accuse Trump and managers at his companies of discriminating against women, ignoring sexual harassment complaints and even participating in the harassment themselves.”

But here in the UK, let’s not feel smug and complacent. Women still only make up seven out of 100 bosses heading up the companies on the London Stock Exchange.

Women face being denigrated and overlooked every day in both the UK and the USA. It’s astounding that the glass ceiling is still in place in the twenty-first century and yet it is. Yes, a handful of women make it to the top, but many are forced to fall by the wayside.

If you’re looking for inspiration, in celebration of the women in business who do get to the top, I’ve compiled a short list of the go-getters and the getting-there. Remember these examples aren’t just business women who got to the top, they are superb business people. We can all learn from them, no matter whether we’re male or female or some shade in between.

Helen Parker
Helen Parker is the Chief Exec of Bid on This, and the CEO of Wholesale Forums. She describes herself as “an energetic, enthusiastic and experienced business manager specialising in all things digital,” with a natural passion for solving human problems using technology and her background in psychology, change management and online development.

"I’ve had people ringing up refusing to believe I’m the owner because I’m a woman"

“I’ve had people ringing up refusing to believe I’m the owner because I’m a woman”

Bid on This (see it here) is an online bidding platform – a virtual auction house, and Trade Intellect, is the eCommerce company specialising in wholesale trading using the key website of TheWholesaleForums. This is a community and trading platform for wholesalers, retailers and eBay Power Sellers. You can find it here . Recently Helen was the recipient of an award for the Best General eCommerce website of 2016, and the eCommerce Awards held in London. She competed against eleven other finalists, including O2, Jack Daniels, HMV, Karen Millen and Amazon.
Helen admits it is a tough climate for women in business. “It’s always going to feel like a challenge making your way when you’re outside the norm – such as in a male-dominated world such as wholesale and trade – I’ve had people ringing up refusing to believe I’m the owner because I’m a woman and saying “no, no, I want to speak to the man in charge”. But, on the other hand, you’re more memorable, most business owners are forward thinking, and when you’re making people money – gender becomes irrelevant.”

Audrey Odell
Audrey is the founder and Chief Executive of Logma Systems, trading as OneFit Software. She started the business in 1978 and now works closely with the team on “design, quality control and market suitability assessments to support the volume delivery of innovative software” aimed at the SME market. She now employs 30 full time staff, including apprentices and graduates. The software is implemented across many industries, including: Logistics, manufacturing, wholesale, retail and ecommerce.

In 2015 Audrey won the award for a Decade of Excellence in the Lancashire Women in Business Awards.

Annabel Kilner
Having worked as an intern at L’Oreal during her final summer at University, Kilner was well placed to launch her career on graduation. Kilner launched her career as marketing manager at innovation consultancy FreshMinds and then started up the company’s retail division. Mentored by Brent Hoberman of Lastminute.com she recognised that e-commerce was her future. They worked together at Mydeco.com and she in now Commercial Director at Made.com – the online designer furniture brand. Kilner has helped to boost turnover from £26.2m in 2013 to £42.7m in 2015 and the company is now the second fastest-growing tech business in the country.

Alexandra Depledge, MBE
Entrepreneur living in London, Alexandra is currently working with Index Ventures, The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec), and Ignite100. Describing herself as someone “who gets stuff done” she was previously the CEO & Co-Founder of Hassle.com – Europe’s largest marketplace for domestic cleaners, that matched ‘busy working professionals with local trusted cleaners’ and was committed to improving the fortunes of the cleaners on its books, by encouraging their entrepreneurial skills. Alexandra was Tech City’s Entrepreneur of the Year, 2014 and Hassle.com won ‘Best Sharing Economy Business’ at the Europa’s in 2015.

Applies to all of us in SMEs, surely and not just women in business?

Applies to all of us in SMEs, surely?

Lizz Clarke
Lizz Clarke is the recipient of 2016’s Venus award for Lifetime Achievement. She is a marketing specialist who, over the past 26 years, has helped many hundreds of companies to be more successful, through integrated marketing strategies, stunning graphic design and clever copywriting, and effective web, digital and PR implementation. In one memorable week, Lizz remembers that she and her team were able to develop, “three new brand names, and the customers involved are looking at £multi-million returns on the investment they have made.” She works with a broad section of organisations including manufacturers and wholesalers in a variety of industries, and is a Growth Accelerator accredited coach. If you’re looking for added oomph for your business, Lizz is the professional you need.

Gemma (Trevartha) Richards
Gemma is the Marketing Manager at Fluid Branding based in Falmouth, Cornwall, a company that provide creative branded merchandise solutions for top companies across Europe. She is a creative marketer who has worked with branded merchandise for 16 years on both the supplier and distributor sides. Currently responsible for optimising external communications including brochures, promotional products, PR, email marketing and social media, and managing content, events and exhibitions. Gemma’s specialities include: Marketing, Branding and identity, promotional products, PR, client relationships and customer experience, communication, advertising, brochures, email marketing, CRM, marketing automation, content marketing and social media marketing.

Gemma is the recipient of awards for: British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) Campaign of the Year 2014, BPMA Website of the Year Award 2015, BPMA Marketing Campaign of the Year 2016 and best marketing campaign of the year 2016 – for implementing and marketing – Fluid Rewards, Fluid Branding’s Customer Loyalty Programme.

Veronique Laury
Laury was once a showjumper and horse rider, but after studying law and politics in Paris, she decided to abandon hope of a political career and instead joined a French home improvements retailer in 1988. There, she managed the lighting and tiling departments of a large shop in northern France. She went to work for Kingfisher in 2003 as a product director, and worked her way up to commercial director of B&Q in 2010. She became head of Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and the biggest home improvements retailer in Europe, in January 2015. She has three children and lives in France.

Over to you
I’d like to add more> Send me the suggestions for any other phenomenal women in business – tell me the company and why they are great and I’ll add them. Comment below, or come and see us on Facebook here 🙂

One Response to “Women in business who are top trumps!”

Lizz ClarkeNovember 20th, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Thank you Karl for mentioning me. One awesome woman in business is Jan Ward, Chair of Corrotherm International. She is an engineer by training and her £multi-million global business is in special metals for major industrial projects. She received a CBE recently for services to business.

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