Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Guest blog: Encouraging male allies in the workplace

Kirsty Hulse, founder of Roar Training, is on a mission to level the professional playing field with her confidence, communication and allies workshops. She's penned us a guest blog on how male colleagues can better navigate the nuances of what it means to be a "good ally" to women in the workplace...

Kirsty Hulse, founder of Roar Training

It is no secret that the number of women in power is significantly less than men. In fact, according to the 2019 Female FTSE Index, only 8.6% of executive directorships in FTSE 250 companies are women. Meaning, that ultimately, over 91% of these positions are held by men. What this means, is that whilst women continue to take up space in business and boardrooms, we need additional support from our male allies to increasingly free up space at the table.

This, however, is no easy feat. Often women (myself included) resist reaching out for help for fear of being perceived as weak or vulnerable and likewise, well meaning men can often have a lack of clarity when knowing what to do in order to better support their female coworkers.

Over the course of my career, I have interacted with dozens, if not hundreds, of well-intentioned individuals who struggle to navigate the nuances of what it means to be a “good ally” in the workplace. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be a universally accepted answer to the question how can men best professionally support women, trans and non binary individuals.

In a world where over half (54%) of women actively feel as though their gender has negatively affected their career progression and 31% of men have experienced a female co-worker being treated unfairly because of their gender, this question is as pertinent today as it was half a century ago.

About a month ago, I noticed a spate of sexism happening in the tech industry and the social response to this varied hugely from person to person. Some people called out the behaviour, intentionally outing and shaming the perpetrators. Others defended the perpetrators as it being old mistakes, stipulating it best to focus on positive change. Others shrugged and said it happens. Some women felt as though we were being spoken on behalf of, others felt supported, some men were outraged, others felt attacked.

The main thing that stuck out to me was that those contributing in the conversation were, for the most part, well meaning, but it was a mess, and the differences in discourse were making it messier.

Roar Training began to research the topic of what it meant to be a good ally for all people, in practical terms. In other words, we tried to define evidence based guidance we can collectively draw upon, when navigating the often complex and nuanced challenge of gender parity in the workplace.

Our findings were both surprising and simple (you can read the full report here) though the key findings were that:

There is a disparity between women who feel as though their gender negatively affects their career and men’s perceptions on inequality. 54% of female respondents believe that their gender has negatively affected their career progression. 65% of male respondents believe that their female co-workers are treated equally in the workplace. In support of this, over half (51%) of female respondents report a general sense of wanting to “be believed” when they discuss or report inequality. This is a pertinent issue that needs to be addressed first and foremost. If men are not believing our stories, then how can we encourage them to become our allies and stand up for us in the face of inequality? We need to support one another in raising our voices and being heard. Create groups and processes where women, collectively, can share their stories, seek support and get advice and help.

Several respondents reported that the “open sharing of salary information” would help gender parity. Whilst most companies continue to keep salary information a black box, it becomes harder to be aware of, and consequently, police, the gender pay gap. Companies need to get increasingly comfortable talking about money, through paying all employees fair and equally in accordance with their experience level and their skillset, and have ways to communicate this effectively, we can take tangible steps to ensuring men and women are paid equally for the same work.

Wanting progression to be primarily “merit based” is cited as important. Most women (and men) were not in favour of quotas or box ticking. We want to be seen and awarded for our merit, we want to be hired because we are as good at the job as our male counterparts and we want to be respected and rewarded for the value that we add. This, however, can only really come to play if we have an “awareness of bias” and openly understand and discuss the inherent differences in perception.

Some female respondents think direct action, for sexist behaviour to be “called out”, is a positive route to gender equality. Others respond preferring to “handle it ourselves”. Based on this, the recommendation for male coworkers is to ask female coworkers how best they can support the individual, based on her preferences and nearly all (92%) of female respondents report wanting an open dialogue, where issues can be addressed together, discussed on a case by case basis.

The first step to achieving true gender parity in the workplace is through open conversation. As women, we can share research and statistics on the inequality, discuss our experiences and ask others to work with us, to allow us to bring all our knowledge and unique perceptions to the table, because it is with fostering a wide range of diverse voices, that businesses will continue to grow and succeed.

Author bio

Kirsty Hulse is the Founder of Manyminds, a marketing agency working with clients such as Virgin Atlantic, Claire’s and IBM and has recently founded Roar Training, confidence, communication and allies workshops that level the professional playing field. For nearly ten years, she has travelled around the world speaking at conferences to audiences of thousands, and is a seasoned stand-up comic who ran a sold out one woman show at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe.

She has trained with ICF accredited Neuroleadership Institute, to apply the fundamentals of neuroscience to enable better conversations, grow self belief and regulate nerves. She believes, passionately, that a recognised, empowered workforce improves collaboration, creativity and internal and external communication. She is a bestselling author of the award nominated "The Future is Freelance" and lives in Devon with her husband and their baby daughter, Amazon Alexa.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

From Start Up support to Scholarship Win: How Entrepreneur Liz is Changing Lives

Entrepreneur Liz Forshaw

Care leaver and entrepreneur Liz Forshaw has recently embarked on the next chapter of her journey in “empowering, encouraging and inspiring children.”  
The 31-year-old, who is studying BSc (Hons) Psychology at Edge Hill University, founded a business in 2010 to help build children’s confidence and resilience in a creative way, drawing on her own experiences as a teenager in care in the north Liverpool area.
Liz, who is from Aintree but lives in Warrington, said: “I only have one goal in life and that is to empower, encourage and inspire. Having this as a child is so important, so it’s become what I’ve dedicated my life to doing.”
Through confidence sessions and workshops at Best Self Club, ran by Liz herself – a qualified business and personal life coach – children are encouraged to explore their own identities, focusing on confidence and resilience through a growth mindset.
Having initially received funded advice and support from local enterprise support charity The Women’s Organisation, Liz’s business turned into a nationwide franchise, raising more than £100,000 for children’s charities along the way. She now intends to grow Best Self Club across schools in the Merseyside area and further afield.
Liz, far right, with some of the children she has helped empower, encourage and inspire
Still celebrating the news of being granted a scholarship, Liz has also recently been guaranteed a place on a volunteering trip to Ghana, Africa in December.
“I’ve always wanted to volunteer in an orphanage or a school so the news of this on top of the scholarship is just wonderful.
“Being able to take what I’ve learned from my time at Edge Hill, and from running my own businesses, across the world to another continent and empower children over there will be amazing.”
Since studying at Edge Hill, Liz has become a volunteer at the National Youth Advocacy Service for looked after children and supports others studying Psychology as a peer mentor.
She left school without any GCSEs and was recently diagnosed with dyslexia but is looking towards a bright future, hoping to graduate with a PhD and become a lecturer, passing on her knowledge to another generation in a dyslexia-friendly way.
Liz also hopes to open a creative school and to publish a collection of workbooks to help people through challenging times.
To find out more about  more about scholarships at Edge Hill visit www.edgehill.ac.uk/scholarships
And if like Liz you've got entrepreneurial ambition and would like to receive advice and support to get started, give The Women's Organisation a call on 0151 706 8111 or drop a line to hello@thewo.org.uk 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Smiles all round for Julie and the Dental Hygiene Studio

After over two decades working as a dental hygienist, Julie Fisher decided it was time to take the plunge and launch her own studio.

Working with our team of advisors through the Enterprise Hub programme, Julie launched The Dental Hygiene Studio earlier this year – Wirral’s very first drop-in dental hygienist studio!

Julie celebrating the launch of
The Dental Hygiene Studio
They do things a little differently at the Dental Hygiene Studio.

A recent change in the law means that you no longer have to see the hygienist at your own dental practice - you can see a hygienist of your choice anytime, anywhere.

This was a business opportunity Julie didn’t want to miss out on. She says: “With today’s busy lifestyles, it can be quite difficult to book and appointment with the dentist, then wait for another appointment with the hygienist, so we wanted to do things a bit differently.”

Enterprise Hub caught up with Julie to find out more. Click here to read the full case study.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Celebrating Enterprising Women 2019

Small businesses are at the heart of our local economy, creating jobs, solving problems and shaping our communities and culture. It isn’t easy to start a business. Those who dare to are risk-takers, innovators and driven by their passion and desire to do something differently. 

Our annual awards were set up to congratulate the very best of women-led businesses across the Liverpool City Region, and the powerhouses operating them.

Our 2019 award-winners!

We know that awards applications can be costly and time-consuming, but here at The Women’s Organisation, we like to do things a little differently. That’s why we decided that our awards would have no shortlists and no gracious loser faces. Simply, our awards are an opportunity to celebrate twelve stand-out businesses and the ambitious and determined women who lead them.

Joined by nearly 100 of our clients and friends, this year we took Celebrating Enterprising Women to Oh My Oh My for an afternoon of highlighting the stories and successes of local women who are impacting our local economy.

Welcome from our CEO, Maggie O'Carroll

This whole event was made possible by our headline sponsors, Lewis Evans Accountants, who through the leadership of another inspiring woman, Rosie Evans, are showing what’s possible when you have entrepreneurial spirit. Their unwavering support to women-led businesses across the Liverpool City Region and beyond does not go unnoticed. Find out more about their services here.

Another thank you goes to our incredibly talented host of the afternoon and long-time friend of the organisation, Eithne Browne. Eithne truly is the star of any show!

Lewis Evans Accountants team

And now onto our 2019 award-winners:

Training and Development Business of the Year, in partnership with The Isla Gladstone
Winner: The Make-Up Academy – Jane Clappison

Social Impact Award, in partnership with Arriva
Winner: Macy’s Café – Amanda McDonald

Best New Business 2019, in partnership with MSIF
Winner: Ava & Harrison – Joanne McCormick & Sara Burgess

Women in Business Champion, in partnership with The Women’s Organisation
Winner: Natalie Hughes

Retail Business of the Year, in partnership with Home Carers Limited
Winners: Mohokini – Serene Papafio

Construction Trades Business of the Year, in partnership with Whitesides
Winner: Gecko Interiors – Caz Jackson & Amy Burgess

Young Entrepreneur of the Year, in partnership with NatWest Business
Winner: Connect Studios – Kelly Phillips

Professional Services Business of the Year, in partnership with Aabyss 
Winner: Xact Payroll Solutions – Jennie Size & Tricia O’Rourke

Campaign of the Year, in partnership with LCR Activate
Winner: InnovateHer – Chelsea Slater & Jo Morfee

Health & Well Being Business of the Year, in partnership with Kays Medical
Winner: Ell&Dee – Claire Morton

PR & Marketing Business of the Year, in partnership with Lewis Evans Accountants
Winner: Pink Media – Nicola Pink

Empowering Others Award, in partnership with Privilege HR
Winner: Ametrine Enterprise Solutions – Irene Afful 

Inspirational Woman of the Year, in partnership with Lewis Evans Accountants
Winner: Poppy Belle Florals – Carmel Donohue

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Back Her Business: Supporting female entrepreneurs starting new businesses through crowdfunding

We’re excited to welcome Crowdfunder for this ‘Back Her Business’ event here at The Women's Organisation, to show you how together with NatWest, they can help you raise money for your new business through crowdfunding.

What's more, if you're a new female-led business which has not yet crossed an annual turnover of £1,000, then you could be eligible for a special grant funding opportunity from NatWest to receive up to £5,000 for your business!*

**Please see below to find out if you're eligible for this session**

Join us to hear from Samantha Mauger, Head of Coaching at Crowdfunder, to:

  • Understand the crowdfunding process and how it can help you raise the funds to start your business
  • Find out how you can access donations or rewards-based funding through Crowdfunder’s platform
  • Hear about exciting grant funding opportunities from NatWest, up to £5,000*
  • Discover the wrap-around business support available through Back Her Business

What is Back Her Business?

Crowdfunder have joined forces with NatWest to help more women get started in business.

Together they can help you raise money for your business through crowdfunding, and will also provide free wrap-around support, including coaching, mentoring and opportunities to meet like-minded women.

What’s more, NatWest may also choose to offer successful projects up to 50% of their fundraising target (max. £5,000) in grant funding!*

How does the process work?

  • Those wishing to apply should set up a crowdfunding project (with a minimum target of £1,000) and complete a short application.
  • If your application is approved, Natwest may then choose to give your project match funding of up to 50% towards your crowdfunding target, up to a maximum of £5,000.
  • To receive a pledge from Natwest, your project must have raised at least 25% of your initial target from the Crowd, from at least 10 unique backers.
  • This will take the Project to up to 75% funded, and the Project Owner can then use the message that they have received NatWest support to drive further support.
  • Projects must go on to achieve 100% of their initial funding target to receive the NatWest funds


A project has a target of £2000, with a campaign length of 28 days…

  1. The project raises £500 from 10 backers in 16 days ­
  2. NatWest pledge of £1,000 applied (assuming the full 50% match funding is granted) ­
  3. The Project raises a further £750 from 14 backers in remaining 12 days
  4. The project closes successfully after 28 days having raised a total of £2,250 from 25 backers.

Who is eligible?

  • Women-led businesses based in the UK
  • Must be a new trading activity i.e. not growing an existing business venture
  • If the business is already up and running, it must not have crossed an annual turnover of £1,000 at the point of application
  • Must be able to satisfy Crowdfunder’s due diligence checks
  • Please note - this session is aimed at those based in the Liverpool City Region. If you're outside of this area, then please click here to see what support Back Her Business has in your area. 

 *Please note: There is no guarantee that a project will receive NatWest grant funding, the decision to fund is at the discretion of the programme management.

If you'd like to find out more, or book directly with us, then please contact our team on 0151 706 8111, or via e-mail on hello@thewo.org.uk.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Think you're ready to GROW your business? 📈

So, you think you're ready to GROW your business. But how do you really know? 

Growth can mean different things to different businesses. For some, it can simply mean that they want to increase their sales turnover, profits, or their share in the market. For others, it might look like taking on more staff or even expanding into offering new products or services. Another example of a growing business is one that's ready to increase its physical presence with more premises or shop outlets, while those selling online might look at increasing their virtual presence.

As you can see, growth can take many forms.  

But how do you know you are ready to grow YOUR business? Head over to the Enterprise Hub blog for expert tips and advice on taking those next steps...

Here's our client Cheryl Grogan, founder of AJ's Playdays, on how we helped her to scale-up her business...

Monday, September 30, 2019

Kiddy Cook on Evolving and Expanding a Franchise

McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Marriott International are some of the worlds biggest companies that have moved to a franchise model in order to successfully grow. We spoke to Nikki Geddes – Founder of local franchise Kiddy Cook about her business journey and the learning curves she’s overcome. 

Nikki Geddes

Launching in 2005 with the dream of inspiring children to have fun with food, Kiddy Cook works by delivering award winning school workshops, after school clubs, classes and parties to encourage healthy choices and to give young people the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a challenging world. Nikki Geddes started the business before deciding to franchise, she told us “I really enjoyed baking with my daughter and as a new mum frequenting every toddle group going, I recognised a gap in the market when it came to teach small children about food and cooking. The more I thought about Kiddy Cook, I got excited about the positive impact it could have”

Nikki spent a large part of her career working in corporate roles. She started her working life as a freelance journalist for BBC Radio Leicester, moving on to a role at British retailer Freemans and most recently she spent 12 years working for a high-profile marketing agency in London. Relocating to the North West with her family, she started to think about the possibility of starting a business that would involve making a difference to kids lives, as well that of their parents.

“I’ve always had a franchise model in mind because I knew there were other entrepreneurs out there who felt as I did about kids and learning”

Franchising allowed Nikki to expand her business without big financial costs. With money tight and a family at home, it was important for her to keep costs to a minimum... something which at the start of her journey was a struggle. “I tried to do everything myself without having a real understanding of how to franchise my business. I wasted a lot of money. Furthermore, my business was not as robust as it could have been. I recruited the wrong people for my business, I didn’t take the time to see if they were right for me and the Kiddy Cook brand and some of these franchisees proved unqualified to run a Kiddy Cook franchise resulting in some real lows and a business that remained static for a long time”

If Nikki could offer a piece of advice for anyone looking to start a franchise - Invest your time and money into talking to a franchise consultant right from the start!

Kiddy Cook is now evolving and expanding with 7 areas covered across England and Wales. They continue to collaborate with partners who share the same commitment to causes which encourage health, wellbeing and education and are now in conversation with one of the biggest school sports providers discussing the possibility of partnership to deliver the Kiddy Cook Food Foundation Programme to more schools across the UK.

The business worked with The Women’s Organisation through Greater Manchester based Excelerate Labs Programme. Receiving coaching and support from Senior Business Advisor Mike Marsden, Nikki told us: “The Women’s Organisation have been absolutely fantastic, and my mentor Mike Marsden continues to be a real asset to the growth of Kiddy Cook. From the free courses I’ve attended (How to get your Business seen on Google was my favourite) to the continued support and networking opportunities, they have been a real motivator for me moving forward.”

“It’s still early days for me, but I have no doubt that the work I am doing with The Women’s Organisation will be a contributing factor to my business growth and profit. I have spent the last couple of months evaluating my business model and processes and I have been able to add real value to the existing franchise network.”

Kiddy Cook are currently looking for an entrepreneur to deliver their programme of workshops in the Liverpool and North Wales areas. Kiddy Cook presents a fantastic opportunity and one that can be a great way to build a business using an existing company as a foundation.

If you’d like to find our more get in touch 

Tel: 07976 619 648 e: hale@kiddycook.co.uk www.kiddycook.co.uk

If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact: exceleratelabs@thewo.org.uk.