Friday, October 24, 2014

Egg Freezing is Not the Way to Break the Glass Ceiling

“This is not the path to positive progress” said Maggie O’Carroll CEO of The Women’s Organisation in response to reports that Facebook and Apple are offering to support female employees to freeze their eggs in order to attract more women.

It has been suggested that the perks offered by Apple and Facebook could be seen as an attempt to rectify the gender imbalance. Apple said in its diversity report this year that its workforce was 70% male, while Facebook reported its workforce was 69% male.

It is often suggested that the gender pay gap and ‘glass ceiling’ women encounter when trying to progress their careers can be attributed to the idea that women are more likely to take time out to start a family.  In response Facebook now apparently offers up to $20,000 (£13,000) for egg freezing for female employees.

Maggie O’Carroll challenged this idea saying “Instead of this bizarre proposal it would surely be better for the likes of Facebook and Apple to provide proper family leave, flexible working patterns rather than this offer, which is frankly rather offensive! Supporting families is the key to fairness in the workplace, not messing with women’s biological clocks.”

The Women’s Organisation themselves have supported staff to manage their working patterns offering flexible working to those trying to juggle a number of commitments.  Their tailored programmes for women to start out in business are also focussed on the key challenges that effect women trying to pursue business while managing family responsibilities.

Gender bias is rife in the workplace with women in the Northwest of England recently being reported to be earning as much as 17.6% less than their male counterparts, and women still vastly underrepresented in business. 

The Women’s Organisation would challenge business owners world over to think more carefully about their policies relating to growing families and ensure that real solutions are on offer. 

Speaking to Sky News at the weekend Maggie explained that she is not against women making the choice to freeze eggs, simply companies using this as a way to shy away from supporting flexible working practices for families. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Social Media Wiz Ann is Hoping her Business Success Will Make her the 'Talk of Manchester'

 Manchester’s Ann Davies, founder of social media training and consultancy business Bizwizuk, is feeling “Very humble, proud and excited!” upon discovering she has been shortlisted for an award.

Having built a successful business for someone else for 10 years Ann Davies decided it was time to do something for herself and launched ‘Bizwizuk’ in October 2011.  Starting from scratch was a challenge Ann was ready to face head on and has since built up a client base of over 100 businesses  ranging from SME’s to banks and hotel chains, linking with an additional social media manager allowing her to focus on the consultancy side of the business.

Feeling ready to expand Bizwizuk this year Ann approached The Women’s Organisation upon hearing that they could offer free support to women in Greater Manchester with ambition for business growth.

Ann said “I have found the support incredible. My mentor has helped me to understand and create a clear vision for the growth of my business.”

Ann who also runs The Working Mothers networking group in Manchester while juggling her life as a working mum of two teenage daughters was excited to learn that her hard work had been recognised being shortlisted for ‘Best Social Media Company’ at the ‘Talk of Manchester’ awards.

Showing why she deserves to win Ann told us her top 3 tips for businesses thinking about using social media are:

1 – Choose your platforms carefully; think about where your business sits in the social media space.

2 – Set the right tone, your on-line voice should reflect the business voice that your clients hear when face to face. 

3 - Keep track of your impact.  Once your social media strategy is up and running you will want to know what impact it is having, which involves measuring what is working and what isn’t - of course changing what isn’t working

If you appreciate Ann’s tips and have enjoyed reading a bit about her journey then she would greatly appreciate your votes for best social media company. 
Voting for Talk of Manchester Awards closes Friday 31st October at 5pm so click here to vote for Ann:

Now celebrating her 3rd business birthday Ann’s advice to other women who are trying to grow their own business is “If you feel passionately about your products or services and genuinely enjoy what you do then don’t let anyone put you off”.

To find out more about the services Ann and BizWizuk offer to support businesses to succeed on social media visit and follow @bizwizuk on twitter.

If like Ann you are a woman who has built a successful business in Greater Manchester which you are now ready to expand, contact The Women’s Organisation to find out how the Venture Accelerator programme can offer you FREE advice to build a strategy for growth.  Email project manager Mike on and follow @TheWomenOrgManc on twitter. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Women's Organisation Named Digital Champions @SENTogether Awards!

"Being short listed for an award is a great privilege. We were thankful for that. We are over the moon and still in shock that we actually went on to win!" said Jo Austin Digital Marketing Coordinator at The Women's Organisation in the wake of their victory at SEN 'Powerful Together' Awards.

The Women's Organisation were among a number of local social enterprises nominated as Digital Champions at the prestigious event held at the Town Hall, and were shortlisted alongside Sandbox Digital. 

The organisation have worked hard to build digital inclusion not only into their support programmes, but throughout their staff development and everything they do.

Through The Women's Organisation's business start-up programme women are invited to take advantage of free training around 'Selling Online - From Ebay to Etsy', shown how to use Excel for 'Basic Book Keeping' and introduced to the idea of using Social Media for business with 'Building a Social Media Strategy'.  Upon launch of their business they are invited to further build their confidence through master classes on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Mailchimp, Hootsuite and Blogging. 

Jo said "Digital literacy is crucial for businesses.  The fear of social media and online trading can be a massive barrier for people.  We have worked hard over the last few years to develop a full training programme to show people that e-marketing, social media and ICT practices don't have to be terrifying and complicated."

Maggie O'Carroll, Helen Millne &
Jo Austin collecting their award
And removing the fear of digital doesn't just translate to the clients of The Women's Organisation. Jo and team have been regularly supporting the staff at the organisation to grow in digital confidence and they now are awarding 'Social Media Star of the Week' for the member of staff who has boldly put some of their new found digital courage into practice. 

"From our front of house admin team right through to senior management, everyone is working to keep developing their skills so we can all be confident ambassadors of digital practices, and in turn offer brilliant support to the women who approach us for help" said Jo.

Over the last few years The Women's Organisation's digital reach has gone international, as they worked alongside partners from Slovenia, Ireland and Norway to develop a range of training modules through 'E-Business Enterprise Learning' (E-BEL) Project. Through E-BEL The Women's Organisation took the lead on developing a number of training resources and webinars that can be used by women entrepreneurs across the world to develop their e-marketing skills and understand key principles of Social Media Marketing.

The Social Enterprise Network's Awards event held on Friday 3rd October and gave recognition to the amazing work carried out by local Social Enterprises with 16 awards being presented on the night.  Host Paul Corcoran of Agent Marketing told the audience they were at the "best party in town" and the rapturous applause showed they were in complete agreement. 

The Women's Organisation would like to thank Social Enterprise Network for this award and their ongoing encouragement. 

To find out more about the work of The Women's Organisation and why they are 'Digital Champions' please visit 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hester Cox’s Business is Cruising Along Nicely with the Addition of a Second Boat to Star Narrowboat Holidays

Many people work from home, but successful business woman Hester Cox decided to take that one step further by turning her home into a business.

Credit: Jessica Lang Photography
A 57ft narrowboat called Gloria was home for Hester but with growing frustration of often being mis-managed and undervalued, and a long term desire to run her own business, she realised to set it up as a holiday hire boat was a reasonably low cost, low risk way to start-up.

‘I have always had an inkling to run my own business, often I would see how businesses were run and I thought why are they doing it like that? I would do it like this. So coupled with the want to be in control of my own work, career, day to day life, as well as realise my own ideas, I got started with my own business.’

Star Narrowboat Holidays offers excellent quality and reasonably priced canal boat hire. Now with 2 lovely boats to choose from, Gloria and Queenie, Hester and her business aim to create a memorable experience to all who stay aboard.

Bridgewater Marina at Sunset
Based at the Bridgewater Marina just outside of Manchester City Centre, near Manchester Airport, it is a perfect location for people across the UK and abroad. The marina offers a rural retreat that often feels like it is a world away from city life.

Since setting her sails in 2012, the business has been hugely successful which has allowed for the purchase of a second boat and further growth. It is now at the point that people are having to be turned away because the dates wanted are already booked and the boats are receiving excellent reviews from guests.

‘I feel proud of my efforts so far, I have the press coming to me asking if they can include my business in their latest article or review which is amazing. I have learnt so much about business, decision making and myself.’

‘I like that it has given me so much more confidence, I love that I am in control of my own life, and I love it when my hirer's cruise into the marina on return from their holiday and I can see in their faces that they have loved their time aboard. That’s when I know I’m doing my business well.’

In the beginning, many people questioned what Hester was trying to do and didn’t believe it would work. However, now with 2 boats, her business is sailing along nicely.

Hester believes part of this success is down to surrounding herself with a network of strong business women, via The Women’s Organisation’s Business Club. This helped to balance the negativity received by the people who doubted she could achieve a successful business.

‘I was nervous to attend my first business club event, but felt quite at ease and cared for afterwards because The Women’s Organisation staff and other business women in the club are relaxed and helpful. I came away buzzing and feeling far less isolated than I did to begin with.’

She continued: ‘Their support is invaluable and has saved me hundreds of pounds. I have received on-going business support from The Women’s Organisation, it has been really useful. They have helped me decide what direction to take and allowed me to identify my strengths and weaknesses to move forward. Ruth gives me business advice sessions in my caravan, the one I bought to use as my office, it really helps to have someone connected to the organisation that has seen behind the scenes of my business. ’

If you would like to know more about what Star Narrowboats has to offer, the website has all the details, including more lovely pictures and specifics of each boat – and if you fancy having a look in person,  Hester is happy to give a personal tour.

And if you would like to gain support to grow your own business, you can speak to The Women's Organisation about the help available via 0151 706 8111 / or visit for more information.