Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thousands of entrepreneurs across the Liverpool City Region are set to benefit as Enterprise Hub launches a second phase

Liverpool City Region’s “one front door” access point for business support is extended and expanded in a significant step forward for driving entrepreneurship across the region.

Today  (26 November) saw the official launch of the second phase of the Enterprise Hub programme, marking the continuation of support available to those who are thinking about starting or growing a business.

Maggie O'Carroll, CEO of The Women's Organisation (left) with
Julia Sweeney, Director of European Programmes and Local Growth and MHCLG (centre)
and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram (right) 

The launch event took place here at The Women’s Organisation, which is the lead and accountable body for the Enterprise Hub.

The launch was attended by special guest speaker Julia Sweeney, Director of European Programmes and Local Growth at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), along with the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Anna Rothery, and Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Mr Steve Rotheram.

Over 100 people joined Enterprise Hub to mark the occasion
Since launching its first phase in December 2015, Enterprise Hub support has helped to create over 1,060 new businesses so far. In a change to the first programme, this second phase of support now includes the provision of business growth support for those in their first three years of trade.

This move comes in response to the successful first phase of the programme which showed that there was real entrepreneurial spirit across the region, resulting in the creation of over 1,000 new enterprises. This second phase is now able to ensure the sustainability of those businesses through an ongoing programme of support.

During the launch event reflections were made on the importance of investing in entrepreneurship and developing core entrepreneurial skills to grow our local economy.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram speaking at the event

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 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Supporting MM Business Services through Excelerate Labs

Double M Business Services Ltd provides Business saving advice from business energy experts offering brokerage support to help all sizes of businesses save money and maximise energy efficiencies.

Many SMEs have all intention of saving energy and reducing energy costs, but the truth is that they simply don’t have the time, expertise, resources or relationships to pursue strategic energy portfolio management. This is why it’s beneficial for businesses to use the services of an energy broker such as Double M Business Services Ltd. Through tailored advice, it’s the  Company's  mission to match each of their customers with the best possible contract for their needs. They do the legwork, with the customer  doing the saving.

  • Help your business save time and money
  • No additional fees for using the service
  • Fast and easy quoting service, with a whole-of-market price comparison
  • Help secure better rates with your current supplier
  • Sells in an ethical and compliant way

As Third party Broker, Double M have long-standing relationships with reputable suppliers. As Brokers they  are able to negotiate, procure, and compare energy quotes on your behalf and ensure contract terms best-suited to your needs. With their  industry knowledge and expertise, brokers can secure the most affordable energy contracts. They can also advise on other energy-related services such as smart metering and invoice validation.

Double M  brokering  can assist you in setting up a strategy to monitor and manage your gas and electricity. They  will implement best practices for on-going benefits and energy savings, helping you rollout energy-efficient measures sensibly and strategically.

Along with reducing energy tariffs, businesses can also look to reducing actual energy consumption within the business environment

We discussed Double M Business Services business growth pains mainly . They did not have a Business growth Action Plan. We, therefore, set about to put together a plan for improving the business process in the supply chain and increasing clients on the books as well as developing key relationships with key partners. We worked with Sue Chatton in strategic planning all aspects of the growth areas of the service thoroughly, which was put down into a 3-year action plan and SWOT analysis of the business.

  • To scale up the offer, there is need to for Double M to
  • Increase the staffing resource.
  • Utilise an improved CRM system to be able to cross-sell and upsell services.
  • Work in partnership with a variety of stakeholders
  • Secure retainers and preferred provider status to build unrestricted funds
  • In implementing major strategies to grow the business, they will see sales revenues of over quarter a million by year 3. 
  • Any business looking to take up on savings advice can quote DP1 for a discounted rate.
If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact: exceleratelabs@thewo.org.uk.