Friday, December 20, 2019

Guest Blog: Women in Business: Steps to a More Equal Workplace

Several industries in business continue to be male-dominated. For instance, statistics show that only around 12% of engineers in the UK are women. Engineering is a growing industry that offers a rewarding career path. By not considering engineering roles, girls are missing out on some of the most exciting career opportunities available. Fortunately, there have been several successful campaigns in recent years to encourage women to consider careers in less traditional fields such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths). With this in mind, here are some of the key ways that women are breaking stereotypes within traditional male lead industries.


As mentioned, there have been many recent campaigns designed to encourage women to pursue less traditional career paths. Wise Campaign is a nationwide campaign which seeks to ensure gender balance within STEM. The campaign stresses that gender diversity offers many benefits to both employees and employers. It means that employees have access to a wider selection of rewarding jobs and can gain in-demand skills to enhance their career prospects. For employers, gender diversity can offer better customer service, improve productivity, and increased profits. Fortunately, there has been a huge increase in women entering STEM industries in recent years. According to Wise, there are now 50,000 women in engineering professional roles, which is almost double the number 10 years ago. Other popular campaigns include the International Women in Engineering Day which takes place annually in June. This event was designed to promote and celebrate the incredible achievements of female engineers across the globe. Every year, many exciting events take place across the UK to connect and support female engineers.

Inspiring female leaders

Celebrating the inspiring work of females within male-dominated industries is an excellent way to encourage more women to pursue careers in these fields. Ada Lovelace Day is an annual event that takes place every October to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM industries. The event aims to increase the profile of women in STEM, thus creating role models for young girls considering a career in STEM and supporting women currently working in related industries. Made with Code is another excellent resource that features inspiring female leaders in STEM. The site features a variety of short interviews with women who work in tech and explores how these women are using their coding skills to change the world. In the interviews, the women explain how they got into tech and the benefits of working in the industry. This helps encourage other women to consider a role in the exciting field of coding.

Accessible education

Technological advancements have made education far more accessible and convenient. For instance, there is now an extensive range of online courses that can teach women the skills needed to secure a role in STEM. Many qualifications are fully-flexible and can be completed at home during your spare time. This makes it easy for women to retrain and change careers in later life, even when their have work or family commitments. There is also a number of specialist recruitment agencies that can help women break into male-dominated industries. For example, engineering recruitment consultants can use their expert knowledge and connections to help women secure their dream job in the exciting field of engineering.

School visits

One of the key reasons why less women are studying STEM subjects at university, is because they did not take the right GCSE or A-Level subjects to be accepted on the courses. For that reason, girls must be educated on the benefits of STEM careers from a young age. This will allow girls to make an informed decision about which subjects they want to study in school to support their future career goals. Many universities are now going into secondary schools to speak with girls about STEM courses and the career prospects they offer. This is helping to attract more girls into taking STEM courses in higher education.

Final thoughts

There have been massive improvements in the number of women entering male-dominated industries in recent years. However, women continue to be underrepresented in several fields including STEM. The government needs to continue supporting campaigns designed to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM and support women already in the industry. These diverse fields can offer many interesting and rewarding career paths, so women should not be discouraged from pursuing a job in a workplace that is traditionally dominated by men. 

 Thanks to our guest blogger Chloe Walker. Chloe is a freelance writer who’s main focus is on working life and the business world. When she isn’t writing Chloe can be found curled up in front of the fire with the newspaper.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Helping Aleksandra get to grips with the beauty of business

Alexsandra Calka’s business journey is testament to the importance of hard-work, determination and staying focused on your goals, when it comes to succeeding in those all-important early years of starting a business.

Alexsandra Kasprzyk, Owner of CoCo Beauty Clinic

It was always a dream of Alexsandra’s to open her own salon, having previously worked as a beauty and massage therapist, but the timing was never quite right. It was only upon moving to their new home in Southport and falling in love with the hustle and bustle of the local area that she started to see the potential, launching CoCo Beauty Clinic last year.

Alexsandra approached Enterprise Hub at The Women’s Organisation to find out what support was available to help grow her new business. She was soon paired with business advisor Yan Miao for 1-2-1 advice and support, alongside access to a range of courses to equip her with the marketing and business skills needed to grow the business.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Restaurant business owner “proud” to share ceremony with female graduates

Restaurant business owner Nisha Katona said she was “so proud” to receive an honorary doctorate alongside a predominantly female cohort of graduates at Edge Hill University.

Nisha Katona MBE
As founder, CEO and executive chef of Mowgli Street Food, Nisha was conferred with the title Honorary Doctor of Business Administration at one of three graduation ceremonies held on Saturday, 7th December.

A keen ambassador for women in business, she commended the University, which was the first non-denominational teacher training college for women, for continuing to appeal to young women in areas like nursing, teaching and business.

“I was so proud to be here today,” she said. “I found it really moving to be sharing this moment with so many young women, particularly the nurses, because they’re doing the most incredible, compassionate job. They have an expertise in compassion, that’s the best thing you could have in life.”

Nisha referred to her own experiences in the male-dominated food industry and urged women not to be discouraged.

“It’s a surprise, a real sadness to me, that there are still only a handful of women at the CEO and owner level in the restaurant industry,” she said.

“In the Fast Track 100 I think there’s still only 20 women and in the FTSE 100 it’s similar; that’s why I think it’s really important that I tell my story, so women like me, and particularly women who think the next horizon is the menopause, know they can do it.”

Edge Hill University Vice-Chancellor John Cater presents Nisha Katona with her honorary doctorate

Best known as a successful restauranteur, food writer and broadcaster and friend of The Women's Organisation, Nisha, was previously a barrister for 20 years.

But her entrepreneurial spirit would not let her sleep and she took the plunge into the business world, of which she had no prior experience.

“Entrepreneurism is like a disease, it becomes a monster, it will not let you sleep until you bring it alive. The minute it enters your head that ‘this isn’t represented on the high street’ and ‘maybe there’s a market’, the minute that enters your head it becomes a living creature.

“I didn’t want to give up the Bar but I had to because this thing was alive.”

Nisha opened her first Mowgli Street Food restaurant in 2014, serving contemporary Indian cuisine, and she now has 10 restaurants across the country, with her eleventh due to open in Bristol before the end of the year.

In 2018 Mowgli was listed in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 Businesses, and this year Nisha was appointed by the Cabinet Office as Ambassador for Diversity in Public Appointments and recognised with an MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours list for services to the food industry.

Nisha inherited her love of food from her family and cites the poverty of her Indian ancestors as a driver for her passion.

“Where food is precious and scarce it is really well-loved. I come from a background in India that’s quite poor; my mother describes how they used to have one chapati between 6 kids.

“So, I was taught you don’t waste food; every single meal is a precious, amazing thing, it’s a real family event.”

That ethos is reflected in the buzz and warmth of every Mowgli restaurant.

Nisha Katona MBE with Edge Hill University's Iona Horsburgh, Deputy Director of Student Services who nominated Nisha for the award, and Rachel Boyle, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education. 

Another central pillar of the business is Nisha’s dedication to charitable giving through The Mowgli Trust.

“The most important thing about The Mowgli Trust is it’s there to make my staff more outward-facing so their lives are enriched, and the way we do that is by getting them engaged with the Trust.”

The initiative has, with the help of customers, raised thousands of pounds for charities including The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity, Claire House and Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

Described as an outstanding role model, Nisha’s honorary doctorate was given by Edge Hill University in recognition of the values she embodies, which the University endeavours to represent.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Business Growth Tips: How the Right Team Can Make/Break Growth Strategy

Once your business is off to a good start, you have a steady flow of clients and you start to consider growth, it is vital that you have the right team on board to support that journey, but how do you check that your team suit the needs of the business?

Here are some key considerations for ensuring you have a team that will make not break your growth strategy:

Capacity Planning
First and foremost it is important to look carefully at what growth will mean for your capacity.  Based on the new customers, workload and revenue streams you are projecting, how much capacity are you going to need in terms of time and which areas will feel the most impact?  If your team are already stretched (and it's important to check to see where there is scope to add extra tasks, and who is already feeling the pinch) then you may need to recruit.

Are the Right Players in the Right Roles
All too often firms recruit, train and keep staff in roles failing to review if with the changing landscape of the business the staffing or skill set needs have shifted.  While you may have given someone the same job description and job title for the last 5 years, if the needs of the business have changed, you may need to look again if that job title and description are in fact what the business needs.  If making changes always ensure you are complying with employment law regulation, but don't just leave things as they are just because they always have been.

Get Your Team on Board
The growth of a business can be exciting, but it will also bring with it a time of hard graft and change.  This can really throw a team off if you don't play it right.  Communicate with your team what your ambitions are, and the opportunity the growth of the business presents for them.  Be clear that to achieve this common goal it will take some hard work and adaptability, but make clear the why.  Why should they care? Why is it good for them as well as you? What will be the benefits.  Ensure that you have plans in place for managing change (who will be responsible for training new team members, how will workload be divvied up, how will we ensure all staff are clear about their role and responsibility) so that you are ready to support your team through the transition. 

Remember Customer Experience
One of the risks in growing is keeping the same quality of service as when you are small.  Putting training, processes and systems in place to replicate the care you give to customers is key.  You can't assume your team that you are building around you will just know how to replicate you and the value you bring, so make a way for it to be explicitly understood and reward those who keep to that model. 

If you are a woman running a business in the Greater Manchester area that is working through these dilemmas and other business growth pains, our Excelerate Labs team may be able to help.

Part funded by European Regional Devleopment Fund Excelerate Labs can link you with a local adviser to explore growth strategy and help you to get all your ducks in a row.

Contact for more information.

Monday, December 2, 2019

CASE STUDY: Macy’s Café is serving up big social impact for the Halton community

For many years, Amanda McDonald had a dream of running her own café. This dream became a reality when she opened the doors to Macy’s Café back in January, with support from the Enterprise Hub programme.

Based in The Grange Community Centre in Runcorn, Amanda has created an authentic space at the heart of her local community. Along with serving fresh, quality cooked food at affordable prices, Macy’s café has a strong social objective and provides free hot meals, drinks and essential supplies to those in need.

Amanda McDonald is the face behind Macy's Cafe

The impact which Amanda and the team have been having on the local community hasn’t gone unnoticed and they were recently announced as winners of the Social Impact Award at The Women’s Organisation’s Enterprising Women Awards.

Click here to read the full case study.

Double award success for our growth clients ADHD Foundation 👏

Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive of Liverpool-based ADHD Foundation - the largest user-led ADHD agency in Europe - is celebrating two award wins. Dr Lloyd is listed in the prestigious OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models List 2019 for the third consecutive year and also takes home a Northern Leadership Award.

Dr Lloyd has been named by diversity champion, INvolve in their OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models List 2019, supported by Yahoo Finance. The lists celebrate the work being done by LGBT+ and ally leaders across the globe in both the private and public sectors, promoting LGBT+ diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is the third consecutive year Dr Lloyd has featured on the list.

As CEO of the ADHD Foundation, an NHS provider and consultancy for government and national agencies, Dr Lloyd has embedded inclusion across all aspects of the Foundation. He actively champions local and national charities and community groups through the Foundation and its staff, including the LGBT+ charity, the Michael Causer Foundation, Liverpool City Region Pride, anti-racism charity the Anthony Walker Foundation and Sahir House HIV and Aids charity. Dr Lloyd states that ‘Diversity is Inclusion’ and is also a champion of ‘neurodiversity’- advocating for the one in five people who have dyslexia, ADHD, autism and dyspraxia. He also supports a number of LGBT+ organisations and networks outside of his role and acts as a mentor to young LGBT+ people, supporting them through school and careers.

Dr Lloyd also won the Public & Third Sector Leader 2019 award at the Northern Leadership Awards, which celebrates the people and organisations across the north who are role models for their teams and raise the bar for their competitors. Held at the prestigious Queens Hotel in Leeds, the awards showcase the best qualities of modern leadership - of inspiration, collaboration and empowerment.

Speaking about his OUTstanding LGBT+ Role Models List 2019 accolade, Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive, ADHD Foundation, said:

“I am truly honoured to be recognised alongside so many amazingly talented and dedicated people, whom I hold in such high esteem. Awards are significant as they give inspiration to others, and for others to see an LGBT+ person being celebrated shows that it is ok to be out at work. It is so important to promote diversity and inclusion in workplaces to ensure everyone can live up to their full potential.”

Commenting on his Northern Leadership Award, Dr Lloyd added:

“My work comes from the heart and I passionately strive to ensure that the neurodiversity conversation is promoted on a local and national level and that the gifts, intelligence, talents and employability of neurodiverse people are understood and celebrated. It is particularly encouraging to see neurodiversity being discussed, supported and welcomed in the business community and that so many more leaders are wearing their neurodiversity with pride.”

Founder and CEO of INvolve, Suki Sandhu OBE, said:

“We’re delighted to be celebrating another fantastic group of people from across the globe who are collectively driving cultural change and creating workplaces where everyone can succeed. LGBT+ discrimination is still prevalent in a lot of the world’s biggest economies, but highlighting the work of successful role models changes people’s perceptions. They demonstrate that you can be successful and out at work, but most importantly inspire the next generation of LGBT+ leaders.”

The accolades come after a record year for ADHD Foundation, who just last month, welcomed experts from across the globe to its Annual Conference at ACC Liverpool, the largest multidisciplinary conference of its kind in the UK with over 700 delegates, and for the first time staged the first SEN (Special Education Needs) conference exclusively for 600 parents and carers.
ADHD Foundation is a charity that over the last 12 years has grown to become one of the global leaders in the neurodiversity movement that is campaigning to change our outdated views on intelligence, ability and employability so they are relevant to our 21st century economy, communities and schools.

The charity’s iconic national campaign, the Umbrella Project, attracted the patronship of Patricia Ward Kelly, wife of the late Gene Kelly earlier this year after Patricia became enamoured with the dazzling array of colourful umbrellas at Heathrow Airport T5.

The Umbrella Project is part of an initiative to raise awareness and celebrate ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia - which all sit under the "umbrella" term of neurodiversity. The project aims to flip the disabling perception of neurodiverse individuals on its head and, instead, celebrate cognitive differences.

The project launched on Church Alley in Liverpool in 2017, where it has returned every year since; it debuted at BBC North, MediaCityUK, Salford Quays in 2018 and returned again this year; and launched at Heathrow this summer, marking the first time the artwork has been available to view in London or at an airport.

For further information about ADHD Foundation visit You can also follow on Twitter @ADHDFoundation, Facebook @adhdfoundation and Instagram @adhdfoundation.