How do you find businesses or organisations that invest in, empower, and support women? To celebrate International Women's Day 2021 (IWD) and its theme #ChoosetoChallenge, we've done some digging for you. Here are five resourceful organisations and five supportive businesses that help women to prosper.
Organisations supporting women
1. The SEED Network
Helping women to support each other is the aim of SEED founder and activist Lynne Franks OBE, an influencer of change in the business world. SEED stands for Sustainable Enterprise and Empowerment Dynamics and champions women's empowerment. The SEED Hub Club is a community where women can access free wellbeing and life-skills workshops and exclusive chats with Lynne on building a positive life and income. Joining also gives you opportunities to promote your business, earn discounts on learning programmes, ask questions of 'extraordinary women leaders and visionaries', and become a coach and ambassador.
Time to Think practitioner Laura Murphy is the founder and chair of female-run WayfinderWoman in East Sussex. It's a registered charity that builds the confidence and skills of women of working age who want to progress through the workplace or in business. You can get help and support from free workshops, training, coaching, online support and drop-in information from its hub in Eastbourne.
Small business enterprise expert Michelle Ovens MBE launched the f:Entrepreneur Campaign in IWD 2017 to recognise the power-women running UK businesses. As well as events like roundtables and Q&A sessions, f:Entrepreneur also showcases trailblazing female entrepreneurs through its #ialso campaign.We have seen so many women embracing change, generating and exploring new ideas, rallying around their communities and supporting their peers. This resilience is hugely valuable and will set them up for success as they will be at the very heart of the UK's recovery, said Michelle.
4. we are radikl
Women who want to start or grow a business are offered free business support at we are radikl, a UK-wide online community. If you want to scale up your business, it also offers an intensive 12-month accelerator programme to women who want to grow their businesses fast.They have opened avenues I never knew existed or even thought I could access, said Katy Raywood of Howson Design.
5. Women In Business
As an online platform, Women In Business promotes women's achievements in all sectors and publishes up-to-date news on women's working issues. Its services include advice and guidance, business start-up coaching, advertising, promotional and networking opportunities and free mentoring for eligible businesses.
Employers supporting women
Looking to get into tech? With women holding just 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector, take inspiration from US cloud-based CRM company Salesforce which has appointed Zahra Bahrololoumi as CEO for the UK & Ireland from March 2021. Breaking into the male-dominated world of technology is no mean feat but we shouldn't be surprised at Salesforce's decision. Not only is Zahra eminently suited to the job, but Salesforce also embraces equality as one of its core values. While acknowledging that it still has a way to go, in 2020 its equality data showed some progress, with 33.6% of its global workforce women. That's nearly 11,000 more women working for Salesforce than five years ago.
Some sectors are tougher than others for women to break into, like insurance and finance. So, we applaud UK insurer Ageas for increasing the proportion of women in senior management roles to 35%. It has also pledged to get the figure up to 40% this year as part of its commitment to Women in Insurance and Women in Finance. If you want to further your career in insurance, this blog from Women in Insurance has some great tips.
3. Standard Chartered Bank
And talking of finance, we love Futuremakers by Standard Chartered. It's a global community programme that supports disadvantaged young people, but especially girls, with a range of initiatives focused on education, employability and entrepreneurship. Of course, we're naturally drawn to the Entrepreneurs for Growth programme, which is a great fit with IWD's #ChoosetoChallenge theme. The programme nurtures micro and small businesses and provides support to female entrepreneurs in the tech sector.
Multinational biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, famous for its co-invention of a Covid-19 vaccine with the University of Oxford, has been a consistent entry in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women list since 2006. Although it still has more men than women in senior roles in the UK, things are changing. AstraZeneca's Gender Pay Report 2019 revealed that 45% of its senior leaders were women compared with 40% in 2012. Its 2020 report is due out later this month.
Another deserving member of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women list is consumer goods giant Unilever UK, feted for its 'lead from the top' strategy on diversity and inclusion. It continues to take strides to make its global business more gender-balanced. In 2010, women made up 38% of management roles. By 2020, it had reached the milestone 50/50 gender split but still acknowledges there's more work to do.