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IoD champion gender diversity at the Enterprising Women Summit

23 Jun 2017

Enterprising Women Summit header

Last week, the IoD’s Enterprising Women Summit brought together some of the most inspirational female leaders for a day of interactive panel debates and breakout sessions at the Grange St. Pauls Hotel in London.

In its eighth year, this annual event celebrating female leadership has been firmly established as a key event in the business calendar. Drawing over 200 business leaders from across the country, the event provides a unique opportunity for attendees to meet and hear from those working across a diverse range of sectors.

Women seated at the Enterprising Women Summit

The day was hosted by journalist and broadcaster, Juliet Morris, and kicked off with a strong message from IoD Chairman, Lady Barbara Judge, who said:

“In the post-Brexit era, business is going to be more important than ever before in the UK, and who better to lead British business than women?

“It’s such a good moment for us now, we are at the top of everyone’s agenda and certainly here at the IoD it’s top of our agenda to open the doors wider for women.

“This is a crucial opportunity to talk about how we can work together to help Britain and to help ourselves be at the front of the queue.”

You and your team panel

Its a mans world or is it panel

The Summit included panels and breakout sessions, allowing attendees to interact with speakers and leave with valuable takeaways for their business. In one of the panel discussions, ‘It’s a man’s world – or is it?’ Gabriella Somerville of ConnectJets focussed on confidence, saying:

“Self-belief has to be nurtured in all of us, it’s not an overnight thing. Even when you start up your own company, you go in a little bit intimidated – self-belief, self-confidence has to be progressive.”

Gabriella Somerville with Juliet Morris

Chef and restaurateur, Marianne Lumb responded by discussing whether female leaders should be as direct as their male counterparts when it comes to leadership:

“In the early days of my restaurant, when I was nervous, exhausted, probably feeling out of control, I did shout. But I quickly learned it was totally the wrong thing to do.

“At the end of the day the team was working incredibly hard to build this restaurant with me… you need to lead from the front, you need to be empower, you need to be sympathetic.”

Sophie Cornish speaking at Enterpsiring Women Summit

Headline speaker Sophie Cornish, founder of online retail enterprise notonthehighstreet.com continued the inspirational talks by explaining what she would do for women in the workplace if she was prime minister:

“Flexibility and the ability to define your own working life and agenda is absolutely critical,” she said. “The business of women, of small creative businesses, is worth £3.6billion and government must take is seriously.

“Childcare has to be tax-deductible, entirely tax-deductible – not vouchers… that drives be bonkers and always has done… we’re all looking after elderly relatives as well, we’re the sandwich generation.”

“And the other piece is an agenda of supporting these kind of businesses countrywide – tax breaks, easier access to finance, places where you can go and get advice and support and meet each other, to share ideas. It’s the blend of making it really, really possible to start and grow a business.”

Women drinking wine at Enterprising Women Summit

Women networking at the Enterprising Women Summit

Other speakers included Penny Mallory, presenter, ex-rally driver, Victoria Perry, Community Affairs for Jaguar Land Rover and Cat Gazzoli, founder of Piccolo Organic Baby Foods.


Keep an eye out for more Enterprising Women events across the country

As part of our ongoing efforts to celebrate, nurture and inspire women across the business landscape, we're running a host of events throughout the UK. To view the events in your area and read helpful advice and resources, see our Enterprising Women hub.

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