Feminine qualities are now vital for businesses to secure success

Sahar Hashemi, the founder of Coffee Republic
Sahar Hashemi, the founder of Coffee Republic
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A NEW WOMEN’S MOVEMENT is forcing the world of work to adopt feminine qualities, according to Sahar Hashemi, the founder of Coffee Republic.

Ms Hashemi delivered a tub-thumping address at the national finals of the Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards, which celebrated female entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and bringing investment to the UK.

Ms Hashemi said that women’s innate qualities had now become “strategic imperatives” for business. She told the 400-strong audience at The Queens Hotel in Leeds that qualities such as the ability to multi-task were now prized.

She added: “Empathy is a key word in business. The other word is authenticity; that goes with our softness... When something goes wrong we want to share. Men go to their cave.”

Ms Hashemi said this softness led to networking, which had also become important for any business. She added: “The fact that we’re the world’s biggest consumers gives us intuition. It really is important for us (women) to align who we are, with what we do.”

The big winner at the awards was Alexa Greaves, from AAG Systems in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, who won the business woman of the year title and also the SME business of the year (growth) award.

Under her leadership the IT firm has become a £9m turnover business, employing 40 people. The other winners included an entrepreneur from Yorkshire who turned her pre-school dance academy into a national brand. Claire O’Connor, from Halifax, who triumphed in the retail business of the year category, set up babyballet in 2005.

Her company is a now a leading player in the franchise market. The awards also celebrated the achievements of Amy Archer, of Swift Leisure, in Cottingham, near Hull, who picked up the rising star award. Ms Archer is deputy managing director at one of the UK’s biggest manufacturers of caravans, motor homes and holiday homes. She is the only woman on the board.

The other Yorkshire-based winners of the national awards included Claire Turner, of TLC Accountants, from Wetherby, who received the start-up business of the year award and Kate Krachai, of Quality Context, Sheffield, who triumphed in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics business of the year category.

Sam Pearce of the Potting Shed Spa, Batley and Eastthorpe Hall, Mirfield won the SME Business of the year (emerging) category Griselda Togobo, managing director at Forward Ladies, said: “We were delighted to welcome applications from women across the UK. We are also happy to have been able to reward and celebrate the achievements of women from diverse backgrounds and industries, proving that success can be achieved by anyone through hard work and determination.

“Women are setting up their own businesses in unprecedented numbers and the news that women are also making strides in the boardroom signals a welcome shift.”

The Yorkshire Post was the media partner, and the major sponsors included HSBC.

The FORWARD Ladies Women in Business Awards, which are now in their sixth year, recognise the phenomenal contribution of business women who run companies of all shapes and sizes.

The special lifetime achieve-ment award was presented to lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone, who recently took her seat in the House of Lords. Baroness Mone, 44, who grew up in the east end of Glasgow, has been appointed by the Prime Minister as a business tsar with special responsibility for start-ups and will sit on the Conservative benches.

Ms Mone, who was unable to attend the awards at the Queens Hotel in Leeds because of business commitments, accepted the award in a pre-recorded video. Forward Ladies was founded in 1999, through the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward.

It now has a 14,200-strong membership. For more information visit www.forwardladies.com.

The full list of winners from the national finals is as follows:

- Business Woman of the Year & SME Business of the Year (Growth – 10 or more employees) – Alexa Greaves, AAG Systems, Killamarsh.

- Digital/Online Business of the Year - Sophie Taylor, Taylor Made Media, London.

- Inspiring Leader of the Year – Deborah Leary, Forensic Pathways, Birmingham.

- International Business of the Year – Leanne Bonner-Cooke, Ratby.

- Not for Profit/Social Enterprise of the Year – Toni Esberger, Click Nottingham

- Retail Business of the Year – Claire O’Connor, babyballet, Halifax.

- Rising Star of the Year – Amy Archer, Swift Leisure, Cottingham.

- SME Business of the Year (Emerging – less than 10 employees) – Sam Pearce, The Potting Shed Spa Batley & Eastthorpe Hall, Mirfield.

- Start-up Business of the Year – Claire Turner, TLC Accountants, Wetherby.

- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Business of the Year – Kate Krachai, Quality Context, Sheffield.

- Young Entrepreneur of the Year & special award for ‘One to Watch’– Rebecca McCann, Pro Blo

Group, Birkenhead.

- Special Lifetime Achievement award – Lady Michelle Mone OBE, founder of Ultimo.