Female PM welcomed but there's still a lot of diversity work to do

The appointment of a female Prime Minister sends out a positive message to women who want to achieve their aims, the managing director of a female business networking group said.

triumph: Last year Alexa Greaves, managing director of AAG Systems in Killamarsh, near Sheffield, won the businesswoman of the year title. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Griselda Togobo, managing director of Forward Ladies, welcomed Theresa May’s appointment as PM as it will ensure more gender balance in Government.

However, the issue of gender balance and diversity hasn’t been solved, she warned.

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Ms Togobo told The Yorkshire Post: “We now have a female PM but that’s not to say that we have solved the issue of gender balance and diversity within business.

“There are sectors in business where women are grossly under-represented. We don’t have enough women in engineering, we don’t have enough women in STEM, we don’t have enough women on boards.”

Forward Ladies aims to promote female role models in business and one of the ways the organisation does this is through its National Women in Business Awards.

“The awards are a way of showcasing the amazing work of the role models that we have across business,” says Ms Togobo.

The shortlist has for this year’s awards has been revealed, with Ms Togobo describing the standard of entries for this year’s awards as “outstanding”.

Ms Togobo said: “This year we’ve had the biggest number of entries. We attracted fantastic nominations from across the country.

“We were very excited by the blend of diversity of the women who entered the awards.”

Debra White, regional director of small businesses for HSBC and awards judge, said: “There was an impressive number of high-calibre entries this year, highlighting the quality of talented businesswomen we have in the UK.

“These entrants are the future entrepreneurs of our country, with the Forward Ladies event to showcase the best Britain has to offer.”

Other judges included Ajaz Ahmed, the founder of Freeserve, Helen Samuels from United Utilities and Saha Hashemi, founder of Coffee Republic.

All shortlisted candidates will receive tailored business support from HSBC. Microsoft will also offer a full review of their ICT set-up.

The review will explore how their organisation can utilise technology across a range of business functions to drive business results.

Sharon Jandu, strategic partnerships, small and medium business at Microsoft, said: “Our mission and values are all about helping businesses unlock their full potential and we are excited about the prospect of working with the UK’s leading women in business and their companies, to support them to achieve this aim.”

Last year 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 the SME business of the year award.

Shortlisted candidates will now go on to regional finals and the winners from the regional finals will then head to the national final, which will held in Leeds on December 1.

The Yorkshire Post is media partner for the awards, which are sponsored by HSBC.

Organisation that champions role of women in the workplace

At last year’s Women in Business awards final lingerie entrepreneur Michelle Mone was presented with a special lifetime achievement award.

Forward Ladies was founded in 1999, through the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward.

It supports women in their professional lives and celebrates and champions the role of women in the workplace.

Etta Cohen OBE, who was instrumental in the founding of the organisation, handed over the reins to Griselda Togobo in 2014. Ms Togobo has increased the footprint of the awards, extending them to recognise women from across the country.

Sahar Hashemi, the founder of Coffee Republic, was the headline speaker at the 2015 awards and she said qualities such as the ability to multi-task were now prized in the world of work.

Full shortlist:

Digital category: Carolyn Pearson, Anne Taylor, and Katya Varbanova.

Inspiring Leader category: Vicki Davenport, Danielle Dixon, Yvonne Hall, Debbie Heald, Ruth Newton, Louise O’Brien, Justine Osmotherley, and Karen Temple.

International category: Vicki Davenport and Debbie Heald.

Not for Profit category: Tracy Basu, Claire Bennett, Hayley Gillard, Yvonne Hall, Genya Johnson, Linda Kirk, Jodie Marshall, Sophie Patton, Kathleen Redpath, Katie Rigarlsford, Julie Tweedale, Sharon Watson and Liz Weatherill.

Retail category: Clare Brophy, Sandra Corcoran, Christina Gabbitas, Claire Giffen, Rachel Salway and Toni Anne Sanderson.

Rising Star category: Sally Bogg, Lisa Grant, Alison Hobson, Poonam Kaur, Zandra Moore, Sunny Pahal and Joanne Wilkinson.

SME Emerging category: Charlotte Armitage, Rashmi Dube, Faye Formisano, Claire Giffen, Stefanie Hopkins, Sophie Milliken, Liz Preston, Lucy Tootell and Amy Wray.

SME Growth category: Clare Brophy, Emma Chidlaw, Kate Krachai, Claire Morley-Jones, Vicky Newham, Ruth Newton, Vicky Nolan, Louise O’Brien, Janet Smith and Karen Temple.

Start-up category: Janine Burley, Jane Capstick, Andrea Chatten, Katrina Cliffe, Jackie Cook, Hannah Duraid, Amy Jackson, Ellie MacDonald, Joanna Stephenson and Amy Stephenson.

STEM category: Julie Bickerdyke, Tamma Grummit-Carel, Debbie Heald, Kate Krachai, Vicky Nolan, Louise O’Brien, and Liz Towns-Andrews.

Young category: Hannah Duraid, Nicola Mellor, Jade Rose Topper, Katya Varbanova and Rachel Wood.