Women '˜must rebrand what leadership looks like in the 21st century'

MORE women must be willing to take up leadership roles in order to promote policies that will lead to gender equality, a major business event was told.

The panellists at the Forward Ladies event: Griselda Togobo, Forward Ladies; Susan Clark, LCF Law; Pauline Wilson, Virgin Holidays; Sarah Tulip, aql; Suzanne Smith, Soteria Asbestos;

The Yorkshire-based networking group Forward Ladies held a conference to mark International Women’s Day which celebrated the social, cultural and economic achievements of women.

Griselda Togobo, the managing director of Forward Ladies said: “Our speakers, and those joining us on the day, are everyday heroines, trailblazers and role models who are unapologetically pursuing their dreams and breaking through new barriers and inspiring their communities.”

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Ms Togobo said that International Women’s Day comes on the heels of an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, justice and gender equality.

She added: “Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to- action to press forward and progress gender parity.”

The event, which was held in partnership with aql and LCF Law, featured speeches from Pauline Wilson, the chief operations director of Virgin Holidays and Nicola Elliott, the founder of Neom Organics, the wellbeing and home fragrance brand,

Ms Wilson told her audience to lead by example and never over-promise and under-deliver when dealing with clients and customers. She also said that leaders should never be too busy to ask or seek advice.

Ms Elliott said business is fun, but it can also be tough and it was important to be tenacious in the face of rejection and criticism.

Ms Togobo said: “Always remember – a 100 years ago, women fought for the rights and privileges we now take for granted. What will they think now about how we are using those same privileges they fought so hard for?

“Ultimately, pressing for progress is about self-belief. You must believe in yourself and your ability to make a difference. It’s a great time to be a woman. Nothing can change that. Our success is vital to the success of the global economy.”

Ms Togobo said the event highlighted the fact that women must be ready to speak up for themselves and for others.

She added: “Nothing great was ever achieved when people failed to use their voice. Don’t underestimate what you can achieve. Put yourself forward for that project, for promotions and start that business. Dream big and go for it.”

Ms Togobo said that more women must be ready to step into leadership roles.

She added: “I see far too many women who are not ready to lead because they see leadership through the lens of male stereotypes.

“We need more female leaders to redefine and rebrand what leadership looks like in the 21st century and beyond.”

The Yorkshire Post was the media partner for the event, which was held at aql’s Salem Chapel in Leeds.

FORWARD Ladies was established to create a global platform that connects women to opportunities, networks, businesses and the expertise they need to achieve their ambitions.

Since its formation in 1999, the group has worked closely with some of the biggest names in business. Forward Ladies’ clients include HSBC, Yorkshire Water, Sage UK, United Utilities and Hitachi Rail.

It offers industry-specific leadership programmes with expert speakers and executive coaching to support female leaders.

The Forward Ladies National Awards celebrate the achievements of female entrepreneurs who are helping to bring jobs, investment and innovation to the UK. Forward Ladies also conducts online surveys and sponsored forum discussions .