International Women’s Day Flagship Event Takeaways

Today’s been a very exciting day for our team, as we were lucky enough to attend Scotland’s International Women’s Day flagship event of 2019 hosted by Business Gateway and City of Edinburgh Council. The event was held at Edinburgh City Chambers and included various inspiring women entrepreneurs on their panels, as well as keynote speaker Nicola Sturgeon (one of team D6’s favourite women!) They shared stories of their experiences, best practices, top tips and advice. We didn’t want you to miss out, so we’ve each put together our top three takeaways from the event.

Jenni’s Takeaways

1. “You can’t be what you can’t see” – We need to increase the visibility of women in senior management roles to give younger women positive and powerful roles models. I’ll be looking into becoming a mentor for women starting off on their career in management, project management or business operations.

2. The Scottish Government have just released a new report on the gender pay gap. Whilst the gap is narrowing, and Scotland is doing better than the rest of the UK (~5%, compared to ~8%) we still have a lot of work to do. Nicola Sturgeon talked about businesses conducting a ‘pay gap audit’. This is something I think all businesses should commit to doing in 2019.

3. I was a little disappointed that the room was made up of 99% women at this event. If we are truly striving for #BalanceforBetter then it would have been nice to see a more even gender split at this event. We need to ALL be working towards gender equality, it is a human issue, not a women’s issue.

IWD 2019 Panel

Panellist: Alison Grieve – CEO at G-Hold, Lynne Cadenhead – Chair of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, Celia Hudson – Founder of Hey Girls, Jill Henry – Founder of Meander Apparel

Louise’s Takeaways

1. It was very encouraging to hear that 49% of start-up businesses in Edinburgh are run by women. My hometown is clearly a great place to be for launching a business as a woman. It’s also great to hear that Business Gateway are launching a Women In Business (WIB) Growth program. This is to help promote female entrepreneurship in Scotland and includes expert workshops and opportunities to develop contacts.

2. Lynne Cadenhead made an interesting point that women have a fundamentally different approach to risk. We generally consider risks a lot more than men, but unfortunately this can come across as unambitious. However, our advanced risk awareness is more likely to help make our businesses more sustainable in the long run.

3. It was great to hear top tips from the panelists on how women can succeed in business; learn how to sell as this is vital for creating customers and revenue, make sure you put some time aside to look after yourself to avoid burnout, and learn to say no more.

Claire’s Takeaways

1. One stark observation was the lack of men that were at the event. Sadly the discussion surrounding equality and reducing the gender gap is largely with women having the conversations with other women. IF equality and diversity is to be strived for then women AND men need to be involved. There was a lot of discussion about the fact that it’s often men who are involved in making decisions that impact women however, there was no discussion WITH men on how to address things?

2. The biggest impact that I believe we can have is by championing diversity much much earlier – in education, with the availability of modern apprenticeships, the encouragement of entrepreneurial actions by both boys and girls in schools and encouraging EVERYONE to take part by removing gender stereotypes at a much younger age.

Young girls being encouraged into engineering, science and technology and young boys being encouraged into more care-related roles; we need to break with “tradition” more now than ever to ensure workplaces of the future are equal and diverse. Until the imbalance is addressed, those who will be fulfilling roles in the future will be no better served with equality and diversity than what we are now.

3. It was highly encouraging to hear, from the First Minister, what Scotland is doing to champion the strength in diversity, and how Scotland plays a pivotal part in creating diversity by leading the way with reducing things like the gender pay gap. Collective actions are needed as the pay gap impacts everyone, not just women and it is heartening to hear the steps being taken by the Scottish Government. The future is a little brighter but it needs to be brighter still if we are going to make a sustainable change.

Amber’s Takeaways

1. It was great to hear from the First Minister that on International Women’s Day that Business Gateway are launching its first Women in Business (WIB) Growth Programme, which will enable more women entrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses.

2. The IWD event didn’t just focus on the positive, Professor Lynne Cadenhead of Women’s Enterprise Scotland highlighted that failure is an inherent part of building a resilient mindset that’s fundamental to the growth of your business.

3. My final takeaway came from Professor Lynne Cadenhead that when setting up a business women must learn to sell, because they’re often taken back by objections in pitches and need to be able to deal with this. Women’s Enterprise Scotland in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University is working on a sales program both online and offline for women to be able to learn to sell for their business.

Keynote Speaker Nicola Sturgeon

Marta’s Takeaways

1. I really liked the point raised about effort being made to try to change the mindset of young women – and change their way of thinking about the roles/jobs that girls/women should not be doing.

2. In Scotland 3/5 of startups are men owned and only 2/5 are women-owned, this is because of a lack of equity availabe to women entrepreneurs.

3. I was impressed to learn that comparing businesses, women-owned businesses outperform men

Useful Links

Business Gateway
Women’s Enterprise Scotland

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