- Julia Gash
As International Women's Day was being celebrated around the world on 8th March, I headed over to Llandudno, a Welsh Victorian seaside resort, to join several hundred other women at the Network She Business Awards. I also got to have a bracing walk along the Llandudno promenade the following morning ... freezing, fresh and the perfect way to blow away any winter cobwebs.
I was a finalist in the Business Woman of the Year category - I didn't get to go home with a trophy but had a fabulous time getting to know lots of insipiring women. As more and more women are setting up in business and running successful companies, employing and inspiring others, it's a great move forward from when I started out in business over twenty years ago.
Technology has made things easier, helping to create a more flexible work environment where women can work around familiy responsibilites. There are also many training and networking opportunities for women, which are invaluable in developing your key skills as a leader and giving you much needed support on your solo journey as an entrepreneur. I'm currently taking part in the Santander Women's Leadership Training Programme, which is part of their Breakthrough Programme. I get to focus on different aspects of running a small-fast growing business, with about ten other female entrepreneurs, once a month, led by an international expert in a specific field. After a session on financial management, my mantra this month is "Keep Close To The Numbers"! I also was lucky enough to go on a business women's trip to Boston and New York, sponsored by Santander Bank last year - in order to explore the export potential of our businesses, which I've certainly done over the past year, an account of which you can read on the Breakthrough website.
It's not always easy for women in business, particularly in Britain, where the old boys network and outdated attitudes towards women, and therefore business, still prevail. The Sheffield Business Review of the Year 2012 summed it up. Every single feature, quote and photograph and comment was of a man despite the fact that we have many successful and award winning business women in our city. Women were quite simply written out of our business history. I spoke about my views on this in my first blog for the new BIDBI website.
Not just on International Women's Day but as part of our business day, it's up to female entrepreneurs such as myself to speak out against such barriers to business ... we may be rendered invisible but at least we can ensure that we will be heard! Or as Ms Monroe Put It ...