The Female Focus: Part 2

"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish." —Michelle Obama

We've been consistently banging the drum about female empowerment since we set-up Mac&Moore almost two years ago, and both Nat and I have pledged that through the platform we want to create more visibility and promote the amazing female founders we've discovered who are re-defining what it means to found and run a business in 2018.

We’ve teamed with our very good pal Claudia at CLO PR and spoken to some incredibly talented ladies in the freelance, start-up and business world to discover exactly what the current momentum on female-focused issues means to them, and what they’ll be doing in the coming year to #PressForProgress.

EMMA SEXTON

Emma Sexton @misssexton, CEO of @MYWWteam, Broadcaster/Podcaster on @talkRadio and Creative in Residence at Kings College London.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"There are many! But for me, my focus is on how we change our working culture and one dimensional view of what makes a successful leader. Work is masculine in nature and until we value feminine values and leadership qualities as a viable alternative women are going to lose out."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"When I set up my business 5 years ago I did so with the determination to prove through my actions that you can have a working culture where everyone thrives so for me this year is about building on what I have already achieved and sharing those learnings with anyone who is interested in a more future-focused humanistic way of working."


LORETTE NETTAR

Lorette Nettar @Lorettenettar is a communications consultant for agencies and brands in advertising, digital, tech and marketing.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"Themselves. We can be our own harshest critics."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"I'm trying to encourage as many women as possible to believe in themselves and dream big."


VICTORIA DOVE

Freelance PR consultant and founder of @littlegnashers, Victoria Dove @victoriadove spoke to us about the biggest challenges for women in business and what she'll be doing to address them.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"Returning to work after having kids. Many employers are missing out on top talent because they can’t arrange their businesses to offer flexible working hours. We all have mobiles, laptops and the internet so it really shouldn’t be an issue anymore for office-based jobs."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"Speaking up and not starting every sentence with an apology or preamble to avoid coming over as aggressive. I want to let my confidence shine through and put my thoughts and ideas forward in just the same way as male colleagues do."


CAITLIN EVANS

Poet and Senior Planner at MBA, Caitlin Evans @CaitlinIona spoke to us on what she's doing this year to #PressforProgress, starting with the introduction of period days for female staff who need them.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"We often put on a brave face when times get tough. We accept burdens and say that everything’s fine. But if we spoke up and out more often we might have to deal with less crap."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"I want to open up really productive, ongoing conversations. My main aim is to help people give feedback without feeling awkward; to receive it without feeling defensive or embarrassed, and take action as a result of it."


HEIDI BUDINO

We caught up with Heidi Budino @senoritaheidi Freelance Global Sustainability & Social Purpose consultant at Shell, about the ongoing workplace gender imbalance and what she'll be doing to help address it this year.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"For me the biggest issue facing women in business is that as a society we still associate authority with a man which leads to women often feeling like they need to downplay their authority doing things like apologising when they haven’t done anything wrong or using we instead of I, even when they’ve personally accomplished something. This can result in women not being seen as the leaders they really are."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"Personally, I’m going to make a really conscious effort to check my language and make sure I’m being more direct, apologising less and using stronger phrases such as “I strongly recommend” or “My plan is.” I’m also going to be more aware in meetings when men are also in the room, bring female colleagues into the conversation if I can feel they’re hesitating to speak up or call a man out if they’re talking over me and not letting me finish."


ANTONIA TAYLOR

Antonia Taylor @antoniataylorpr is a PR specialist helping start-ups and SMEs grow through communications. She spoke to us for #TheFemaleFocus about how we can help other women onto the ladder.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"Self-belief. It still surprises me when I hear incredibly successful woman talk about imposter syndrome and this inner monologue we battle with every day. I work so hard on mind-set but it’s very much a work in progress."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"Mentoring is something I’m giving a lot of thought to. I’ve sadly seen so much lately about women pulling up the ladder behind them. I wish I’d realised that you can create a life you love, doing something you’re great at, being of service while working round your home life sooner. Having a mentor earlier on in my career would have been game-changing. So I’d like to invest in that, possibly working with other women in my field to create something meaningful."


SARAH WELSH AND FARAH KABIR

Sarah Welsh and Fara Kabir are the co-founders of @hanx_official, the first luxury vegan male condom designed for women, by women. They are empowering women to take charge of their own sexual health, wellbeing and pleasure.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"The number of female CEO's is ridiculously low in comparison to our male counterparts. There is still more to be done with regards to pushing women to reach their potential in leading roles. With a huge female empowerment movement and some amazing role models out there, we are positive this is heading in the right direction!"

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"As two female founders breaking barriers to positive sexual health and wellbeing, we are already part of this movement. By changing behaviours, initially with regards to condom use, we are subsequently combatting the issue of few women in business."


JAXX NELSON

Jaxx Nelson is the founder of Whisk Delivers @whiskdelivers, an online delivery service allowing new parents to receive delicious and nutritionally balanced meals at their convenience.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"As women even in 2018 we still have to make such a huge decision about having both a career and a family. This why I think the #FlexAppeal campaign which Mother Pukka aka Anna Whitehouse is championing, is brilliant. It’s starting a conversation and letting women know that they can ask for flexibility in their jobs, something we’ve not really considered before."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"I’ll be encouraging my friends who are family planning to speak openly with their company management about work flexibility. It's so important for women to be able to maintain our fought-for careers and have the family life we want."


ROSH THANKI

Rosh Thanki @roshthanki, award-winning trailer editor, creative lifestyle instagrammer and self-confessed neon addict on how she plans to #PressforProgress in 2018:

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"Quite simply, we can be unwelcoming to other women in the same industry. Females can be incredibly nasty to one another. Especially when we're in defence mode and are trying to fend off the competition. When we should be looking to widen our networks and support one another. Why waste your time and your energy in a feud with someone, when you can be friends with them?"

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"I'll be spreading the positivity by employing the strategy, 'community over competition'. The best thing about Instagram is the number of genuine friendships I've made from it. We can all forge connections with other amazing women in our industries. For example, I know that in the blogging/influencer community, we can then be each others' agents so we can lift everyone up together. There's no need for jealousy when we can share in everyone's success."


KIRSTIE MACLAREN & KATIE WOODWARD

Established in 2014 by Kirstie and Katie, two best friends and London Jewellers, The Workbench gives you the opportunity to create unique handcrafted jewellery in exciting and fun venues across the UK.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business

"Being jewellers means that we frequent London's jewellery quarter that is predominantly male based. In the past we have been in contact with dismissive people but we always put that down to being younger (not so much these days hehe). We are lucky enough to work with people we like and those that we don't, we don't give them our business!"


SHEEZA ANJUM

Founder of digital marketing agency, Speak Social Ltd, and award-winning social media and digital content specialist, Sheeza Anjum spoke to us about how the significant moments of 2017 have provided a platform to #PressforProgress

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"I think one of the biggest issues i’ve noticed is being able to defy social expectations of how business should be done. Having a 'so-called' feminine approach can sometimes make people think you’re not cut out for the actual cut throat business side of things when actually a softer approach can bring better results; especially in the long run. Finding a balance can sometimes be really challenging."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"Continue to stay strong in my beliefs, try to empower women in business and to try to show as many people as possible that a power battle isn’t always the best way forward."


ASMA SHAH

Founder and CEO of You Make It, Asma Shah has spoken to us in the echoes of #IWD18. Her business helps young women to transform their lives by giving them the tools for personal empowerment.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"A lack of confidence and connected to this, a fear of failure - we need to hear more from women who have experimented and failed and that this is okay, because you learn more from failure than from successes."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"I'll continue to do what I've been doing for 7 years - working with young and largely BAME women from unemployed and underemployed backgrounds to give them the confidence and attitude, networks and knowledge to take a leap and establish start ups."


LOUISE PADMORE

Work Well Being founder Louise Padmore had a great take on our questions around how new parents can balance their work. Running a business that is on a mission to change attitudes towards wellness in the workplace, this is a key time to practice what she preaches as she starts an exciting new journey of becoming a mother AND an entrepreneur.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business

"There’s a personal slant on this for me right now, as I am pregnant and currently planning how to continue to be involved with my business, whilst being a devoted Mum. I think whilst the rules around shared parental leave (introduced in 2015) go some way to evening out the balance of responsibility for childcare, for many men I feel that there’s a workplace culture that still makes this feel like an unacceptable thing for them to do."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"It’s not yet become the norm for men to take parental leave, but I’m hopeful that with more time, and more and more men stepping up to do this, there will be role models for others within organisations to do the same. For me personally, I’m fortunate to have an amazingly supportive partner, so between us we are going to find a way to balance the continuation of our careers/business with being new parents. I’d like to see more support for parents in the workplace, initiatives such as Second Home’s co-working space in London Fields which has a dedicated creche for members, was designed to support family-friendly working. I’d like to imagine a time where these kinds of facilities were available in many more organisations."


HOLLY DUTTON AND CAMILLA SUTTON

The Basket Room creates beautiful collections of handwoven, decorative storage baskets for the home. They work with small craft collectives in Africa to bring you ethical, stylish, accessories with a story.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business

"(In the UK) Balancing work and being a mum, often after maternity leave and quite understandably, women would prefer to return to a part-time role but many employers are still yet to offer flexible working. Why should mothers have to choose between the two? (In Kenya) Having the opportunity to start something they believe in, quite often the barrier is overcoming the stereotypical role society believes a woman should play."

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"(In the UK) We will be getting on board with @Motherpukka's campaign for #flexibleworking and ensuring that we also have these options in place in our workplace. (In Kenya) By creating more job opportunities through basket weaving, encouraging new members to join the cooperatives and investing in the women to believe in themselves."


SOPHIE HYDE

Dr Sophie Hyde @sophie_L_Hyde founded The Student Wordsmith as an online creative and literary platform allowing young writers to work towards their first publication and championing new voices.

Biggest issue/barrier for women in business?

"I think one of the biggest issues/barriers facing women in business is timing. I was only having a conversation with a friend the other day about when the right time is to choose to progress in your business/chosen career versus thinking about the right time for you (as a woman) to start a family and have time off for that very momentous milestone in your life!"

What are you doing to #PressforProgress?

"One of the things we're doing this year is encouraging and empowering women writers to develop their practice no matter what point in their life or creative career they may be at. We run a series of writing webinars (evenings and lunchtimes) for our community (which includes many talented women!) and this enables them to make their own decision on the right time/place for them to further develop their work and think about publication or progression for their work. They can even request a specific time or date for a session if they would like a bespoke one, too."