Kent business, defined by women

Features Posted 10/08/18
A century on from women’s first right to vote and more than 40 years from the Sex Discrimination Act, finding a woman in the top role of a business is still relatively rare. This month, we start a series of features focusing on female entrepreneurs in the South East.

One big questions in business does not seem to be going away. How can we get more women involved at the highest levels in the corporate world?

There’s a reason why this issue remains front and centre – despite a lot of positive words and action and a number of high-profile, successful business women leading the way, there is still a long way to go.

Figures released in the Hampton-Alexander review, a government initiative looking to tackle UK corporate gender inequality, show that FTSE 350 companies are falling well short of the target of 33% female representation in boardrooms. In total, across FTSE 350 companies, women make up only 25.5% of directors.

To me and many of my contemporaries, this does not make sense. Some of the brightest minds I know in business are female and many of those are in Kent. We work closely with Laura Bounds, MD of Kent Crisps and Jane Ollis, MD of Quivium, both of whom continue to impress and inspire me. There are many more like them out there, making a huge impact in traditionally male-dominated industries.

However, I think we are seeing a shift and potentially a new approach to tackling this issue. As the data above suggests, businesses are not necessarily going to embrace diversity at leadership level, so instead these ambitious females are going it alone. According to this year’s Women’s Budget Group and Prowess report, more women have become self-employed than men in the UK since the 2008 financial crisis.

At Locate in Kent, we are seeing an increased number of businesses using our services led by women and we expect that number to grow. It would be a real positive for the county if it became a market leader when it came to supporting female business leaders and entrepreneurs, alongside its other benefits like connectivity with HS1, competitive commercial property costs and the offer of an enviable quality of life.

Not only would this encourage further investment within Kent, but also inspire and encourage the next generation of female business leaders. In 2017, 14,860 businesses were formed in the county. We look to beat that this year, with many of them being led by women.

By Gavin Cleary, CEO Locate in Kent

<a href=”>Click here to read the full feature including an interview with a profile of Emma Reynolds, co-founder of marketing agency The Wow Factor/a>

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