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Creating Positive Footprints....

Pink Shoe Winter Soiree

On the Winter Solstice in the Jubilee Room of the House of Commons, Pink Shoe members and guests were hosted by Loraine Midda as we gathered for an evening of seasonal networking and celebrations.

Arriving at an unusually quiet Parliament in time to enjoy the amazing Christmas tree in the Great Hall, some of the partygoers were also able to visit the stunning Palace of Westminster chapel, with its glorious Victorian décor – a very special start to the evening.

We were brilliantly looked after by Palace Police and Security Officers, who teased some of the guests for not wearing pink shoes!

Over the ubiquitous pink fizz we chatted and shared news and plans for the holidays, then tucked into a scrumptious buffet of favourite seasonal foods, laid out on a sparkling table with pink lights, holly and ivy.

As the party progressed we toasted the engagement of Pink Shoe Ambassador Cali Bird (below, 2nd right) to Graham, and admired her gorgeous diamond solitaire.

All too soon the evening was over, with some of the guests continuing on for drinks at Roux at Parliament Square before heading home.

Tea with the Serjeant at Arms

At the House of Commons we were fully booked for our 2nd Tête-à-Têtes Tea, this time the spotlight was on Parliament itself as we heard from Serjeant at Arms Jill Pay, in conversation with Úna Mcbride.

In almost 600 years, Jill is the first woman to hold the role. She took us through her early career, having worked in senior administrative roles and with some significant schools projects, Jill has had a very different career from the military men who preceded her.

We heard a fascinating explanation of the duties involved, such as the ceremonial that takes place each day, sitting in the Commons chamber and being responsible for security within the House of Commons. Jill told us that the Mace the Serjeant at Arms carries, and which is present in the Chamber whenever the House is sitting, represents the Sovereign, so can never be in the same room as the Queen herself.

Úna then asked Jill about the person who had been her biggest inspiration. We could certainly identify with Betty Boothroyd who was a magnificent Speaker of the House, commanding respect and admiration from MPs of all parties and bringing gravitas and style to the role in equal measure. It’s clear that Jill has succeeded in that too.

With such a high profile role, Úna asked about some of the sacrifices that have been necessary to do a job that’s constantly in the public eye. Jill said the lack of privacy had been difficult at times – especially where the media were concerned. However the benefits have been far greater and long lasting.

Jill described to us some of the many state visits she has been part of, such as President Obama’s last year. She gave us a true insight into the man himself – unusually for such an important figurehead Jill was impressed by the President’s naturalness and concern for others, as for example, she saw him go out of his way to shake hands with even the most junior staff.

Jill also related the visit of Pope Benedict and mentioned the charisma of one of his senior aides, who clearly made a lasting impression on the Serjeant at Arms! Of course security is a key part of the extensive preparation that goes into the planning of each state visit, and in fact is a crucial daily aspect of the work of the House of Commons.

With a more lighthearted focus, Úna asked the very stylish Serjeant which were her favourite shoe brands. Like many of us, Jill has a wide collection of shoes with many different styles and makes - when asked to choose just one, we could all agree with her choice as LK Bennett tops the list for Jill.

So, as she moves on from this historic job, what next for Jill Pay? Jill is involved in the reading campaign run by the Evening Standard and is already working with inner London school children, so plans to do more in such a vital role helping children learn to read.

We’re also delighted to announce that Jill will be joining Pink Shoe Club in Liverpool to help launch Pink Shoe Club North West at ‘Panoramic 34’ on January 26th!

Kick Starting Britain

Pink Shoe Club partnered with the W2W Professional Women’s Network for its second event, held in association with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Entrepreneurship at Smith & Williamson’s HQ in Moorgate.

The debate, whether Government should support new businesses or focus resources on established entrepreneurs with a proven business, was energetic and absorbing.

Chaired by Jackie Stevenson (above, 2nd left) Our panellists – Mark Field MP, Jo Gideon and Anna Sofat (above, L-R) each gave a short presentation putting forward their personal view.

Mark believes that practical measures such as NI holidays for new businesses or SMEs would boost employment and thus the economy. Jo Gideon agreed, telling us that if 1/3 of the UK’s SMEs each employed one trainee we would eradicate youth unemployment!

As a small business owner, Anna was keen to remind us of the passion inherent in entrepreneurs. And that the skills small businesses add to the economy benefit the wider environment in which they operate. Jo’s experience on TV’s Village SOS demonstrated that it is possible to create a small, viable business in even the most rural area.

There are a range of measures that will assist the long term success of small business especially education that is more relevant to the needs of employers, enabling greater flexibility, and a continued focus on reducing red tape.

Brilliantly chaired by Jackie, as the discussion expanded it was clear that with both the panel and the audience consensus was reached. Government needs to target resources at both new and established SMEs.

The evening continued with networking over drinks and canapés. It was a good chance to meet many of the senior women from Smith & Williamson, along with PWN members and guests.

The Great British Buffet

For the grand finale to its annual interprise event, Pink Shoe Club again held the ‘Great British Buffet’ networking reception, featuring artisan and local British producers.
Hosted by The Earl of Erroll along with Helene Martin Gee, the reception took place at the glorious River Room by kind permission of The Lord Speaker. 

As ever, we were extremely well looked after by the charming Terry Eiss.

We were joined by Anne Marie Morris MP (right) founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Micro Business. Anne Marie spent time with delegates and was able to exchange views with some of the start-up business owners as well as school and university students.
Guests mingled with the speakers and panellists, sharing opinions on the debate, and exchanging business cards with a view to future opportunities. It was good so many students were able to stay for the reception, including those from Lambeth Academy and Goldsmiths, London University, plus emerging entrepreneurs from the NESTA pioneers programme.

The buffet table was laden with an array of tempting dishes chosen by food writer Lyndon Gee. From game pies and mini venison Yorkshire puddings to Gloucester Old Spot sausages and Haslet. Also on offer were baby Caerphilly and leek tarts, homity pies, Scottish smoked salmon, Wye Valley poached salmon and Sussex mackerel wraps.

Kentish artisan fruit juices including a very popular pear juice were available for students, along with sparkling English and red & white wines.

The evening went far too quickly, guests agreed it was a very special event in an unbeatable location with great food, excellent company....
 and stunning views..

A successful end to a brilliant interprise:2011!

With thanks to everyone involved and especially:
 Stephen Wagland, Sheila Williamson, Max Berendt, Sanya-Jeet Thandi for all their help and hard work!

interprise:2011 - Investing in Enterprise

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), Pink Shoe Club in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Entrepreneurship held its 5th annual enterprise summit.

interprise:2011 was awarded a 'High Impact' Badge of Honour from GEW.

In the resplendent surroundings of the Houses of Parliament, the assembled audience of entrepreneurs and students filled Committee Room 12 of the Commons almost to bursting point. Delegates were welcomed by Lord Ahmed, then listened attentively to the thoughts of two distinguished guest speakers before questions were opened up to the floor and answered by a panel of experts.

The Speakers
Our speakers for the evening were Doug Richard and Andrew Fiddaman. Doug, best known for appearing in two series of the popular TV show Dragons’ Den, is a highly successful entrepreneur and active angel investor. He has started four companies, lectures on entrepreneurship at Cambridge University, and, through his social enterprise ‘School for Startups’, has taught over 10,000 people how to start their own business.

Andrew is a rare juxtaposition of someone who has started their own businesses but also worked for a very large organization, British Airways, in a variety of senior management positions. He is also managing director of The Prince’s Youth Business International (YBI), hosts of Global Entrepreneurship Week, has for the last 11 years, supported entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 by providing start-up capital, business advice and the infinite benefits of a global network.

The Importance of Entrepreneurship
By pinpointing key themes, Doug and Andrew’s speeches complimented each other incredibly effectively. They both spoke of the undervalued importance of entrepreneurship and new business. Andrew claimed that it is often forgotten that no one actually starts a big business; that even Bill Gates once ran a start-up. He made the point that the vast majority of employment growth comes from young, small and medium-sized businesses.

Doug took this theme further by addressing the difference between young businesses and small businesses. He suggested that the real key to growth is youth; that almost all the new jobs made in the last 20 years were created by businesses less than a few years old.  New businesses are inevitably volatile but if they survive to become healthy, sustainable operations, they have done so, perhaps with fortune and by making good decisions, but also through innovation – by do something new or better than it has been done before. That innovation drives growth, in turn creating jobs and wealth.

Funding and the role of Government

So if entrepreneurship is so important to the recovery and future growth of our bruised and battered economy, what needs to be done to more effectively support it?
Both speakers addressed the role of government. They raised the case that entrepreneurship and government are not necessarily easy bedfellows. Doug suggested that the kinds of people who succeeded as entrepreneurs and those that succeeded in government were perhaps intrinsically different character types. Andrew said that often the best thing government can do to help new business was to simply “get out of the way.” 
However, they agreed that despite this conflict, government does have a potentially significant role to play in the success of start-ups and the development of enterprise. Andrew claimed that start-ups are often at a disadvantage in the face of rules and regulations designed for much bigger organizations and that ways needed to found to ‘level the playing field’.
Doug said the government should think about how it looks to fund small businesses. He made the point that business models that succeed often don’t look very likely to do so before that success takes place. With early funding so tough to secure and access to venture capital so rare, government should get out of the habit of making heavy funding available to a select few and instead liberate smaller amounts of money to everyone. If predicting success is almost impossible, funding bodies should not be in the business of picking winners.

Changing the Narrative
Having addressed the danger of undervaluing entrepreneurship, both Doug and Andrew spoke of the need for it to be perceived differently and how this is already beginning to happen. Andrew said entrepreneurs need help finding ways to make a difference to their communities, not just to themselves, and this was an issue raised later by Sally Goodsell in the Q&A session, who suggested that perhaps in the future it would be useful not to make the distinction between enterprise and social enterprise. And if businesses do help change their environment for the better, communities need to be told. Andrew claimed the general public perception of entrepreneurs as just people like Richard Branson and Alan Sugar was a result of too few stories of local entrepreneurs being heard. Stories that people can relate to are needed in order to inspire them.
One way stories are told is on television. Doug spoke of TV as a ‘culture change agent’ and described how Dragons’ Den, with no post-watershed slot available to it, captured a young audience quite by accident and was able to act as inspiration to many as a result. The show’s original target audience was an older one, and apparently more likely to view it as car-crash telly, as wannabe entrepreneurs got cruelly lambasted by the fire-breathing Dragons. A younger audience saw it differently. They did not feel sorry for the contestants; instead they felt that they could do better than them. In short, a narrative was created that showed them what was possible.
Questions for the Panel
Both speakers had been in inspiring form themselves. Now was the chance for those who had listened so carefully, to get their questions in.

Alongside the chairman and founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Entrepreneurship, Lord Ahmed, were the Group’s Chief Adviser and founder of the Pink Shoe Club, Helene Martin Gee; Enterprise Editor of The Mail on Sunday, Helen Loveless; and entrepreneurs Sally Goodsell, CEO of South East Finance Forum, and Sheetal Radia, Founder of Financial Architecture and Adviser to the CFA. The discussion was skillfully chaired by Atiti Sosimi, founder and CEO of the personal development organization, Distinctly Different.
The many interesting questions put to the panel covered a broad range of issues from the impact of the media and the eurozone on enterprise to the significance of the role of the manufacturing industry in the economy’s recovery. The majority of questions, however, many asked by the students of Woodside School, were concerned with how to become a successful entrepreneur.
Advice, Mentoring and Education
Andrew spoke of the ability needed by an entrepreneur to take risks and not be afraid of failure. He suggested that sometimes cultural pressures discourage risk taking but that learning from one’s mistakes was vital. Helene argued that while having transferable skills always helped, they can also be acquired through experience.

And whilst one’s own skills are of course significant, both Andrew and Sally suggested that recognizing one’s weaknesses was more important; Helene added that surrounding oneself with people whose skills complement your own was often a key to success.
Sheetal talked of the need to embrace change and when asked how you know if an idea you have for a business is going to work or not, said that if you can encapsulate your idea succinctly in 30 seconds, it stands a chance. He said it was also important to get honest, objective feedback. Andrew reminded the audience not to forget to have fun.
Much enlightening advice was given by our panel of experts, underlining the vital role advice-giving and mentoring has in the development of young businesses. Doug said a business can fail because of one bad decision that might have been avoided with the right advice. Andrew spoke of the key role mentoring can have in the creation of networks; that success was often not just because of a relationship developed between mentor and mentoree but with the mentors contacts too.
The event had been a valuable education and perhaps above all else it underlined the value of education itself. When asked by a student if it was worth going to university, Doug told her not to throw away her education and claimed the idea of being born an entrepreneur was a myth often perpetuated by entrepreneurs themselves. Doug also stressed his belief that entrepreneurship can be taught. Knowing how to start a business and create a business model are skills that can be learnt. His School for Startups is testament to that. The panel spoke of the in-built qualities shared by every successful entrepreneur such as passion, perseverance and open-mindedness. Doug suggested, however, that beyond those (and of course not forgetting a good idea!) all other variables are irrelevant. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have the power to make it happen. A message to inspire anyone!

With thanks to Max Berendt for this excellent report of the event along with accompanying photographs.

Women of the Year Lunch

To the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane for this year's Women of the Year lunch. PSC Founder Helene Martin Gee was glad to be invited by Roz Morris, founder of TV News. The Champagne reception provided the opportunity to catch up with many old friends - the only complaint being there wasn't enough time to talk with everyone!

Although the phrase is often over-used, this really was an inspiring occasion. A widely diverse group of women from every imaginable arena were celebrated and celebrating.

Our charming table host was Frances O Grady, and it was a pleasure to spend time with her along with Julia Collis, Sandra Verkuten and Sue Wilkins amongst others.

The outstanding Award winners (left) were each given a well-deserved standing ovation as they collected their Award.

Photograph from Women of the Year.

Pink Shoe hosts South Asia Democratic Forum

Pink Shoe Club along with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Entrepreneurship was delighted to host the inaugural meeting of the South Asia Democratic Forum, based in Brussels.

The roundtable was presided over by Lord Ahmed at the House of Lords. He spoke eloquently of the need for men and women to work together on business opportunities. Nazir said this is not a new idea – far from it, as he told us of the Prophet Mohammed who happily worked for many years for a highly successful business woman, who in fact became his wife.

Helene Martin Gee of Pink Shoe welcomed guests to the debate. Then Carmen Godeneau explained the background to the SADF and its objectives of bringing together people of South Asia with European business people.

We heard excellent presentations from Madi Sharma, entrepreneur and member of the European Economic & Social Committee; Sue Lawton, Director of WEConnect International, and Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj of Henley Management Centre at Reading University and co-founder of the International Centre for Enterprise & Entrepreneurship (ICE).

Madi went on to chair the discussion, which covered the vast scale of the topic and the many areas of potential impact. This was followed by a light lunch as we further shared ideas. The next event will take place in Paris early in 2012, followed by a third forum in Brussels.

Tête-à-Têtes Tea

Pink Shoe members were entertained in magnificent style at the luxurious 5 star St James’s Hotel and Club for an elegant Champagne Afternoon Tea.

With scrumptious sandwiches and cakes including delicious ‘pink choux’ pastries, we were served with panache in the Mayfair Suite.

A timely visit, as the hotel had just been awarded a top UK business destination hotel.

We were welcomed by the delightful MD, Henrik Muehle, resplendent in pink silk tie he personified the hotel’s charm.

PSC Founder Helene Martin Gee thanked the hotel, then introduced our speakers - and what a treat we had in store. A captivating conversation between Tanya Rose, founder of Mason Rose and author of ‘Travel Secrets’ in conversation with Pauline Crawford, founder of Corporate Heart and Magical Conversations.

We heard how Tanya started her business and some of her top tips for success, much of which is due to her obvious love of her work and enthusiasm for running the company. It was a lighthearted conversation but with valuable lessons for all aspiring business owners.

Tanya puts her team of ‘Mason Rosettes’ at the heart of all she does with Mason Rose, and of course nothing is too much trouble for her international clientele. By focusing at the very top of the market Tanya works with discerning clients from around the world, they insist on the best and Mason Rose ensures it always delivers.

Pauline asked questions with such deftness and lightness of touch, we felt we were listening to a chat between friends, yet we each learned much from the ‘tetes a tetes’. As promised, Tanya then revealed some of the hidden gems of the discerning traveler and how the quest for that special coffee place is just as important as five star luxury.

With a lively Q&A, we agreed with Tanya that life/work balance is key and that keeping focused and believing in oneself are fundamental to business growth, whatever the economy is doing.

Pauline brought the conversation to a close, and we lingered over our tea treats and Champagne. As we made our way home we were thrilled with the delightful gift of Ormonde Jayne bath creme, most of us also with a signed copy of ‘Travel Secrets’ to explore, both via the book and hopefully in person very soon!

With thanks to: The St James’s Hotel and Club, and their wonderful team, especially Kate Dixon & Sarah Wilkins; Pauline Crawford; Tanya Rose, Ruurd and Benedetta of Mason Rose; and Ormonde Jayne for the lovely gift.

Supper Quiz at Charlie's

To raise funds for Save the Children, Pink Shoe Club fielded a team at the annual supper quiz organised by STC Kensington. At the stylish Charlie's cafe in Portobello Road we enjoyed a marvellous array of food and wines, and managed to answer a few questions too! We didn't win, but our score was a good average and we had lots of fun.

More importantly, the event raised over £3,000 for Save the Children's  'No Child Born to Die' campaign. Funds were matched by Government pound-for-pound which doubled the sum!

Pink Shoe Sparkling Wine Tasting

To ensure a sparkling start to the new Life:Style Forum, the world's first specialist sparkling wine shipper Grays & Feather hosted an informal tutored wine tasting for us.

Wines were selected by Andrew Gray Wardle, founder of Grays & Feather, who led us through a tempting array of white, rose and even a red sparkling wine.

To accompany each wine we enjoyed seasonal gourmet delicacies created by leading food writer Lyndon Gee.

Tasting notes on the wines were provided by Andrew and added to with our own comments after each tasting.

There were many different opinions on each wine, although we all agreed they were of great quality and went extremely well with the gorgeous food.

After much sipping and slurping, rather a lot of actual swallowing, and lots of discussion too, courtesy of Grays & Feather we each left with a much-admired baby bottle of fizz!

Pink Shoe Summer

Summer is nearly over and back at Pink Shoe HQ we've been busy organising some exciting events for the autumn and developing our new website!

We’ll be launching our new ‘Life:Style’ forum next month. A range of events to expand our knowledge both professionally and personally, and also for members to enjoy fine foods and wines, with exciting gourmet experiences. Some members have asked us to provide more intimate events as well as the larger gatherings, so Life:Style events will offer a variety of different activities for members and friends to meet up.

The first two events are coming up: on September 27th a sparkling wine tasting from exclusive shipper ‘Grays & Feather’ and on October 4th we can improve our personal brand with an in-depth workshop from Joy Johnson & Maud Siley.

We are delighted to have been joined by Stephen Wagland, who is going to reorganise our database prior to the launch of our new e-shot. Stephen is with us as an Intern to gain work experience and has a stellar track record in riding, winning many awards and cups!

Pink Shoes on the Terrace

Pink Shoe members were hosted by Helene Martin Gee on the terrace of the House of Lords for an informal Pimms lunch in the sunshine.

It was great to be overlooking the river as we discussed our summer holidays and watched the crowded pleasure boats cruising past.

We munched delicious sandwiches and fruit, and caught up with friends in the unhurried atmosphere. Of course we couldn’t resist talking business and swapping ideas on opportunities.

We also shared our views on social media with Ambassador Vena Ramphal who is very media savvy and features in this month’s GQ as well as other magazines and on radio too.

Ambassador Averil Leimon tells us she is looking forward to opening her fab new offices in trendy Bermondsey, so no doubt we'll hear more on that and her forthcoming women-focused events in the autumn.

Mostly we just enjoyed sitting on the terrace in an unusually quiet Palace of Westminster, watching the world go by.…

Pink Shoe Summer Luncheon

At the House of Lords on Quatorze Juillet Pink Shoe Club held its special summer networking luncheon in the lovely rooms overlooking the beautiful gardens of Westminster Abbey.

The sun was shining, bunting festooned the room and the French and English flags were flying!
Hosted by Helene Martin Gee along with Pink Shoe Patron Tessa Sanderson CBE, members and guests networked with other senior women and some gentlemen too.

Each of us wore something pink, which really lifted the spirits of the group – and who could be anything but happy drinking Pimms or pink fizz with fascinating friends in a beautiful venue? 

This unique occasion was the opportunity to celebrate our new links with European Women in Leadership (WIL) based in Paris, with whom we will be holding some exciting joint events and connecting on vital issues relevant to women in Europe. More on this soon!

It was also a lovely way to meet potential business contacts and renew links with old friends and colleagues, as well as entertain clients in a very sociable and elegant atmosphere.

The buffet was simply stunning, naturally our colour theme matched the occasion and the red, white and blue looked very jolly. With a good flavour of France from the cheese board, fruits de mer and pâté to salads including remolulade and salade nicoise.

We then enjoyed a bilateral dessert celebration with chocolate éclairs and English strawberries.

It was another memorable day, and afterwards as we made our way back to work a few lucky people had a special private tour of the Palace of Westminster.

Luckily we were forgiven by our French guests for flying Le Tricolore back to front!

 The way to remember is BBR (bleu, blanc, rouge) so now we’re sure to get it right.

W2W Professional Women's Network Inaugural Event

The Women 2 Win Professional Women’s Network held their inaugural event in association with the Brooklyn Brothers and members of Pink Shoe Club, by kind permission of Baroness Jenkin, in the auspicious surroundings of the House of Lords.
Sixty highly successful women from a range of professions gathered to discuss the future of the workplace, ready to answer the question: In order for business to thrive, do we need to be adopting a new approach to the way we work and should happiness be as important a measure as performance?
The debate was kicked off by enlightening and informative contributions from our three guest speakers, Chris Grayling MP, Minister for Employment (who must have felt incredibly out-numbered being one of only three men in the room!); Aileen Simkins, Director of Operations for the Office of National Statistics (ONS) with a responsibility for developing a system of measuring national well-being known as the Happiness Index, and Jessica Pryce-Jones; founder and CEO of iOpener who specialise in advising companies on the importance of employee happiness.

Chris Grayling suggested the debate needed to focus not just on those in work but those out of work too. For those in society who have suffered periods of long-term unemployment, the workplace is, itself, a symbol of happiness. Because work is essentially ‘good for people’ and this highlighted the importance of his ministerial responsibility to get more people into employment. 
He assured the audience that government is committed to encouraging flexibility in the workplace which he made clear he felt was a particularly significant issue for women with children. Employers needed to understand its employees’ needs and actively help them find the right balance between work and other commitments. He said a modern workplace that better reflected the reality of people’s lives was a happier place and also a more motivated and productive place as a result.
David Cameron believes GDP shouldn’t be the only way we measure how well the country is doing. But while productivity can be measured, can happiness?

Aileen Simpkins and the ONS have been working out how to do just that. Since launching their well-being programme, they've asked around 200,000 people to rate their life satisfaction on a scale of zero to 10 and asked other questions about levels of happiness, anxiety, and how worthwhile people feel the things they do in life are. The first annual results will be available in July 2012.
These should show how feelings of happiness and anxiety differ between areas and groups such as the young and old, the employed and the unemployed. Aileen claimed their results show job satisfaction is one of three main factors (up there with health and relationships) that affect peoples’ well-being the most: work affects your soul, not just your bank balance!
So if job satisfaction is so important to us, perhaps it needs to be given more serious focus. It affects our well-being, and also, as alluded to by Chris Grayling, dramatically impacts the productivity of our businesses.

It was this fact Jessica Pryce-Jones focused on. She is in the business of happiness in the workplace.  The iOpener Institute have developed a methodology to measure the happiness of employees and its effects.  They then help companies to introduce their “Science of Happiness at Work”. 
Whilst I must confess to have always been a little cynical as to how intangibles like happiness can be quantitatively measured, I, as I believe was everyone else in the room, hugely impressed by how Jessica explained this was done and how forcibly she argued the importance of this work.
It was revelatory to hear that whilst the happiest employees spent 80% of their time on task, those unhappiest at work spent only 40% of their time on task.  So unhappiness was, she claimed, an incredibly expensive unseen cost – worth £3 million per 1000 employees a year - increasingly more important, as Generation Y’ers explicitly prioritise happiness more than previous generations.
The theme of how happiness can be addressed by businesses continued as the debate was opened up to the floor. There was a sense of agreement that businesses should be about more than just increasing shareholder value.  Jessica felt, in light of the impact of happiness, firms have to start thinking not about the triple bottom line but the quadruple bottom line instead. Chris suggested this would come about naturally from the increased glare of transparency at all levels of government and business. Many felt organisations need to focus on different ways of showing how they value individual contributions other than through promotion.
Whilst how employers treat employees was clearly viewed as important, many felt the issue had to be addressed at a much earlier age. Some felt self-esteem should be addressed at schools. Chris agreed with this, suggesting work ethic and the fostering of achievement (in a wider range of ways) had to be looked into at an earlier age to help instil competitive drive.
Others argued that children need a clearer understanding of working environments and what work really entails, claiming not enough parents explain to their children what they do for a living or give them chance to visit their place of work.
Perhaps the most interesting issue raised was that of unrealistic expectations. Children are taught to broaden their horizons but the jobs they want often don’t exist: Its clearly impossible for all those with university degrees in Media Studies to get a good job in the media for example. Chris argued graduates shouldn’t expect to simply walk into a job in their chosen field and needed to approach their careers more strategically. More should be done to encourage realistic vocational goals at an earlier age. This disparity between job expectations and job satisfaction is not likely to disappear anytime soon: a disappointed workforce will lead to disappointing economic return.
This was a hugely successful first outing for the Women2 Win Professional Women’s Network with many thought-provoking issues raised. It was concluded that happiness should not be viewed as a rival to productivity as a means of measuring business success; rather as a factor that dramatically affects the productivity of business that in turn affects its long-term success. As Jessica pointed out, it may not always have been popular with alpha male boomers but clearly the ‘H’ word is back on the agenda.
With thanks to Max Berendt for his report on this event.

Pink Shoe hosts leading Bangladesh Diplomats

Helene Martin Gee and Pink Shoe Ambassadors hosted a high level group of Bangladeshi Officials, including the Finance Minister, who were visiting Britain to explore fresh ideas and share best practice.

One of three groups in the UK for an intensive programme at the Centre for International Development at Bradford University, the delegates’ main focus was improving and expanding women’s enterprise, working specifically on a project dealing with support for women entrepreneurs.

Along with Dr Roberto Espindola from the University, we held a fascinating roundtable discussion in one of the House of Commons tea rooms, looking at ways to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, particularly with reference to facilitating their access to loans for SMEs, and sharing some of the funding methods that we in the UK have tried and tested.

It was clear this group of senior men had some great ideas and truly wanted to help create a new generation of women business owners. They have already set up a range of excellent initiatives for Government support and match funding, and just as importantly have established pilot schemes where successful entrepreneurs are passing on their skills and experiences to emerging business owners. We agreed this mentoring would be vital for business growth and success.

During the formal meeting we also discussed the many benefits of female-led businesses with the proven improvements we see at family, local and national levels. This is being demonstrated across many countries. Bangladesh is working hard to gather support not just from women but also from male relatives too, which is crucial given cultural expectations.

Following the formal discussion we enjoyed a reception afterwards in the House of Lords, and delegates were able to meet a number of Pink Shoe Club’s entrepreneur members.

There was  further debate as the group responded to ideas from these successful UK women entrepreneurs from a variety of different business sectors.

However, we could not help but comment that as far as Pink Shoe members went, we would have loved to meet with some of the women involved and to see women leading on such a vital a project to engage with other women.

We hope that with the project’s success, the next visit will include many successful business women!

Leaders Forum: Pink Sky Thinking

This was a powerful half-day seminar led by Una McBride & Vanda Green, with great input from Jill Case.

A group of senior women, including CEOs, creatives and top academics were guided by Una to 'Dream: Decide: Do'

We did this firstly by recognising our achievements, which was tougher than some people had imagined. 

We were then helped to gain clarity of vision for our future.

Once we had each started to envision our dream we focused on the 'pink practicalities' necessary to get tangible results from the personal vision we identified. We learned how to break down our goals into actions and also how to ask for support.

Every one of us gained some extraordinary insights – in some cases literally life changing, which was much more than we had expected from just one afternoon!

Here is what people said:

“The session was well paced to enable me to visualise the one key thing I want to do in my life, now.

“The session allowed me to dream, decide what is important, then make a very practical action list.” 

“I have really enjoyed this.  It has been extremely worthwhile and rewarding to uncover some hidden self-limiting beliefs and to start work on eradicating them.  Pink Sky Thinking has reinforced my belief that I am Okay and re-invigorated my passion for my goals.”

“As a busy CEO, having time to think more deeply about future vision was very helpful.  The superb guidance from Una helped structure my thinking in a way I found beneficial”

We then went onto drinks, nibbles & networking, and were able to reinforce our thinking from the session by spontaneously sharing lots of ideas with the group. Energy levels were super high and we enjoyed a very lively evening. All in all an excellent, fun and beneficial event.

Following on from the seminar, we had each completed a postcard that was sent out 2 weeks later as an aide memoire of the commitment we made to ourselves on the day. This really helped us focus on what we had personally identified so that our individual vision is already closer to becoming a tangible reality.