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Creating Positive Footprints....

Pink Shoe Winter Soiree

To round off an inspiring and highly successful year, in December we held our final extravaganza of 2015 with a wonderful Winter Soirée. 

Hosted by Helene Martin Gee and Jill Pay at the House of Commons, more than 70 guests enjoyed the usual magnificent buffet which was accompanied by prosecco and Kentish apple juice.

We were especially delighted that a large group of members and friends from the North West were able to join us, led by the fabulous Úna McBride.

Everywoman Awards at the Dorchester

Women in Public Life Seminar

As Parliament Week partners with this year's theme of #DoDemocracy and as part of the Pink Shoe BoardAble programme we held an event to encourage, inform and support women into public life. 

'Your Nation Needs You! enabled women considering a public appointment to find out what is really involved and how to go about taking those first steps into public life.

Rosalyn Eales of the Cabinet Office gave delegates a real insight into the wide variety of public roles available and stressed that age is no barrier - both young and more mature candidates are welcome. Also that we should consider what transferable skills we have that could be applied in a public appointment.

Delegates then shared some of their own expectations before we heard from Sarah Anderson CBE, a successful entrepreneur who has worked with a variety of public bodies including Job Centre Plus and the Equalities & Human Rights Commission as well as chairing the Anderson Report into business regulation. 

Sarah was able to offer the inside track of how an Appointments Panel works and what is actually involved in the process. Sarah's strong sense of satisfaction from making a tangible difference  inspired us all.

Pink Shoe Hullabaloo!

For Global Entrepreneurship Week event we hosted a powerful event on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. Pink Shoe Hullabaloo! The round table explored how the UK’s entrepreneurs #MakeItHappen, and looked into the reasons behind the success of the UK’s entrepreneurs, and how they can be used to inspire the country’s future businessmen and women.

Joining the many successful entrepreneurs and leaders of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were Alan Mak MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Entrepreneurship, and Craig Tracey MP, Chair of the APPG for Women and Enterprise. The MPs outlined their goals in relation to their APPGs, and underlined their commitment to supporting female entrepreneurs and to inspiring and encouraging more women and young people to start their own businesses.

Helene Martin Gee welcomed our host Baroness Uddin then introduced Sue Lawton MBE who chaired the proceedings with her usual finesse. Firstly, the founders of Clever Tykes, Jodie and Ben Cook outlined the catalyst for their brilliant series of books aimed at providing young children with positive role models from the world of business.

Alex Mitchell of Young Brits then spoke of the importance of growing young businesses, followed by a passionate Jacqueline Winstanley on encouraging Inclusive Entrepreneurship. Finally, Ishreen Bradley outlined her top tips on growing a successful business.

As the round table discussion continued, it was clear that the speakers had come with great passion, and many important issues were raised. Points debated included the recently-discovered fact that new entrepreneurs are more likely to have had an entrepreneurial parent than not, and that the 1.5 million female entrepreneurs constitute one-third of the self-employed workforce. With a fantastic 200 million women starting up businesses worldwide, how can we look to improve that number; is it due to the inherent risk that people associate with start-ups, or it is related to the career paths and options that are presented to young women at school and university?

To provide some insight into the school question, we were joined by students and teachers from Woodside High School who spoke about their interest in a future as entrepreneurs. With the subject of entrepreneurship making it to the leaders’ communiqué at the most recent G20 conference for the first time, it is clear that much has been achieved in advancing the subject in the political agenda. As women have started eighty per cent of the UK’s post-recession new businesses, it is only right that we can now start to look at this success and discuss how to take it to the next generation.

After the roundtable we enjoyed drinks and networking and gave a toast to Lorely, the newly enobled Baroness Burt of Solihull.

#FQ2 at The Shard

#FQ2 at the Shard was hugely successful! 

Sincere thanks to our sponsors Addidi for generously supporting the event, to our hosts Warwick Business School and Enterprise Research Centre, and to Marketing Nest and The Sourcing Team for the goodie bags.

After a warm welcome from Professor Stephen Roper on behalf of  WBS and ERC, we were inspired by Alan Mak MP who is not only a strong advocate for female enterprise he also stressed the importance of STEM subjects.

After an introduction from Pink Shoe Founder Helene Martin Gee delegates heard from the ERC's Mark Hart with fascinating facts and figures on women's entrepreneurship in the UK. 

Jill Pay, chairman of the Pink Shoe Senate then outlined the work of the Economic Blueprint and how vital this is to encourage and support more UK women to establish and grow their businesses.

We were honoured to be joined by our US Partners WIPP International with a powerful keynote from President Jennifer Bisceglie, herself a successful business owner.

Lively and informative presentations followed from two of the workstreams. The Access to Markets team of Maggie Berry, Ishreen Bradley and Marianne Schoenig shared with us their work on supporting procurement initiatives and the creation of a business hub so that women can cluster to win more contracts.  We then heard from Anna Sofat, founder of Addidi and a passionate advocate of women investing in women.

The prestigious panel of Sarah Anderson CBE, Derek Browne, Dinah Bennett OBE and Julia Elliott Brown, was chaired by Jennifer Bisceglie and moderated by Sue Lawton MBE. Closing remarks from Baroness Burt of Solihull brilliantly captured the upbeat mood of the day.

During the Champagne afternoon tea we were delighted to be joined by Business Minister Anna Soubry, who said: “In the 21st century, women-led businesses should get a fairer share of the market. That is why I welcome the development of the UK Economic Blueprint and the work of the Pink Shoe Foundation to give talented women a strong, influential voice.”

UK Economic Blueprint for Women

Pink Shoe aims to become the definitive hub for the UK’s female entrepreneurs and to contribute to the achievement of the following goals for Women-owned Businesses (WBs) in the UK. 

Our vision is that by the end of 2020:

1.         The percentage of WBs will increase to 30% (from 18% in 2015)

2.         Gross value-added revenues generated by WBs will increase by 30% and the number of new jobs created in WBs will increase by 30%

3.         Sustainability of WBs established 5 years will be measured and increased by 30%

4.         The value of exports by WBs will increase by 30%

5.         An index of the corporate and government spend with WBs, will be created, tracked and published -  working towards a target of 5% (from 1% in 2015)

6.         An index to measure mentoring for WBs will be created

7.         PSF will have built 80 collaborative partnerships in the UK

8.         A definitive ‘Go To’ online resource portal for UK based WBs will be created

9.         A marketplace will be developed to enable WBs to cluster in order to win contracts

10.      The number of women angel investors will increase to 30% (15% in 2015)


Autumn Soiree

Our autumn soiree was held in support of Save the Children, by Kind Permission of The Lord Speaker at the wonderful River Room of the House of Lords. 

Baroness Uddin hosted the reception and once the many distinguished guests had arrived in the River Room, Lady Uddin held the floor telling us why this cause is of personal importance to her. Drawing from her own experiences of working with the charity during the Bangladesh earthquake and highlighting the many examples of good practice to which the charity adheres.

Canapés were bestowed by the ace team of Sacha, Davaa and Tamila (left) and pink champagne was enjoyed.

Then Helene, who not only founded Pink Shoe but has been a long-serving committee member of Save the Children, spoke about the hardship many children around the world face on a daily basis, and how the much-needed support from Save the Children makes such a positive impact on these childrens’ lives.

The evening ended with more pink fizz, chocolates and delicious pudding canapés.

Audrey Hepburn Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

This wonderful exhibition spanning the life of the iconic Audrey Hepburn was a true delight. 

Some of the images were very familiar, along with lesser known early photographs and some never before seen in public.

We then sampled lunch in the restaurant, with great food accompanied by fabulous views across the London rooftops to the Palace of Westminster.


Pink Shoes on the Terrace

For our second summer lunch we were lucky enough to be on the Terrace again, to which we were welcomed by Davina with glasses of proscecco in the glorious sunshine.

Ambassadors and guests were then able to enjoy poached salmon with a variety of super salads, all created especially for us by chef John. Conversation flowed and guests lingered in the excellent company. Another very special Pink Shoe event!

Ambassadors' Summer Luncheon

In convivial company Pink Shoe Ambassadors enjoyed the food and atmosphere for our formal summer luncheon. 

Huge thanks to the Terrace Pavilion team for a stupendous buffet and top notch service. 


Pink Shoe Ambassadors gathered at Parliament Street for our final Aperitivo of the season.

As ever it was a lively evening with an especially warm welcome for new Ambassador Mina Rahman.

Chelsea Physic Garden

To raise funds for Save the Children,the Kensington Commitee organised a fascinating tour and lunch at the Chelsea Physic Garden.


Pink Shoes at Henley Royal Regatta

Such a lovely day at this quintessentially English event. The weather was kind and it was great to see some excellent rowing, we were very glad to discover the badges that day in the Stewards' enclosure were pink!

Here is our very own Sheila enjoying the afternoon and for once she's not on duty!

Pink Shoe LiberTea

To our delight we had the chance to hold a LiberTea in commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta on Monday the 15th of June- the only LiberTea celebration that was held in Westminster on the anniversary of this momentous event. 

We all wrote what we were thankful for or inspired by and created our own Pink Shoe thought board! 

We heard from Parliamentary Archivist Kirsty Fife on the century long battle for female suffrage in the UK. We learnt that by the time the ‘Representation of the People Act’ was passed in 1918 parliament had received no fewer than 1600 petitions on this subject containing the signatures of some 3 million women. We were also intrigued to find out that 4 of the 63 clauses of the Magna Carta written on the 15th of June 1215 are still in fact law today.

We also had the pleasure of hearing from Parliamentary Curator Melanie Unwin on the stages involved in designing a wonderful piece of artwork to commemorate the fight of our grandmothers and great-grandmother’s for female suffrage in the UK. 

The artwork will be revealed in early 2016 and will sit in Westminster itself. We are very much looking forward to seeing this at the big unveiling! (See the sneak preview to the right)

Hong Tan concluded the addresses with a short discussion on the ‘Likeness of Justice’ art exhibition which will focus on contemporary issues of justice. The project aims to develop images for individuals, institutions and bodies concerned about the justice system.

Then we all enjoyed tea and scones hosted by Baroness Jenkin of Kennington in the Peers' Dining Room. Pink Shoe would like to thank Lady Jenkin and each of our wonderful speakers, as well as everyone involved for making the day such a great success.


We were delighted to support a stunning event at the House of Lords, when Alex Mitchell of the Young Brits Network brought together The European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs, StartUp Europe and The European Youth Forum with the support of the IoD and his own company Causarma.

Graciously hosted by The Earl of Erroll, the debate focused on the key issue of youth entrepreneurship and was organised in collaboration with The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Entrepreneurship.

Lord Erroll and Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna played leading roles, speaking passionately about the importance of entrepreneurship and how to design a financial eco-system that would enable businesses to thrive. Their speeches captured everyone’s attention- so much so by the time the event started it was standing room only!

Successful young entrepreneurs came from the UK, the EU and much further afield. Guests shared their stories and business strategies. We even had flags to represent the many diverse countries represented by the young entrepreneurs.

At the end everyone enjoyed a question and answer session, before sharing nibbles and wine along with plenty of international networking.

Huge thanks to everyone involved for organising such a successful event. 

State Opening of Parliament

Its become a tradition for Pink Shoe Ambassadors to attend the State Opening of Parliament and 2015 was another memorable event. Resplendent in gorgeous hats and summer finery members gathered to watch the arrival of HM The Queen and the royal procession.

After the Queen's speech and procession back to the Palace we adjourned to the House of Commons dining room for the special State Opening luncheon. 

We were then able to hear opening debate on the Queen's speech in the House of Commons chamber from both the Prime Minister and the Leader of HM Opposition.

Afternoon Tea for International Planned Parenthood Federation

Pink Shoe Ambassadors joined other guests at the Attlee Room for an Afternoon Tea in support of International Planned Parenthood Federation. 

This global charity works in most countries to support the choices of women over birth control, to improve reproductive health and to fight and educate to end FGM.

Baroness Tong hosted the event and welcomed us with a powerful speech on the importance of IPPF - reminding the audience that not so long ago women in the UK didn't have access to birth control. 

The IPPF Director then related some of the excellent work the charity does around the world before co-host Saira Khan spoke with genuine passion about her own mother's experiences and why the work of IPPF is so vital. 

Saira is setting up an Executive Committee for IPPF and our founder Helene is helping with this. Many of the ambassadors and guests offered to help the charity with fund raising activities or other practical assistance.

Election Reflection

Exactly one week on from an extraordinary General Election we held a high level roundtable to discuss and assess the results, especially in relation to entrepreneurship and women in business.

After introductions from Helene Martin Gee we received a warm welcome from Lord Taylor. John commented on the progress being made in Parliament where we now have 30% women MPs. As Lord Taylor said, great progress but we still have a way to go. 

We then gained first hand experience of what it means to fight an Election as we heard from the truly inspirational Mina Rahman. Mina was PPC in Barking - her first time fighting an Election and thus in an unwinnable seat for the Tories. Mina however fought a good campaign with much support and is determined to stand again in five years time.

Jill Pay then shared with us what happens behind-the-scenes when new MPs enter Westminster for the first time. 

She unveiled some of the historic customs and how these are relayed to the new intake. There is a lot to digest along with getting to grips with the new role.

For the second part of the event we focused on the economy and the impact on business. 

First hearing from Sarah Fink, head of research for the Centre for Entrepreneurs on how women are seeking Government policy that specifically addresses some of the issues they face when running their own business.

This was followed by an excellent presentation from Shaun Richards, leading economist and blogger (notayesmaneconomics.wordpress.com).

After the roundtable we enjoyed refreshments and networking.

Global Women of Influence

For the first time outside Canada and in their 20th Anniversary year Global Women of Influence held a dinner in London sponsored by Thomson Reuters and Bank of Canada. 

At Soho's  Groucho Club a hand picked group of female leaders met to discuss and share their experiences as women at the top. 

Pink Shoe founder Helene Martin Gee along with Ambassador and Addidi founder Anna Sofat were delighted to be invited as guests of Jan Frolic.