Elevating Success, which offers educational training programmes to local individuals, finished their first enterprise programme in December. Eight out of the ten trainees who made it to the final stage were women. These successful candidates are now embarking upon their first entrepreneurial venture, marking the increasing influence of women in business today. One of them is Maired Gorman.
When the bell sounds, Gorman finishes teaching history at a Croydon secondary school but her day in the classroom is not yet over. The next stop is a local housing development space in West Croydon, where she runs ‘education2excel’, a homework club she has recently set up for local primary school children.
Gorman told EastLondonLines: “I have been teaching for 20 years and I wanted to use my teaching skills to start something of my own. I am currently juggling my work as a supply teacher with getting my homework club of the ground and I hope one day it will grow to something I can dedicate all my time to.”
Research carried out by the Professional Boards Forum found that 14.9 per cent of UK directors at Britain’s 100 largest public companies are women, up from 12.5 per cent in 2010. The increasing numbers of female owned businesses is also reflected on a local level as more and more women are starting entrepreneurial ventures that support their community. Andrew Brown, the director and founder of Elevating Success, said: “There has been a definite increase in the numbers of women going into business. We have found that many of the successful women entrepreneurs in our area know the local people, know what the community needs and have been able to start a business that has been both popular and supportive.”
Elevating Success is part of a growing number of organisations that equips people with skills necessary to start a business, including legal know-how, market research skills, financial management, and client relationship development. Out of the 47 who began the trainee course, 36 were female, which suggests that increasingly, women are seeing starting their own business as a career option.
Maired said: “I went along to the course just out of interest. I had an idea of running a homework club for a while but doing the course showed me how to put my idea into practice. It has really energised me.”
Starting a business has become a more desirable career move for many women, who struggle to fit their jobs around family responsibilities or have found that restrictions at work have prevented them from excelling.
Andrew Brown said: “We have a lot women who have reached a certain point in their careers and have said to themselves, ‘I have had enough of that. I’m doing it myself’ and many do not believe in the possibility of career progression in their jobs.”
Brown also said there have been a lot of mothers who are still looking after their children and need to earn a living that will work around their families. One such example is Sharon McLean, who has been running her own business for ten years and finds being her own boss has made being a dedicated mother to her four children more manageable.
McLean told Eastlondonlines: “If my child has an assembly in the morning I know I can shift things round and make it.”
Before starting ‘Business with excellence’, which offers mentoring and advice to small companies, Sharon had been working for ten years as a financial manager for a bank, where she worked from 9-5 and then often had appointments afterwards. “My previous job was often really long hours and spending time with my children was not always easy. Childcare is also really expensive so I wanted a job I had more control over so after my second child I decided to start something new.”
Andrew is now running his second, smaller business start-up course where nine out of the ten people are women. “The people who have come to us are really exciting and full of ideas and I’m enjoying running the course for a second time.”
Recent research from the Institute of Leadership and Management has shown that as pay cuts and job losses continue, many women have found that the glass ceiling has become harder to break. Out of nearly 3,000 managers questioned, 73% of women agreed that many female workers still faced barriers in the workplace whereas only 38% of males felt this was the case for men.