Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, I was surrounded by women who ran their own businesses. For me, it was completely normal to think about how I was going to earn my own money and build something, rather than being employed.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 25 and I’ve never pitched to a woman for money. Last year, only 2.17% of venture capital investment went to female-led businesses. Only a tenth of all capital invested globally is in a business led by a woman.
In light of the recent onslaught of stories about inappropriate sexual conduct, we’re more aware than ever that working women, in all professions, face distinct challenges.
When it comes to business, women don’t always have access to the same networks; we have fewer senior role models to inspire us; and can lack confidence.
So much of business is about what you know, what you see and what you read. I feel like we have a 100% responsibility to talk about this – and indeed not just talk, but put our money where our mouths are.
When I announced the planned opening of the UK’s first members’ club for working women, The AllBright, with my co-founder Anna Jones, we received a surge of membership applications from women of all ages and career stages – and the sign-ups just keep coming.
This is a trend that has landed from the other side of the Atlantic, and is starting to grow. It began with the opening of the ‘Wing’ in New York by former presidential campaigner for Hilary Clinton, Audrey Gelman, and now women-only working and networking spaces for female founders and executives are starting to appear in London.
Our objective is to put women front and centre of the conversation. None of what we’re doing is anti-men. We have men on our advisory board and male investors. Many of the businesses that we’re talking to have male co-founders, too. This is simply about levelling the playing field. It is about creating an ecosystem where the UK becomes the best place in the world to be a female leader. And sometimes women need to be separate to turbo charge their progress.