Mentors matter

Charlene


UN Women Global Champion and UK ambassador for the global movement ‘Empower Women’, Charlene Laidley’s mother told her aged 14 “stop thinking above your station”.

I have always been unbound by the limitations imposed on me by others and by the circumstances around me. I was called a ‘dreamer’ when at 14, I told my single mother who was working three jobs to support me and my younger brothers, that one day I was going to go to New York and work in the luxury fashion industry – she laughed and told me to stop thinking “above my station”. Herself being the daughter of Caribbean immigrants, and watching her own mother struggle to survive in the UK, it was outside the realm of what she thought was possible.

With the help and support of my school teacher Mrs Webb, who I now know to be my first mentor, I applied for a scholarship to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and through hard work and determination I succeeded. Four years later, after instrumental roles with Burberry and Clarins, I became the first woman of colour to join the senior leadership team of LVMH Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy – the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate.

In 2007 I became an entrepreneur, and at age 26 signed The Mayor of London, Ken Livingston as my first client. After he left office in 2008, spotting a gap in the watch and jewelry market, I launched my current business; Latiénne the world’s first exclusive watch and jewelry communications consultancy. Over the last 8 years we have represented a number of world’s leading organizations; including Unilever, P&G Braun, Porsche Design, Hatton Garden, Girard-Perregaux, Eterna and Vivienne Westwood.

My experiences made me realise that whilst we cannot determine where we start in life, we can determine where we end up.

I strongly believe mentors matter and that women role-models from diverse backgrounds matter. That’s why I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life to the economic empowerment of women in the UK. By making time to go out into the community; working with schools and young people, by providing mentoring, sponsorship and training – I share with them my experiences and the lessons I have learned with the aim of helping them believe that they have what it takes to become a leader in whatever field they choose. I am living proof that it is possible to overcome hardship and the challenges of society to excel and succeed.

In November 2015, I became an appointed UN Women Global Champion and UK ambassador for the global movement Empower Women. The mission of Empower Women is to empower women to achieve their full economic potential by inspiring both women and men to become advocates, change makers and leaders in their community. Together I believe we can bring hope and inspiration to empower girls and young women from all parts of society, to become the World’s future leaders.

Visit: https://www.empowerwomen.org

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Help us to #RedrawThe Balance

A new film reveals the reality of gender stereotyping amongst primary school children. When asked to draw a firefighter, surgeon and a fighter pilot, 61 pictures were drawn of men and only 5 were female. Please could you help raise awareness of this deep-seated issue by forwarding the film to friends and colleagues. Share on social media using ‪#‎RedrawTheBalance‬ or retweeting our tweet @Edu_employers and @PrimaryFutures

Join us and pledge an hour to speak informally with children about your job at a local state school. Sign up now at http://www.inspiringthefuture.org

Yang Lan to be a patron of the Inspiring Women Campaign in China

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One of China’s most successful businesswomen, Yang Lan, has agreed to become the Chinese patron of the newly launched Inspiring Women China initiative.

Yang Lan is a self-made entrepreneur and is highly influential within the Chinese media. As chair of the Sun Media Group and the Sun Culture Foundation, Ms Yang started her journalism career by establishing China’s longest-running in-depth talk show, Yang Lan One on One, in which she has interviewed more than 800 leading figures all around the world. The show’s weekly average viewership is around 15 to 20 million people.

In 2005, she created Her Village, a TV talk show targeting a Chinese female audience. The show has since developed into a multimedia community intended to empower women. Her Village brings together China’s largest community of professional women – more than 200 million people.

Ms Yang is also leading a movement to encourage the growth of philanthropy: she founded the Sun Culture Foundation in 2005 to raise awareness of poverty and to promote cross-cultural communication. She also organised a meeting in Beijing and that brought together Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to discuss philanthropy with 30 of China’s billionaire families.

This announcement will be made at a reception in Beijing hosted by the British Council to mark International Women’s Day, which will bring together senior representatives from education, culture, sport and philanthropy sectors.

Watch the video of Yang Lan talking about the Inspiring Women campaign in China

Visit British Council web page: http://www.britishcouncil.cn/en/inspiring-women-china

International Women’s Day 2016

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Blog by Miriam González Durántez, Partner at law firm Dechert and Inspiring Women Campaign Champion

Tuesday 8th March marks International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements and contribution of women – but also a day for the debate and reflection. A lot of progress has been made, but parity is still far from being achieved. The World Economic Forum has predicted that it would take us until 2095 to achieve global gender parity, and that the real gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133! Even if we are patient, none of us reading this blog will live long enough to see this! Women and men today have a duty towards the next generations.

That’s why International Women’s Day remains so important, to remind everyone – both men and women – that genuine parity requires action. Action in every single sector and, surely, action in business. Inspiring Women will be debating with the CBI about how business can bring more diversity and help eradicate gender stereotypes. With concrete actions, not just with words.

The huge wealth of untapped female talent makes this a very real issue for business. Women make up half of the population, yet just five chief executives in the FTSE 100 are female – the same number as five years ago. Women and men are 50/50 at the entry level but women drop drastically at the middle management positions. Irrespective of progress elsewhere, and regardless of the sector, business can and should do better.

For this International Women’s Day, I’ll be joined by Jacqui Ferguson, from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Neil Carberry, from the CBI, and our moderator, Sue Cameron, from The Telegraph to take questions from schoolgirls at Morpeth School and Central Foundation Girls School, the business sector, and from the public on twitter about how business can improve its diversity and encourage the next generation of female business leaders.

The Inspiring Women Campaign shows girls that there is no limit to what they can become. Businesses of all shapes and sizes should follow the same approach – by bringing together women at different levels of their careers and by senior business women speaking up. They all need to become visible and speak up so that young women have a credible reference point.

I’ve had the luck of working with the CBI – an organisation I respect and admire – many times before, and as a leading business voice, it’s fantastic that they have made this topic a part of their Great Business Debate. Diversity simply has to be on the agenda when it comes to building public confidence in business. It’s about making sure that businesses understand and meet the needs of the people and the communities they serve, especially, in such a diverse country as the UK.

It’s a debate, so we really want to hear your questions. If you want to ask either myself or any of the other panelists a question then you can tweet the Great Business Debate (@bizdebate) using the hashtag #bizdebate

Follow us at Inspiring Women on @Edu_Employers