The number of women in C-level, executive jobs is still relatively low in the UK. Just 6 of the FTSE 100 chief executives are women (8 are called Dave), and those male chief executives “earn on average 77% more” than the women on the same board.
It’s all too common to see a complete absence of women on the line-ups for tech panels and conferences. In response, Techworld recently >compiled a list of 435 female startup founders and decision-makers who clearly aren’t being booked often enough.
They’re vastly outnumbered, but that doesn’t mean women in business aren’t doing incredible things. These are some of the most inspirational and innovative female business leaders in Britain.
London-born Karren Brady has a mile-long list of achievements to her name. She’s Vice-Chairperson of West Ham United, has a CBE, and a net worth of £85 million, but she’s perhaps best known for being one of Sir Alan Sugar’s advisors on The Apprentice.
Brady began her career in advertising, but made her money in football. She turned the fortunes of Birmingham City FC around by buying the club for £700,000 in 1993 and floating it on the stock exchange. She eventually sold it for £82 million.
While still at university, Sharmadean Reid founded a hip-hop magazine for girls, but the business that would make her famous began as a simple side project in 2009. WAH Nails is a ‘salon of dreams’, offering innovative nail art which has attracted nearly 500k Instagram subscribers. WAH Nails recently launched the first virtual reality nail designer so customers can try designs before they buy, proving innovation definitely has a place in the beauty industry.
In 2018, Reid started writing a column in the Guardian called Bossing it, which helps young women navigate office politics, enter management roles, and make big career changes with confidence.
Martha Lane Fox
‘Dotcom millionaire’ Martha Lane Fox is the founder of Lastminute.com, Chancellor of the Open University since 2014, and became the second woman to join the board at Twitter in 2016. She is also a supporter of human rights causes, founded a legal action charity, and helped to fund the Women’s Prize for Fiction when Orange withdrew its support.
Lane Fox made the majority of her fortune during the early 2000s by speculating the importance of the internet. When she joined the House of Lords in 2013, her maiden speech focused on the importance of understanding the digital world and what it can bring to the economy.
The founder of ePorta grew up with two business-owning parents, so being entrepreneurial is in Aneeqa Khan’s blood. Before founding her own business, she was a major private equity firm’s youngest staff member, and went on to become the strategy director and head of IPO at Zoopla.
Khan felt that many talented furniture and interior product designers struggled with visibility, so she created ePorta with the backing of her previous employers and other venture capitalists. The brand links interior designers and architects to global designers, making it easier for them to work together.
Former model and stylist Natalie Massenet famously created ecommerce fashion site Net-a-Porter in 2000 when she couldn’t find designer goods easily online. It might sound like a trivial problem, but it’s grown into a £350m company with 2,600 staff.
Since leaving Net-a-Porter, Massanet has been very busy. She became a Dame in 2016, welcomed her first son via a surrogate at the age of 52, and was appointed Chairperson of the British Fashion Council.
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