Women gather for LEP business leaders event

women
Tajinder Banwait

Today the Local Enterprise Partnership Network will host an event to celebrate the contribution to UK industry made by women.

LEP Women Leaders 2019 will see over 160 senior female business leaders and entrepreneurs from the public, private and voluntary sectors assemble at the QEII Centre in London.  The Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership  is committed to supporting women in business, and celebrating the outstanding economic contributions of both its female board members and successful women leaders.

In Leicester and Leicestershire, many businesses are owned or run by women. However, there is more to be done to further address gender imbalances in local industry. The LLEP is committed to pursuing a balanced board of directors, with men and women equally represented, by 2023. Currently the board has three female members – Karen Smart, MD at East Midlands Airport, Emma Anderson, Director at Freeths and Verity Hancock, Principal and CEO of Leicester College.

Emma Anderson’s strong local connections, and the fact that she has spent the vast majority of her career in Leicester and Leicestershire, demonstrate her commitment to the development of the region. She has a deep understanding of the issues that it faces and works hard to alleviate them.

Her input to the LLEP board involves sharing her knowledge and experience of the commercial services and private sector in Leicester and Leicestershire. Her involvement in the cultural sector via her trusteeship of Big Difference Company provides her with a different focus from that of the commercial sector and enables her to appreciate local issues from varying perspectives. Emma said: “I dead the Women in Business initiative in Leicester in order to raise the profile and influence of professional women, which is something that is very important to me. Whilst gender equality has come a long way since I started work there remains some way to go. I believe that gender stereotyping and unconscious bias play a significant role in that and should not be ignored.

“I am fortunate to act for Freeths Solicitors which believes in and promotes equality. Our Women in Business initiative is very business-focussed. It gives people the opportunity to network with peers and address some of the issues facing women in business, such as imposter syndrome, self-confidence and balancing responsibilities.”

One of the key goals of the LLEP is to inspire more women to go into business for themselves. Industrial diversity is a key strength of the local economy in Leicester and Leicestershire; the more female leaders there are, the better. Tajinder Banwait is Founder and Managing Director of Urban Apothecary, a growing business based in the region. She will be speaking at Women Leaders 2019 about her experiences starting a successful company from the ground up.

Tajinder started in the health and beauty industry at the age of 16 while studying to become a paralegal. By 24, she had started her own distribution business and went on to launch Urban Apothecary in 2011 from her kitchen table.

She is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs ’10,000 Small Businesses UK’ entrepreneurial scheme, which helped her draft an ambitious five-year growth plan and embark on a comprehensive brand refresh in 2017. Since then, her business has gone from strength to strength, with products available in over 100 stores and she has launched internationally in over ten countries.

Tajinder said: “I’m passionate about equality and entrepreneurship. There is clearly a way to go to bridge the gap in the boardroom, but there are so many inspirational women out there.

“Some are yet to start a business, others are just starting their journey, some have been on that journey for many years now.

“It doesn’t matter what stage we’re at, we should all build our networks, champion and support other women to ensure that all can fulfil their business potential.”

The LEP Women Leaders 2019 event aims to inspire more women leaders to get involved in the work of Local Enterprise Partnerships in addition to building a strong network for female leaders.