Posted on:
10th June, 2019

LEP Women Leaders 2019 - "a great event"

The LEP Women Leaders 2019 event held in London on 6 June has been praised as a success by the women leaders who attended and inspired other women to get involved and join their LEP boards.

Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Women and Equalities, The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt, said

“You are an exceptional group of women leaders gathering to inspire and support your LEPs to be the best they can and meet your target of ensuring 50% of LEP boards are women by 2023….LEPs are making real progress and I hope more women leaders will be inspired to get involved in the work of their LEP.”

Christine Gaskell CBE, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, and the first woman on the board of Bentley Motors, opened the event with a clear message:

“Today we aim to shine a spotlight on women leaders, celebrate their achievements, and inspire more women to get involved with LEP boards.”

Mission accomplished!

The event focussed on three deep dive panel discussions which looked at some of the challenges facing LEPs.

Suggestions and messages from the panel discussions which have proved useful to LEPs and businesses looking to engage with more women leaders include:

 Panel 1 - ‘Inspiring future generations of women to become leaders’

  • Take a fresh look at how cultural practices within organisations operate and how they may impact on women in the workforce. Eg: when and where meetings are held, who sits on interview panels and do they need to be senior executives?
  • Workplaces should be more flexible and recognise the caring responsibilities of women and men of all ages.
  • Part-time workers can be powerful and have a lot to offer.
  • More opportunities for distance learning can help young women looking to enhance their leadership skills whilst working.

Panel 2 - ‘Enhancing gender diversity on LEP Boards’ panel

  • LEPs need to raise their visibility with potential board members via networking and stakeholder events, and establishing LEP champions with new and existing networks.
  • Be prepared to do things differently. E.g. how board recruitment takes place and where board posts are advertised.
  • Make LEP meetings accessible to people with disabilities in terms of venue and content.
  • Young people can enhance the make-up of LEP boards, and bringing junior staff members to leadership meetings to give them an opportunity to see how decision making takes place is a good start.
  • Recognise that unpaid Board roles can limit the involvement of entrepreneurs and business people from SMEs.

Panel 3 - ‘LEPs making a difference’.  What should LEPs do more of?

  • Raise the profile of LEPs as they deliver their local industrial strategies.
  • Invest in infrastructure to help reduce inequality in terms of access to jobs and services.
  • Improve diversity on boards to include skills sets and representation of different sizes of business.
  • Be more joined up with education partners on skills for the future and post BREXIT.
  • Work with business partners to promote inclusive growth.

If you are interested in joining your local LEP either as a board member or a committee member, please contact for more information or visit our website here to see LEP Board vacancies.