Women Leaders 2019

6th June 2019, 10.30am-4pm, QEII Centre, London

On 6th June 2019, over 160 senior women business leaders and entrepreneurs from the private, public, education and third sectors will be gathering in London. This by-invitation event is aiming to inspire more women leaders to get involved in the work of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

The event will include a variety of dynamic speakers, panel discussions and Q&A sessions.  Please check back to this page as we update it with details of speakers, participants and the full event programme.


In July 2018 the Government published Strengthened Local Enterprise Partnerships, setting out the role and responsibilities of Local Enterprise Partnerships in driving local growth and productivity. As part of that review, government said 1/3 of every LEP Board will be women by 2020, and 1/2 of every LEP Board by 2023. Many LEPs have already met or exceeded this, whilst others are working on action plans to improve gender diversity on their boards.

The LEP Network is hosting the event to help LEPs achieve the LEP Review ambition of diversity by first bringing together a large group of women leaders - some of whom are successfully engaged in improving gender diversity within their organisations, and others who are leaders in their field and interested in working closer with LEPs as they shape their Local Industrial Strategy. This LEP Network event will:

  • showcase existing women in leadership positions and the challenges and barriers they face;
  • inspire women leaders to get involved with LEPs;
  • promote the impact that LEPs have had.

This event is by invitation only but there will be a limited number of tickets available to purchase.  Please email for more information.  Please email if you are interested in sponsoring, advertising or exhibiting.


Click here for more information.  Click here to download the Building Small Business Britain report.


Speakers and panellists

We are delighted to announce the first of our confirmed speakers.  Click here to read their biographies.


Leader Views


Christine Gaskell CBE DL, Chair of Cheshire & Warrington LEP, explains why we need many more women in our boardrooms.  On 25th September 2018 she brought together, for the first time, women LEP board members from around the country to meet with women business leaders and Government officials to find ways in which we can encourage more women to join LEP boards. And, of course, that is the purpose of our event on 6th June.

According to the World Economic Forum, during the last decade the proportion of women leaders increased by an average of a little more than 2% across the 12 industries it studied. "Along with my LEP Network colleagues, I passionately believe in equality and diversity of opportunity to develop skills and capabilities to create a pipeline of future leaders, regardless of gender. There is lots of evidence that points to a correlation between diversity and success. I am under no illusion that we can tip the scales overnight, but over time I’m confident we will achieve parity."  Read more...


Why more women should consider applying for LEP board positions.
Sara Uzzell became a private sector board member for Dorset LEP in July 2016. She speaks about the benefits of non-executive positions and calls for more women to consider applying for LEP board positions.  Read more...


Without greater female representation on boards, we are losing out.
Dr Philippa Roles is a non-executive director of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and a Partner at Field Seymour Parkes LLP. Women leaders not only provide an important source of talent but also a critically different perspective.  Read more...


What it's like to be a LEP Chair.
Dr Ann Limb CBE DL, outgoing Chair of South East Midlands LEP, talks about the opportunities and benefits of being a LEP Chair.  Watch...  

Ann also speaks out for strengthening women in leadership positions and on LEP boards in particular. Read more...


Julie Kapsalis, board member at Coast to Capital LEP, shares her insights on diversity and leadership and in particular what inspired her to become a LEP board member.  "Our region is diverse – so I believe that Coast to Capital must reflect and celebrate this diversity – from the make-up of our Board and staff to our values and the way we engage with businesses and stakeholders. Diversity fosters growth and innovation and is integral to the delivery of our strategy."  Read more...


Not enough women are putting themselves forward for non-executive positions
Anja Skvortsova is Associate Director of Audeliss and has over 13 years’ international experience in executive talent acquisition. Anja describes the underlying reasons why not enough women are applying to be LEP board members and suggests some solutions.  Read more...


Martino Burgess, Associate Director, Head of Corporate SME at Gregg Latchams and board member at West of England LEP, says: “One of the key things I get out of being on the LEP Board is a real insight into government policy nationally and how it fits into our region’s economy. It’s extremely important to have a mix of senior leadership experience and viewpoints on the LEP Board. We’re a vast region with lots of different communities and it’s good that all those communities are represented.”

News and opinions


The WBC was set up by now Prime Minister Theresa May in 2012, and produced its first report a year later structured around five key themes: (1) raising girls’ aspirations to consider careers in STEM roles; (2) improving the talent pipeline from the classroom to the boardroom; (3) opening up opportunities for older working women; (4) increasing the number of female entrepreneurs; and (5) engaging more male business leaders. WBC has produced a number of reports since 2013 - the latest report was published in November 2018.  It sets out the progress made over the past 5 years, in business and across society. Compared to 2013, there are now more women in employment; more women studying and entering typically higher paid STEM jobs; more women progressing to senior management positions, more women leading SMEs and more women in their 50s in work. 



Landmark review sparks action to boost number of female entrepreneurs
Plans to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in Britain by 50% were set out on International Women’s Day (Friday 8th March 2019), after research found women face too many barriers to setting up a business. The independent review – commissioned by the Treasury and headed up by Alison Rose, Deputy CEO of NatWest – identifies these barriers and makes recommendations on what can be done to overcome them. Read more…






Improving gender balance in FTSE leadership
The Hampton-Alexander Review is an independent review body which builds on the excellent work of the Davies Review to increase the number of women on FTSE 350 boards. We are committed to achieving the 33% target for women on boards and in leadership teams of FTSE 350 companies by 2020. The goal and inherent benefits for British business are within reach. However, success requires robust action from all stakeholders and every FTSE 350 company to play their part.  Read more...

The 30% Club campaign was set up by Dame Helena Morrissey in 2010 with the aim of achieving a minimum of 30% female representation on FTSE 100 boards.  The 30% Club believes that companies with a good balance of men and women in senior roles have better insights into their customers and market opportunities, make better decisions, and perform better financially. Read more...

International Women's Day, 8th March 2019
Right now is a great and important time in history to do everything possible to help forge a more gender-balanced world. Women have come a long way, yet there's still more to be achieved. Read more...  And click here to see how we marked this special day.


Companies told women must make up third of senior directors by 2020
Dozens of firms have been told to put more women in their boardrooms. The Investment Association, a financial sector trade body, and the government-backed Hampton-Alexander review have written to 69 companies, calling on them to have 33% of their boards made up of women by 2020. They said it was "unacceptable" that one in five of the UK's biggest companies in the FTSE 350 index are falling short on gender diversity. Of the firms singled out, 66 have only one woman on their board, while three firms have an all-male board.  Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of The Investment Association said "Companies must do more than take the tokenistic step of appointing just one woman to their board and consider that job done.  Sir Philip Hampton, who chairs the review, said the fact that companies had failed to bring women into board rooms and into leadership positions "does not reflect the population of very talented women capable of making great contributions in boardrooms".    Read more...


Are women sabotaging their own business by not dealing with their fear of public speaking? (Written by Aly Harrold for Elite Business magazine)

Women are increasingly stepping into the limelight – in the boardroom and in front of cameras. While many are finding their voices, sharing their opinions and shaping conversations about the world around us, some women find it hard to make themselves heard. At a time when the art of self-promotion is growing in importance and ways to broadcast our messages through social media stories are constantly evolving, more and more entrepreneurs are embracing these opportunities and benefiting from the results. But what do you do if the very thought of a live video or speaking in front of an audience is simply too terrifying? Read more…

We are delighted to have Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses as our partner for this event.  For more information about the 10,000 Small Businesses programme click here or email.


We have a range of sponsorship opportunities for organisations which are active in the gender parity, diversity and inclusion landscape and would be happy to discuss bespoke packages.  Please get in touch to see how you can align your CSR with our event - we would welcome the opportunity to discuss how you can raise your profile with this distinguished group of guests.


Click here for more information and to register your interest to attend.


If you think you have what it takes to lead and shape the economic growth ambitions of your local area, click here to find out more about current vacancies on LEP Boards.


Follow us on twitter and use the hashtag to join the conversation.


Cumbria LEP has just recruited three of the county's top women business leaders to help drive economic growth and productivity across Cumbria. 


A big welcome to Lindsey Rix who has just been appointed Deputy Chair of the New Anglia LEP Board. 


Greater Lincolnshire LEP boosted its board with four new recruits in January, two of them local women buisness leaders - Sarah Louise Fairburn and Nick Worboys.


Five new board members announced for the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, significantly boosting its representation from the business community, three of whom are women business leaders.  Read more...


Digital entrepreneur Zoe Easey has been co-opted onto the board of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP for a year to help steer the LEP’s digital strategy.  Read more...


Worcestershire LEP welcomes two new women business leaders to its board - Sue Jordan and Nicola Whiting.  Read more...


LEP Chairs Christine Gaskell CBE DL and Dr Ann Limb CBE DL met with the Prime Minister at the PM Council of LEP Chairs in June 2018 and January 2019.


The Women of the Future Awards, founded by Pinky Lilani CBE DL in 2006, were conceived to provide a platform for the pipeline of female talent in the UK. Through the Women of the Future Programme we have built a remarkable, informal community of influential women determined not only to build fruitful professional and personal relationships with one another, but to be advocates for an exciting new generation of business talent.  Nominations for 2019 will open in June.  Click here for more information.


When was the last time you or your organisation took a chance on someone?
The conversations around the future of inclusivity and diversity are happening now, but I think it is up to us to encourage movement, action and impact. Simone Roche MBE, CEO & Founder of Northern Power Women explores why now is the time to take a chance on someone new and for your organisation to embrace mentoring, support and encouragement.    Read more...


For every £1 of venture capital investment, less than 1p goes to all-women led teams, a new report finds. The research, commissioned by government, will inform ongoing work to tackle this issue and boost the economy. The UK VC & Female Founders report found that for every £1 of venture capital (VC) investment in the UK, all-women founder teams get less than 1p. By comparison, all-male founder teams get 89p and mixed-gender teams get the remaining 10p.


7th November 2019.  The summit will bring together the innovators of today and tomorrow to explore the evolving values relevant to the next generation of leaders. We aim to inspire and energise the leaders of tomorrow and create a supportive global forum for them. Our mission is to discuss the key issues faced today and to consider how progress can be made. We will do this through the lens of a new generation of leaders, exploring how the shifts in culture and leadership style reflect global challenges in a different light, creating new ideas and opportunities.  Read more...


Men as Change Agents
The Women’s Business Council has highlighted that too often and for too long, gender equality has been the business of women. The Women’s Business Council is committed to increasing the number of male leaders as change agents, by building and showcasing a critical mass of supportive male CEOs who can drive real change as trailblazer organisations improving outcomes for girls and women accessing, progressing and remaining in industry. Read more...


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