‘What International Women’s Day means to us’

Wednesday was International Women’s Day and here, a number of women in business from across Liverpool city region talk about what the day means to them…

Maggie O'Carroll
Professor Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation


Professor Maggie O’Carroll, CEO, The Women’s Organisation

While it is true that more women than ever are starting their own companies (more than 150,000 female-led ventures were established last year alone), only one in three entrepreneurs are female and their underrepresentation equates to huge loss to the UK economy.

International Women’s Day is, of course, an opportunity to celebrate the diverse achievements of women, but this year’s theme should also act as a stark reminder of how much further we need to go until we can truly ‘embrace equity’.

Decades of underinvestment in women’s economic development have resulted in an ocean of disparity between men and women’s access to opportunity, and now considerable investment is required to reduce the myriad barriers that women face.

On average, women earn £250,000 less than men in their lifetimes; are underrepresented at executive level in almost all major corporations in the UK; and receive less than 1% of all venture capital investment.

Celebrate progress and recognise achievement, but we must also think honestly about how we build a better, more accessible, more equitable future – for women in business, and in every space in society.

Leading Ladies in Business
Clare Bowers, left, and Carolyn Whitehead, founders of Leading Ladies in Business


Clare Bowers and Carolyn Whitehead, founders of Leading Ladies in Business

International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the global achievements of women.

It’s a day to come together as a community to lift others, to champion them and to push forward as a collective to ensure equality is not just a word we pay lip service to, but one that continues to be at the forefront of every agenda, in every workplace, in every political arena, in all policy and practice.

Leading Ladies in Business supports and empowers women in business to build successful and profitable businesses, pushing the boundaries of possibility.

It encourages them to take measured and calculated risk and providing visibility and increased confidence through networking for women to come together and celebrate their achievements.

This IWD we will be reflecting on all of the incredible women who have championed change and pushed the boundaries for us all over the year, and to celebrate the women we are surrounded by who inspire us every day.


Dr Natalie Kenny
Dr Natalie Kenny, founder of BioGrad in Liverpool


Dr Natalie Kenny, chief executive, BioGrad

The last 12 months have been groundbreaking for BioGrad, not only in terms of new ventures and company growth, but also in no small part due to work that we have done to be an employer and a company of choice for females and female led businesses and organisations.

Opening the second largest Biobank in the UK, we will give all parents the chance to preserve their stem cells within the North West and the provision of non-invasive, prenatal testing and pregnancy testing, something which can be a real catalyst for female well-being for decades to come.

Employing a diverse workforce, wherever I look at BioGrad I see strong female role models, whether that be in our senior leadership team, our labs or in the classroom – we really are leading the way in innovation and inclusivity in the science and healthcare sector.

I am now looking forward to officially opening a new hub for the local community and a space for city region-based, female-led science and tech SMEs later this year and will continue to do all I can to support women throughout the North West and beyond.


Geraldine Fuller
Geraldine Fuller, business engagement and marketing manager at Business & IP Centre Liverpool


Geraldine Fuller, business engagement and marketing manager, Business & IP Centre Liverpool

Over the last 25 years I have been privileged to have worked with so many inspiring females who have made huge contributions to our city region.

International Women’s Day is a time to remember and celebrate all those women who defy norms, challenge the status quo and help shape and create opportunities to make the world fairer and better.

According to the Alison Rose review of female entrepreneurship, the UK economy could be boosted by £200bn if we secured the same share of women in business as peer countries.

We are proud that at least 55% of those supported by  Business & IP Centres are female. From windscreen wipers to coffee filters, washing machines to the Monopoly board game – so many globally adopted innovations came from women.

BIPC Liverpool continues to see an incredible amount of exciting female entrepreneurial talent and is committed to doing we can to nurture and develop it.


Jacqui Johnson
Jacqui Johnson, communications director, Sutcliffe


Jacqui Johnson, communications director, Sutcliffe

14% of people working in construction and engineering are women…but if young girls and women knew just how varied, interesting and well-paid a career in our sector was, I have no doubt that these figures would rocket.

There is a huge skills gap in our sector and at Sutcliffe we are looking for young, hungry and impressionable men and women to become the next generation, who will build and design the schools, hospitals, homes and buildings of both today and tomorrow.

Having been in the industry for almost three decades, I have seen more women come into managerial, engineering and surveying roles in recent years.

At Sutcliffe, we currently boast a workforce that includes many incredible women, as we hope to see these numbers grow even further in 2023 and beyond.


Emma Wilson
Emma Wilson, marketing and events manager at Mersey Maritime


Emma Wilson, marketing and events manager, Mersey Maritime

The maritime industry contributes £5bn to Liverpool city region economy through business turnover – but a staggering fact in the industry is that women make up less that 5% of the global workforce.

After starting my career in the industry six years ago, I am confident in saying that I can see the commitment across the industry to promote the sector to not just the next generation of professionals but women too.

From working as a seafarer out at sea to the boardroom, there has never been such a wide range of career opportunities for women in maritime, including technology, engineering, sales, operations, marketing and much more.

There is still a huge way to go in promoting and welcoming diversity across the industry, although it is great to see that there has been greater representation of women having an influence on the future of the maritime sector.


Racheal Jones
Racheal Jones, chief executive of One Knowsley


Racheal Jones, chief executive, One Knowsley

The cost of living crisis has sadly put more barriers up for women – whether that be the chances of employment or the lack of training and education to re-skill and up-skill.

Many women are struggling to access the opportunities to enhance their wellbeing and ‘sharpen their tools’ to be a part of the workforce and society and this needs to change.

At One Knowsley, we are working tirelessly to remove barriers, unlock potential and give women the confidence that they need to succeed.

This includes our work to support good quality volunteering opportunities in the borough, a fantastic pathway for skills development.

It is important that there continues to be strong role models in our communities and as an organisation we will continue to create a safe space and an inclusive environment in Knowsley, to help women succeed in all aspects of life.


Rebecca Armstrong
Rebecca Armstrong, managing director, Making Energy Greener


Rebecca Armstrong, managing director, Making Energy Greener

No matter your age, gender or nationality, we all have a huge role to play in helping the UK reach net zero by 2050.

With businesses and the general public now more conscious than ever before about the environment, added to this the cost of living crisis, everyone wants to know ways to keep our homes warm, all whilst keeping costs to a premium.

As a female in a managerial role that is also a family business, I understand the complexities that come with being an employer, a wife and a mother, all of which hold equal importance and it is important for us all to remember that.

Much more needs to be done in order to shine a spotlight on women in our industry, but days like International Women’s Day help our narrative and I hope that one day, we can see full parity between men and women in business.


Jen Fenner
Jen Fenner, co-founder, DefProc Engineering. Picture Jason Roberts


Jen Fenner, co-founder, DefProc Engineering

In our sector, women are still heavily under-represented. However the women currently in our industry are still flying the flag and are incredibly inspirational and talented in equal measure.

It is also encouraging to see more and more coming through into STEM year on year.

Currently 77% of tech director roles are filled by men, this is a staggering statistic. But one speaking first-hand that can be amended if the right progression opportunities, the right workplace environment and the right guidance (from school upwards) is provided.

Liverpool city region is slowly becoming a hotbed for innovation and technology and as the co-founder of a Liverpool-based tech business, I am proud to celebrate everything good about our city and all of the amazing women that reside and work here.


Jessica Green
Jessica Green, sales development executive, Carlsberg Group


Jessica Green, sales development executive, Carlsberg Group

I work with so many inspirational and strong women in hospitality and leisure and sales.

Despite both being male dominated industries, I have been lucky enough to forge strong relationships with female contacts, who I am now able to call my friends, as well as simply clients.

It is so important that we all have female role models to look up too in business. Because of this, I am able to walk into any meeting with self-confidence and the full backing of my more senior counterparts, who have given me the tools and the guidance to grow.

International Women’s Day is a day that sees the spotlight shone on women for one day of the year.

However, by praising our fellow females’ successes whether that be in person or on social media, supporting each other through our individual struggles and all pushing towards the same goal of equality and high-performance achievements, we can all reach the top.


Rosie Kenyon
Rosie Kenyon, managing director, Kenyons


Rosie Kenyon, managing director, Kenyons

As a creative sector, we have a responsibility to expand our creative thinking around how we develop and nurture workplaces that work not just for women, but for people of all genders, breaking down every barrier to opportunity and success.

Leading a marketing agency in Liverpool, it’s brilliant to see the creative scene here continue to thrive and grow, and we now have an opportunity to stand out as a community that welcomes and encourages diversity within our teams, at all levels.

We’re known as a warm and friendly city, and I think today is the right time to remember that and think about how we can incorporate that into a professional setting – further fueling innovation and business growth across our city and beyond.


Wild Thang
Wild Thang employs a number of women in key roles in the company


Merseyside brand marketing specialist Wild Thang

At Wild Thang, we are committed to promoting equality and diversity in the workplace, and International Women’s Day is an important occasion to recognise the contributions of women to our team.

We are proud to have many talented women in virtually every department across Wild Thang including manufacturing and key leadership positions at Wild Thang, who all bring a wealth of experience and expertise to their roles. They inspire us every day with their creativity, dedication and passion for excellence.

Today we celebrate the achievements of women around the world and renew our commitment to building a better future for all our team regardless of gender – that’s the Wild Thang Way.

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