The search to find the most pioneering women in British business has begun with the launch of the First Women Awards 2009.The awards – sponsored by Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets for four years running and supported by the CBI – celebrate genuine “glass ceiling breakers”. Over the last five years they have highlighted a new generation of female role models, including talkback Thames CEO Lorraine Heggessey and online entrepreneur Margaret Manning.
The First Women Awards also unearth and promote the success of business heroines such as Sue Atkinson, the first woman in the world to run a blast furnace plant (at Wilton); and Britain’s “First Woman of Submarines”, Rosalind Murray of BAE Systems.
A passionate supporter of the awards, Diana Brightmore-Armour, CEO of Corporate Banking at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Now, more than ever, the First Women Awards take on a new significance. As the economic climate worsens, there is a danger that diversity will slip down the business agenda. Instead, this is a time when Britain should take advantage of its wealth of female talent, encouraging flexible working and continuing to create future generations of business talent.”
Over the last year The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s ‘Sex and Power’ report showed that women in positions of power and influence actually decreased or remained stagnant in 17 out of the 25 categories available compared to the previous year – from the senior levels in the judiciary, to women directors in FTSE 100 companies.
The First Women Awards have become in important platform for business women whose actions have helped remove barriers and open up opportunities for women.
Helen Alexander, vice-president of the CBI, said: “Britain needs successful, ground-breaking businesswomen more than ever. Our economy needs the best entrepreneurs and business leaders to open new markets, lead innovation and to push boundaries. Our society needs girls at school to feel that the world of work is right for them.”
A poll of leading UK businesswomen at last year’s awards revealed that almost half have combined a career with parenting, but only half of those actually took advantage of any kind of flexible working.
Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister’s wife and patron of the awards, said: “We’ve had some of the finest business women in the country as award winners in the past and we are sure that there are plenty more out there. We need to be highlighting their stories and achievements through the awards this year.”
Closing date for entries is 27 March, with the awards ceremony taking place at a central London location on 11 June.
The First Women Awards are hosted by Real Business magazine and supported by the CBI, in association with Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets.
For information on how to enter the awards, visit: