On a mild November morning at the Queens Hotel in Leeds, some of the most powerful female investors gathered for the Women Angels of the North Investment Forum, ready to raise awareness about the lack of female Angel Investors. Halston Marketing were lucky enough to be a partner involved with setting up the forum. In addition, we were invited to exhibit – our director, Georgia Halston, is a great example of northern, female entrepreneurship.
Throughout the day, Jenny Tooth OBE, Chief Executive of The UK Business Angels Association, hosted a number of pertinent and encouraging panels. This allowed business-owners and angel investors to highlight some of the challenges women in business face in contemporary UK, and more specifically in the north. The themes that arose during these discussions highlighted the immense need for change while remaining entirely inspiring for women everywhere.
Why Here? Why Now?
There’s an undeniable need for change.
“Fifteen per-cent of angel investors are women,” Tooth told the audience. On top of that, “investing is a minority sport in the North.” This is surprising considering the vast opportunity in the north of England, says Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer of Economic Development in Leeds City Council.
Within the northern investment scene, there is a need for immediate attention and diversification. By coming up with new ways of evening the gender playing field, we can encourage women at the start of their careers to build impressive investment portfolios. This strategy has the potential to boost the economy in ways the current industry model remains ignorant to: “Women investors help women entrepreneurs.” And as more female investors look to the north for other female innovators, cities such as Leeds could see massive positive change to the work environment and economy.
“Company boards are more successful with women on their teams.” – Lynne McGregor, Innovation Lead in High Value Manufacturing.
Tooth left audiences with a succinct reminder – “men are part of the solution” in solving inequality.
No Need for Big Cash
As discussions deepened, many panellists drew attention to another reason women feel discouraged in taking business risks such as angel investing: money.
“We’re brought up on different values than men – women won’t talk about money.” – Helen Gilder, Angel Investor
Jordan Dague, Angel Investor, Growth Capital Ventures, reminded the audience that you don’t need to have a huge amount of money to invest. In fact, Patricia Nicola, Investment Team at Seedrs, reaffirmed this by encouraging women to invest as little as £10 if it helps them to begin their investment careers. The women angel investor environment does not exclude based on income and wants to see more northern young women thrive with what they have.
All panellists agreed that women are underestimated in investment and business industries, while expectations are simultaneously incredibly high.
“As women, we’re expected to be twice as good as men to be considered equal.” – Pauline Dawes, SOMI Trailers
In addition, the average career trajectory of a woman is already at a disadvantage, with life events like having children closing doors to many opportunities while men dominate the field. By starting an investment portfolio, women can challenge these expectations and statistics.
So What is the Solution?
If investment seems daunting, or you don’t consider yourself to be a high net-worth individual, it’s okay – professionals recommend pooling your money and efforts together with other women in the industry. This addresses issues regarding income and positions you within a team of experienced and encouraging seasoned investors.
“Investing is a team sport.” – Bridget Connell, Angel Investor, Angel Academe
Alternatively, Bridget Connell, Angel Investor, Angel Academe, says her success came after attending an event similar to this one because they instil confidence. Considering events like this are sparse, this sparked conversation that asked: where are powerful female role models for young women in the north?
Hopefully, by continuing to create, promote and visit subsequent Women Angels of the North Investment Forums, our collaborative efforts will succeed in showing young women just how successful they can be.
Thirty-one per-cent of women say their gender has impacted their career, but it’s organisations such as UK Business Angels Association and their diversification initiatives that are beginning to smash through this number and gender inequality.