The Women’s Leadership Forum has been set up by the North East England Chamber of Commerce to provide a springboard for the region’s female talent to shine

The North East England Chamber of Commerce has established an influential Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) with a clear focus on addressing key issues that can hold female businesspeople back, including the gender pay gap.

Alix Bolton, of Northumbrian Water, chairs the forum.

She says: “There is huge potential for women in our region which, for a range of reasons, is not being unlocked.

“In the forum, we have some of the North East’s most inspirational businesspeople from all sectors, who
are ensuring we do whatever we can to make a difference.

“The Chamber has worked hard to provide information on fantastic female role models for a number of years and this new campaign builds on that proud tradition.”

The four specific WLF workstreams for 2021 will include flexible working and the future of the workplace.

Part of this work will be a report into what working life could be like post- COVID-19 and what would be beneficial for women.

Research is also being undertaken to see how the current business support available for women, especially start-up help, could be better aligned to their needs.

Furthermore, the Chamber is looking at its own services to see if it could do more to encourage female entrepreneurship.

Alix says: “The importance of the WLF’s work has been brought sharply into focus with the pandemic.

“Research has shown clearly how the impact is affecting women in so many ways, from the burden of childcare, to having hours reduced due to businesses having to close.

“We have fairness and the need to close the socio-economic divide at the heart of what we do in the forum.

“It is so important we do try to ensure all women are able to be the very best they can be.”

Working with Alix on the WLF’s campaign are influential businesswomen and men including Aneela Ali, of LNER; Liz Mayes, of the Common Room; Lorraine McGill, of Bowe Digital; Nusheen Hussain, of Home Group; Nadine Hudspeth, of Gateshead College; and Darius Dodds, of Esh Group.

There are regular Chamber Inspiring Females events held throughout the year, where people can hear success stories and advice for women wanting to develop their careers or launch a business.