WISE100 List will celebrate top women in social enterprise

Leading women in social enterprise will be celebrated with a new initiative, the WISE100 List, launched today, International Women’s Day.

The WISE100 (Women In Social Enterprise 100) will recognise 100 of the most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation. It is run by the NatWest SE100 Index – the UK’s leading source of market intelligence on social enterprise, created by Pioneers Post.

Nominations will be invited soon via the SE100.net website, and the 100 leading women will be announced at a celebration in September.

Celebrating the amazing female leadership we have currently will inspire more talented women to join our sector

Julie Baker, head of enterprise, business banking at RBS/NatWest, launched the WISE100 at the NatWest SE100 Leadership event at RBS Business School in Edinburgh on 8 March.

She said: “We know that social enterprises already have a fantastic record compared with traditional businesses in terms of their representation of women in leadership roles.

“With the launch today of the WISE100 on International Women’s Day, we want to put a spotlight on women across the UK who are leading the way for business with a social purpose.”

Belu CEO, Karen Lynch, who won this year’s NatWest SE100 Leadership Award, said: “Like all businesses, talent is the number one requirement for success and our ability to attract, support and retain this talent in particular is crucial.

“Social enterprise offers the opportunity to be purpose-driven in addition to traditional business performance measures.”

She added that UK social enterprise was already outperforming mainstream business when it came to female leadership statistics. “There’s been great progress made, but nowhere near enough yet!” she said.

Lynch called for continued empowerment and support of women in social enterprise.

“Practical action, such as encouraging flexible working is key,” she said, “but also celebrating the amazing female leadership we have currently will inspire more talented women to join our sector to pursue their career ambitions.”

Elaine Lilley, chief executive of The EBP and former SE100 Growth Champion Award winner, said: “It’s fantastic that WISE100 will recognise the achievements of women in social enterprise. At The EBP we develop the skills of young people and it’s vital that positive female role models are available to inspire the next generation of leaders.”

Header photo: Karen Lynch of Belu (centre) receiving the leadership award at the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards in January 2017