In Review: Bloom Presents International Women's Day 2020
Every March and September, we host our biannual events - as part of the 'Bloom Presents' series - to bring people together IRL, mingle with other professionals, and hear from experts who are at the top of their field.
On Thursday, 5th March, we hosted our International Women's Day event, celebrating wonderful women in business, and exploring the steps we need to take to achieve a more gender equal society (according to the World Economic Forum, it will take us 100 years to achieve gender parity - a society most of us literally won't live long enough to see, unless something changes now).
We had the absolute honour of hosting an incredible panel, consisting of both men and women, entrepreneurs and investors, as well as representing ethnic diversity. The line-up included:
Fabienne O'Neill, the co-founder of Cuckooz and Cuckooz Nest, London's first fully-flexible creche with integrated workspace for parents and children under two. Cuckooz Nest allows working parents to transition seamlessly between work and life - empowering ambitious professionals to pursue big careers without compromising parenthood.
Matt Penneycard, founding partner of Ada Ventures, a bold $34m venture capital firm for investing in overlooked founders and marketplaces. Co-founded with VC heavyweight and Diversity VC founder, Check Warner, Ada Ventures is focused on UK tech with global ambitions, and aims to be the most inclusive fund in the UK.
Deepali Nangia, an angel investor on the Atomico Angel Program and advisor to female founders with a focus on investor readiness/fundraising. She has a portfolio of female founders which includes PensionBee, Adia Health, Polipop and LiveBetterWith, and is also a founding member of Alma Angels.
Laura Bartlett, founder of the award-winning, global magazine, House of Coco. Laura Bartlett is a leading voice for young female entrepreneurs, and a larger-than-life example of "failure breeding strength". Laura built the business from the ground up in her twenties, with zero investment and after being humiliated on Dragon’s Den at the age of 25.
Kannan Ganga, social investor & entrepreneur. With a career in human capital in family office environments spanning nearly two decades, Kannan Ganga founded Yellow Door Impact in 2018 to facilitate the traction of socially-conscious businesses with scalable business models.
We opened the panel discussion with the WEF statistic shared above, and asked each of the panellists to expand on the steps they are taking to reduce the 100-year timeline to a gender-equal society. All of our investors back female founders, to not only address the imbalance in founder funding (last year a report by Diversity VC revealed that less than 1p of every £1 of UK venture capital investment went to female founders), but, as Matt Penneycard boldly stated:
"I believe women make better entrepreneurs than men. And I'm not just saying that because I have a room full of women here!"
As controversial as this statement may sound, the stats are there to back him up. Female-led businesses generate more revenue (2.5x their male counterparts, on average) and see happier teams with longer retention rates.
Deepali Nangia exclusively invests in female founders, an activity based on her firm values and core belief that we do, in fact, need positive discrimination as a way to re-address this balance - at least in the entrepreneurial corner of society.
Of course, just because you're female doesn't automatically make you a good candidate for leadership. In fact, Kannan Ganga recounted his experience of working with one particular female leader, who had many shortcomings herself. This then prompted the interesting debate around whether women at the top feel the need to compensate or "act like a man" as they are a tiny minority, or if this is a simply a unique case based on personality.
Two of our five panellists are also working on projects relating to parenthood and the next generation (Fabienne O'Neill and Kannan Ganga). We heard the stories of their businesses and how much they are helping the gender imbalance by bringing these supportive solutions to market. Indeed, men and women experience fairly equal treatment at the start of their careers, however, it is when they approach parenthood age or when women have a baby that they suffer from "the motherhood penalty".
Laura Bartlett injected the most humour on the night and some much-needed light-heartedness after exploring all the depressing stats across gender inequality today. In her refreshingly candid manner, and "larger than life" way, Laura comedically shared her business journey - from appearing on TV's Dragon's Den and getting publicly humiliated on national television (eek), to making a mere fiver on her next venture, to finally enjoying success in the life she wants with House of Coco.
Her funny and warm nature, along with her honest storytelling, provided a strong and relatable female role model for new or aspiring entrepreneurs - and reminded us all that we have to experience failure after failure on the path to ultimate success.
After exploring the areas of entrepreneurship and investment through the lens of gender for International Women's Day, we opened the floor for an audience Q&A, where our lovely attendees had the chance to ask our wonderful panellists anything. Audience questions mainly focused on the practical applications of the areas discussed - how could they help make a positive impact on the road to total gender equality, as an individual and in their everyday lives?
After we wrapped up, our panellists, partners, and guests all enjoyed some mingling and free food & drink, as well as taking home a goodie bag featuring exclusive offers and products from our female founder partners (listed below), as well as an exclusive discount to ride home with London's first and only all-electric chauffeur service, Havn powered by Jaguar Land Rover.
Feedback from the event was 100% positive:
"Fantastic event, loved the diversity of the panel, and felt good to be a part of an event having the important conversations."
"I think the event was super well-organised, a good selection of panelists and a room full of really cool and talented women. The goody bags were so much better than expected - a real treat. A message to Stephanie - you're beautiful, talented and obviously very powerful - walk in that light and own that space, it's yours!"
"Stellar event. Thank you x"
"Steph did a great job moderating!"
"It was a great event and I gained a lot from coming, and that’s before factoring in the goody bag!"
"It was such a great event!"
"Such a vibrant evening"
"Steph you nailed it! I hope you’re really happy because you put on a brilliant event!!!!"
Watch our sizzle video below:
Huge thanks to our incredible panellists on the night, to Lara Sheldrake of Found & Flourish, an online membership, community, media, and events platform for future female leaders, our headline sponsors; to the brilliant Bloom team for being all hands-on deck for the night; and of course our generous brand partners - all female-founded!