The WISE100 Initiative: Social Enterprise's Leading Ladies

by Allana Grant

7 months ago

The WISE100 initiative: celebrating the achievements of Social Enterprise’s leading ladies.

On Thursday 12th of October, representatives from the NatWest SE100 Index and the Pioneers Post magazine hosted a celebration event in London to launch their WISE100 initiative.

The WISE100, or (Women in Social Enterprise 100) to give it its full title, is an index, the first of its kind, which highlights the achievements of inspirational influential women in social enterprise, in impact investment and in social innovation.

The 2017 WISE100

This year’s final Wise100 list, whittled down from an initial 250 candidates by a panel of industry experts, was unveiled to an audience of women from across the social enterprise and private sectors during the course of Thursday night’s event. Our colleague Pauline Graham, CEO of Social Firms Scotland, was one of several women from the social enterprise sector in Scotland to appear in the top 100. She was also chosen to be one of the Spotlight 10; a group of women who’s bios were showcased at the event.

Although unable to attend the event in person, Pauline told us:

“I am really honoured to have been nominated as part of the first SEWISE100 list and especially to be selected as one of the Spotlight 10. Appearing amongst some of Scotland’s most respected SE women is a great honour too. That is rather special.”

A diverse and ultimately profitable workforce

The launch event was set against a backdrop of fierce controversy around the issue of gender inequality in the workplace. Of course, the primary objective of the evening was to celebrate the achievements of social enterprises leading ladies; however, it also provided the ideal platform to debate the subject and discuss the potential of the initiative to change attitudes towards gender equality across all business sectors.

Recent statistics reveal that the social sector far outperforms mainstream business in this respect; with 40% of UK social enterprises being led by women, compared to just 6% of those companies who feature on the FTSE100. Having said which, it is hoped that the WISE100 initiative will act as a catalyst for other sectors; encouraging business leaders to diversify their workforces.

Speaking about the importance of the initiative, Pauline said:

“Accolades like this are humbling but they also make more visible the prominence of women working across the social enterprise community and that can only be a good message for our SE community but also the wider business world”

Pauline has hit the nail right on the head when she talks about the wider business world. Striving to achieve gender equality may well be the fair and democratic thing to do, but it has also been proven to be good for business. It is an established fact that businesses with a healthy balance of male and female employees perform better than those where there is a disparity.