The Northern Power Women awards are in their fourth year and were founded by Simone Roche MBE to help showcase role models and best practice from across the North of England. The awards ceremony recognised people working towards gender diversity in the North and celebrated the success of individuals and businesses last night at Manchester Central. The event welcomed over 800 people who were there to applaud the fantastic work being delivered across our regions by some of North’s inspiring individuals.
With the theme of the event being #WeCan Simone Roche encouraged the people in the room to continue being role models and to keep pushing the boundaries: “The passion and enthusiasm I saw for the winners last night is exactly why these awards are so important. The atmosphere in the room was full of hope and aspiration and it just goes to show what can happen when people work together and say yes we can,” explained Simone.
“These awards have been the biggest yet and I’m in complete awe of the work these amazing individuals and businesses are doing – it just demonstrates the exceptional talent we have in the North and I am so proud of everyone, a huge congratulations to all!”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, one of the keynote speakers at the event, complimented the fantastic women role models showcased at the awards and said: “We are stronger because of our diversity and together we can continue to make Manchester a better place for women to grow up!”
Manchester Airports Group was the headline sponsor for the awards and Tricia Williams, Chief Customer Officer said: “I am delighted that MAG is sponsoring the Northern Power Awards for the second year running. Over the past year Northern Power Women has done a fantastic job in promoting and accelerating gender diversity and inclusivity across the North of England and we are proud to be associated with this work.
I am a firm believer that promoting gender diversity and inclusivity is the responsibility of everyone across the North. The nominees for the Northern Power Women Awards are fantastic role models and their stories can inspire us all to take action and push for greater gender diversity and inclusivity in both our professional and personal lives.”
Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed who was crowned the winner under the Agent of Change category after making incredible strides in the arena of pregnancy discrimination and campaigning for change. Joeli lost her job after she told her employers she was four months pregnant. In response to this experience and the discrimination she faced she founded Pregnant Then Screwed which supports women who fall victim to pregnancy or maternity discrimination. Since she started Pregnant Then Screwed, Joeli has supported more than 4000 pregnant and new mums through various support services. Her online advocacy work has a following of 32,000 people. Joeli said: “I am involved in campaigning to end motherhood penalty, lobbying the Government for legislative change and working with companies to help them understand the business reasons to invest in women, particularly those who have become mothers. You don’t need money, or experience in campaigning, just passion and tenacity. People will follow you and you really can make a difference.”
Jayne Hynes, Founder and Managing Director for Kiddyum was awarded One to Watch for her vision to provide genuinely healthy food for babies and young children. Jayne, who is a former Chartered Surveyor, started making pureed food for her newborn daughter after being frustrated at the lack of nutritional food for babies in the supermarkets. After seeing the reaction, her homemade purees were having on her friend’s children, Jayne left the corporate world and started to do some research into her idea. Two years later Jayne won a competition with Sainsbury’s who were looking for their next start-up and Kiddyum was made available in 300 national stores. On finding out she was nominated for the One to Watch award Jayne said: “This is the hardest journey I have ever had, it has more ups and downs than I could have imagined but I hope I am showing that if you follow your dreams and never give up, you can make a change and eventually others (supermarkets and food companies in my case) will stand up and listen.”
Kirsten Mitchell, Founder and Chair of Spoons Charity was awarded Person with Purpose for the work she is doing in supporting premature babies and families through difficult times by providing compassion, empathy and real human connection. Kirsten suffered a traumatic birth with her son Tom who was born four months early and weighing only 1lb 7oz. With Tom having to stay in hospital for four months after he was born and fighting against lots of health issues, the Mitchells found themselves under lots of mental and financial stress, with barely any support. Kirsten to set up a family support group in 2015 for parents of neonatal babies so their lives could maintain some normality. This led to the charity Spoons being formed and since then Kirsten has supported hundreds of families. “My purpose is to give families who have experienced neonatal care the support and strength to be able to recover from trauma,” said Kirsten. “I have had many people doubt what I am doing, and so many doors slammed in my face. but I’ve developed resilience and despite these knocks I have continued to work hard. I want those who have hit rick bottom to have hope and inspiration and those sitting on ideas to have enough strength and courage to take them forward.”
It was also a good night for the Nuclear industry. Impressing the judges with their goal of accelerating gender equality by pursuing game changing ideas, Women in Nuclear took the top spot for the Innovation award and Adrienne Kelbie, CEO for the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) was awarded the Transformational Leader Award. WiN Cumbria has given countless women within the nuclear industry access to conferences and events that they wouldn’t have otherwise been within their reach. Adrienne was the first female Executive Director at ONR and has increased female representation by 32% under her inclusive and innovative leadership.
The evening also recognised the inspirational entrepreneurs who have succeeded in their goal of setting up their own business, including the Outstanding Entrepreneur award winner, Kimberley Waldron, Co-founder SkyParlour PR & Content who set up the agency at the age of 26. Under Kimberley’s leadership SkyParlour has carved out a niche in one of the world’s most exciting industry Fintech. Since its inception, SkyParlour has generated multi-million pounds of revenue for the business and the region. This Manchester based, internationally renowned communications business, has a 50/50 gender split, and has amassed clients from across the globe including Palo Alto to Jakarta. “I believe that gender equality is about empowering both sexes with a positive outlook and self-belief in a diverse environment,” said Kimberley. This is the second bit of good news in a week as Kimberley gave birth to her first son Lucas last week!
Gill Hodgson, President, Flowers from the Farm Ltd received the Mentor of the Year award for mentoring more than 450 women in the UK to start their own business within agriculture. In 2011 Gill created Flowers from the Farm Ltd to operate as a not-for-profit basis. In seven years, the business has grown from a few Yorkshire based growers to a national institution with more than 500 members, with 90% being women. Under Gill’s mentorship women have spoken about their increased confidence and self-worth, allowing them to set up their own businesses. In 2018 Flowers from the Farm won a gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where more than 14,000 stems of flowers and foliage was donated by the people whose businesses Gill had supported. “Without mentors in place, a company cannot grow, it can only decline. However, entrepreneurs who nurture staff, who recognise each special skill and give encouragement will be surrounded by talented people,” said Gill
Wigan Council won the large organisation of the year award. The organisation committed to raising awareness and encouraging behaviour change, demonstrated through its #BelieveInHer campaign, which aims to inspire females of all ages to keep pushing for equality.
The Medium Organisation award which was sponsored by HSBC went to ThoughtWorks a global software consultancy firm that has worked tirelessly to help reduce the industry’s gender imbalance. They have placed 37% women and underrepresented gender minorities in tech roles against an industry standard of around 19%.
Construction Q was awarded the Small Organisation of the year award, sponsored by Santander. Construction Q promotes genuine flexible working practices and is a shining light of innovation and equality within a traditional sector. Their work with local schools and universities is paving the way for young woman entering the construction sector.
Santander’s Jo Phipson, Regional Director said: “It’s wonderful to see the talent and passion of the businesses shortlisted for a Northern Power Award. I recognise that it takes resilience and passion to turn a dream into a business and to really make your business prosper. I’m proud of what you’ve all achieved!”