IWD 2022 #BreakTheBias: The importance of female mentors

IWD 2022 #BreakTheBias: The importance of female mentors

In support of International Women’s Day and to help break the bias for women in business, throughout March we’re sharing stories from some of our inspirational female entrepreneur and founder clients, who each share their successes and the challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome them. These stories are coupled with insights from female solicitors at Harper James, who discuss the necessary changes that will allow women’s voices to be heard in business.  

Whitney Bromberg Hawkings is the founder of online flower retailer FLOWERBX. Last October, her luxury direct-to-consumer flower delivery service announced the closing of an £8M Series A financing round led. The business has seen revenues double every year since its inception, leading the company to be billed as one of the most promising businesses in the $50 billion global flower market. 

Kate Wright is our Head of Client Services. She has many years of experience as a solicitor in advising start-ups, global entities and business owners on both corporate and commercial legal matters. Her time is now principally spent supporting Harper James’ clients in identifying the legal advice they need to run and grow their business successfully. 

In this interview, Kate and Whitney discuss their experiences as women in the workplace and touch on the importance of female mentorship and support to be able to succeed.  

Female-led start-ups received just 2.3% of VC funding in 2020, according to reports. How can businesses owned by women achieve a stronger and fairer share in the future?   

Whitney: ‘The answer to this is so simple to me.  Have more women and diverse teams making decisions for VC funds and how they invest their money, as only they will understand and see value in the problems that female entrepreneurs are trying to solve.’ 

As a female entrepreneur / successful person in your field, what do you believe the biggest challenges are that you face on a day-to-day basis?   

Whitney: ‘Where to start? I thought starting a company was hard, but then there was Brexit, then a global pandemic, now it seems to be getting even harder with supply chain challenges, inflation, and recruitment challenges.  Basically, being an entrepreneur is just solving a series of problems, every single hour of every single day, forever.’ 

Kate: ‘I have been fortunate with my work colleagues and mentors, and my main challenges to my professional development have been self-made: the distraction of family and friends. So it has sometimes taken longer to achieve what I want.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way!’ 

Can you share three tips that might help women accelerate their entrepreneurial growth?   

Whitney: ‘Surround yourself with entrepreneurial women.  Whether that’s as mentors, angel investors, or women just starting out on your journey; no one supports women like other women and this network will be crucial to help propel you forward.’ 

Kate: ‘Most people love to help – don’t be afraid to ask. If you can’t find a way to make something work, take a break, and look at the issue again. There will be a way, or a get around that works instead. Involve someone with complementary skills to yours.’ 

What might the Government do to better support female entrepreneurs?    

Whitney: ‘43% of highly qualified women leave the workforce when they have babies because of poor maternity policies, expensive childcare and lack of governmental support or incentive to return to work. Unless we find a way to keep highly qualified women in the work force and promote their career paths the same way we do with men, we will never have parity at the senior management level, let alone on boards and in rooms where decisions are being made.’ 

Kate: ‘Provide more mentoring schemes – it’s all very well to have the idea, and you may be able to secure a grant or loan. But having a mentor can support the entrepreneur in holding their nerve in the difficult early days.’ 

What advice would you give to a young woman planning to set up her own business?  

Whitney: ‘Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life, and make sure you have a great support network, both at home and at work, as the highs are high, and the lows are lower than you can imagine.’   

Kate: ‘Work your network – to test out your idea and to be introduced to relevant contacts and then to help spread the word. Then always be grateful for your network’s support and do what you can to reciprocate.’ 

IWD 2022 #BreakTheBias – Enabling and inspiring female entrepreneurs 

Join us for the rest of our series of interviews with some of our remarkable female clients and solicitors who share their stories to help enable and inspire female entrepreneurial businesses.  

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