#WECAN is halfway through its three-year mission to enhance the resilience and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the Leeds City Region. Led by Leeds Beckett University and Edge Hill University, the £1.7m project brings together academics and leadership development specialists from Leeds Beckett and Edge Hill Universities, with project partner Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber (SEYH).
The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund with support from the Department of Work and Pensions, with the aim of building the leadership skills, capabilities, and opportunities of women.
It has seen huge success over the last 18 months, having helped over 500 women working in over 200 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Professor Anastasia Konstantopoulou, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Edge Hill University said: “The opportunity to meet and interact with so many amazing and inspiring women has made #WECAN one of the most rewarding projects of my career. It is a privilege to work with them and their organisations to expand on their potential and towards fulfilling the vision of more inclusive and gender-neutral practices in the workplace.”
Professor George Lodorfos, Dean of Leeds Business School at Leeds Beckett University, said: “At Leeds Business School we pride ourselves on being in the heart of the local business community – bringing our expertise in leadership and management directly to the businesses we work with to support their growth and sustainability, whilst bringing their experiences and knowhow back into our research and teaching. To have supported more than 500 women from over 200 businesses so far is a fantastic milestone to celebrate. “Thank you to all who have joined the #WECAN community and to those who have contributed to the success so far.”
Ali Ward, General Manager at SEYH, said: “It is a real privilege to be part of the #WECAN project and to support women and businesses in our region. I have been blown away by the talent of our #WECAN community and it is an honour to be part of their leadership journey. It isn’t the end yet though, and I look forward to what else is in store for the latter half of the project.”
Businesses that sign up to #WECAN receive many benefits starting with an initial diagnostic to help identify their skills and strengths as well as any training gaps. This is used to create an individualised flexible plan featuring fully funded leadership and management training courses resulting in Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accredited qualifications for women employees. The project also provides networking opportunities, events, workshops, and access to resources such as blogs, surveys, and research.
Madga Biziewska, Officer Manager at Greyhound Box Ltd, was the 500th participant welcomed to the project. She said: “Working in the manufacturing industry can be very challenging for women. It is a male-dominated environment, and that’s why I decided to join the #WECAN project. It gives me a lot of opportunities to get additional support from other female leaders whilst learning many new skills to assist personal and business development.”
Louise O’Brien, Managing Director at Greyhound Box Ltd, said: “I decided to be involved with #WECAN as I feel it is important to share experiences and strategies. The development of female leaders is something I am very passionate about and recognise that support is needed in a business world dominated by males. Our business has developed already through female leadership and the skills and diversity this brings. We now have a more holistic approach to business.”
The programme is still accepting new businesses and women to the programme, and those interested are advised to take advantage of the opportunity before the project ends in December 2023.
Find out more and register your interest on the #WECAN website.
November 8, 2022