Having started and run her own women in business network for more than 22 years, Yvonne’s skills as a business & personal mentor placed her as an expert in the business and D&I arena where she has worked for over 35 years. Focusing on women entrepreneurs, women in the corporate workplace especially women on boards or the lack thereof, and even more so the Black Women's Pay Gap, and was recognised by the Queen with a CBE for that work.
What made you want to work in the business and D&I arena?
By default, I feel I have landed in the D&I Space before that phrase even got to be popular. I have always felt like I had to fight for others. I originally wanted to be a nurse, so that I could be helping others.
Whilst I did not make it to being a nurse, I feel I’ve always been in a caring profession – public relations. Looking after and caring for and building other people’s reputations, branding and public profiles became the thing I could do. I have long championed underrepresented communities, being able to view them from my lived experience, with what I call the triple whammy – Female, Black and a single mother.
And whilst I did not become a medical Doctor for the work that I have done in the D&I space and the work I do supporting women and minority owned businesses, I have been awarded two Doctorates. One from Plymouth University and one from London Metropolitan University, along with four fellowships from King Georges College Windsor, the Royal Society of Arts, The Radio Academy and Kings College London.
How does WinTrade Global hep SMEs to grow their businesses and profits?
Wintrade Global Network was set up 24 years ago under a previous name, but we have continued throughout to support women owned businesses from across the globe. First and foremost, networking: because we feel it is so important to know that you are not alone. Quite often we feel isolated and not knowing who to turn to whilst running a business on your own can be a very lonely place.
We run various courses to help our members with business development, from accounting to public speaking, to storytelling, to working with emotional intelligence. We coach and mentor, as well as making introductions to banks and working with members to start up and scale up. We have courses with over 40 skill-based activities.
One of the things that our members find most useful is our weekly Wintrade Global Talks where we do a presentation on anything from social media to branding. We also introduce them to inspirational people they would never usually get the opportunity to hear from. We also work with them to build their marketing and/or business plan, along with helping them to pitch for investment, funding and many other activities which would help them along in business, including organising a weeklong summit and awards to celebrate and profile them.
If you had a magic wand which could solve one problem in the world of business, what would that problem be, and why?
This would have to be equality across the board. Equality for access for all. Access to equal opportunities for information, finance, contracts, jobs, promotions.
As we know, especially in the funding and investment world, where there is money there is inequality. Approximately 80% all available funding and/or investment money goes to Young White Males. Next Male & Female partnership get around 10%, maybe 8% goes to minority owned businesses but only 2% goes to women owned businesses. Until the world is fairer globally, we are losing out on the contribution that women and minorities can make to a country’s GDP.
The internet and its availability were the turning point where more women, and more minorities, were able to start getting a piece of the financial pie, because there were less gate keepers. Now with even more financial freedom being accessible through the Crypto world, we are now beginning to see a change in the fortunes of the brave. More and more women and minorities are losing the cloak of the imposter syndrome. Many women have lost their jobs and businesses during COVID, many have also started anew and stepped up to this brave new world.
What is the mission of the WinTrade Global Summit?
The mission of the WinTrade Global Summit is for both men and women to gain their “front row seat to inspiration”, to hear guests “who will leave them speechless” and be with the “best guests they will meet this year”. They will have a WinTrade Global Experience that will be the best two days they spend this year, making them post-COVID ready to take on the “Brave New World”. We expect the audience to leave having met people they would not usually meet, some of whom will be friends for life, some of whom will be great business partners, and other who will come back around in their lives when the time is right. What they do with that value and vision dictates the outcome of them attending.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There are so many highlights in my very long career. This would have to include, starting the first black owned PR company in the UK, starting the first black women in business network in the UK, starting the first black women radio station in the UK which then went on to give me the title of the first black female millionaire in the UK.
But meeting Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, The Queen, Prince Charles, John Major, Tony Blair, and Gordon Brown were huge highlights. Writing my book 7 Traits of Highly Successful Women On Boards, has taken me around the world (nearly), to America, Nigeria, Ghana, many European countries, it has also taken me through the doors of over 60 corporates in the UK. Receiving my CBS (Commander of The British Empire) from the Queen was also a very proud moment for my family and I.
Advising ministers and representing the UK’s Small Businesses in the European Parliament before Brexit was also very memorable. But one of the things I enjoyed doing most was being on the Economy Honours Committee, selecting the people who would receive the Queen’s awards, advising the first elected Mayor for London, Ken Livingstone, chairing the Radio Academy, and starting a new position at OKRE, an entertainment charity which is part of the Welcome Trust. But the biggest passion for me is running WinTrade Global Women Entrepreneur’s Network and watching women (and men) grow in their business skills, that has to be one of the most inspiring things I have witnessed.
Give us three reasons that people should attend the WinTrade Global Summit?
1) One of the best reasons for attending the global summit apart from enjoying and exploring our new conference platform, and speed networking to meet some awesome people who you would not normally meet, is that there are so many opportunities to meet new contacts, get new contracts, and to see and hear speakers who you would never get to see normally.
2) Two days of inspirational speakers, in the Tech space, learn about emotional intelligence, learn about storytelling and public speaking, learn about Crypto currencies from two of our female experts. Learn more about how to make money on social media, learn how to grow your reach, public persona and so much more.
3) Listen to over 50 speakers, experience over 30 workshops and enjoy the best online virtual awards you will see in 2021!
And learn, learn, learn things that you can take away and add to your business straight away including:
Crypto currency for women; Emotional intelligence in business; Goal achievement strategies; Brand storytelling in marketing; Effective influencer marketing; Strategies for Working Mothers for caring for children in pandemic times; Digital Competence for Women; Brand strategies; Legal Considerations for Entrepreneurs in the digital arena.
What is your biggest goal for the next five years?
My goal for the next five years, is to help women in business connect all around the world, collaborate and be stronger in numbers and stronger together. I want to help them find more access to funding, to finance and to business growth. But also, to think ahead, think more about automating their business, look at how AI can help them, ethically.
Also be ready for what hits us next – because there will be another pandemic of some sort, so be ready for what’s to come in as many ways as possible, to ensure they make it through the other side.
Who do you draw inspiration from to help you have such a successful professional career?
As you would think. First and foremost, my parents, especially my mother who gave me the discipline and work ethic to compare with no other. She brought up 6 of her own children, (some would say 7 if you included my dad), fostered many and adopted two more. We called her the domestic engineer. She worked 3 jobs and ran the house with military precision. Many of the things she taught me and my siblings, certainly serve me well up to now, and I have passed them down to my daughter and grandchildren.
There are very few days when I do not refer to a saying, cook something she taught me, or pass on some of her wisdom. I call my parents’ generation the true entrepreneurs, leaving their homeland with 6 kids on a promise of a better life when they got to the UK, as invited by the Queen. I do not call my mum my role model, I call her my REAL Model… But that’s another story for another time.
Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE FRSA, FKCL, FRA, FKGCW