← Older posts

Here is some interesting research on how we spend our downtime

I’m not a fan of generalisation but I’ve to say this research shares some interesting insights into how we women spend our downtime. From this research men spend more time socialising which may be a good indication of why the old boys networks are so powerful and still going strong.

Life time of chores – An infographic by the team at Co-operative Insurance

Posted in Uncategorized

A huge welcome to HSBC as headline sponsors of this year’s Women in Business Awards!

Forward Ladies has announced that HSBC will be the new headline sponsor for the Women in Business Awards 2014 – one of the major awards for women in business in the North.

HSBC will be joined by individual category sponsors O2, East Coast, Q Hotels, and Yorkshire Water.

The Women in Business Awards – now in its fifth year in Yorkshire and the Humber (fourth year in the North West and Isle of Man) recognises the vital economic contribution made by professional women – who either run their own businesses or who are professionals employed within the north.

Griselda Togobo, MD of Forward Ladies said:

“This announcement demonstrates a real commitment from HSBC to support women in business.  “Previous awards have been incredible occasions which recognise the success of women, with former winners of these prestigious awards going on to even greater success, often being invited to Downing Street, and taking part in government consultations.

“We have changed some of the categories to reflect our membership, and there should be at least one category which would be suitable for every member to enter. A new category this year will be for women in science, technology, engineering and manufacturing, which have traditionally been male-dominated industries. We want to empower, celebrate and entice more women into these industries.

“We look forward to working alongside HSBC  for many years to bring greater support to women in the regions.

Amanda Murphy, HSBC Commercial Bank Head of Business Banking said: “HSBC has a great track record of supporting women in business, recognising the significant impact they have within our communities and their contribution to economic growth. We are pleased and proud to be headline sponsor for the Women in Business Awards, an innovative organisation that makes a real difference.”

The awards take place in Leeds on the 28 November at the Queens Hotel and in Manchester on the27 March at the Midland Hotel.

Posted in News, Uncategorized

Would you like to network in Westminster?

Home Minister Theresa May meets female ‘inspirational mentoring champions’

Would you like to network with a room full of 20 MPs and professional women?

This annual and very popular forward ladies signature event is has been scheduled for the 22nd October 2014.

This event hosted by MP Rachel Reeves will be looking at “The Importance of Women to UK plc.” With the recent cabinet reshuffle, it couldn’t have been a better time to be heading down to Westminster.

Forward ladies across the length and breadth of the UK will be descending on Westminster to talk about the contribution we women are making to business in the UK.

Invite your colleagues. Tickets are available from our event page. Just click on the town you will be travelling from to book your place. The tickets price include a first class ticket down to London, networking and reception.

For a ticket that doesn’t include the train ticket down to London click here.

This is a high profile event so we have sponsorship opportunities available for businesses who want to get involved. Just email  griselda.togobo@forwardladies.com to find out more.


Posted in Events

How to deal with negative feedback and criticism

In the course of business you’ll be dealing with lots of negative feedback from staff, colleagues, clients, friends, family and even mere observers. Being at the receiving end of any kind of negative feedback is painful and can have a devastating effect on your confidence and self-esteem. Feedback (good and bad) is very important however you need to learn to deal with it and handle it properly if you are to utilise it positively to develop yourself.

Dr Steve Peters in his book The Chimp Paradox: The Acclaimed Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness talks about two brains, the chimp brain and the human brain. The chimp brain, the emotional brain interprets information with feelings and impressions whilst the human brain, the logical brain works with facts and will search for the truth. The chimp brain makes a lot of assumptions and fills in information gaps with guesses, paranoia and defensive thoughts. Unfortunately this is the brain that gives and receives negative feedback. We have to be careful and avoid the chimp taking over every feedback and turning it into a painful emotional roller coaster ride. Most non-objective feedback and criticism comes from the chimp brain.

Big corporates spend a lot of money teaching their managers to give effective feedback because they understand that feedback given the wrong way is a car crash waiting to happen! It can do real damage to relationships and peoples self-esteem and ultimately affect productivity.

So, how do you deal with negative feedback? How do you bounce back from being criticised? How do you respond and react in the face of criticism?

Below are 10 tips to bear in mind when dealing with negative feedback:

  1. You are told not to let praise get to your head. It’s even more important that you keep the negative feedback and criticism as far away from your head as possible.  Most of us replay bad events in our minds like a movie, reliving the pain. Don’t torture yourself by going over the experience over and over again.  This applies to either oral or written negative feedback. Most celebrities don’t Google themselves for this same reason.
  2. Our Chimp brain has what is called a “self-serving bias”, its quick to absolve itself of blame and rationalises everything to make itself look good. That goes both ways whether it’s you giving the feedback or receiving it so don’t let it get to you. Nobody gives feedback that will reflect badly on themselves.
  3. Feedback whether positive or negative tells you a lot about the person giving you feedback. In fact it tells you more about them, their beliefs, values and expectation than it does about you. As much as you want it to be ALL about you, it’s not. Keep this in mind and take the insights you can glean from the feedback and put it to good use.
  4. Feedback is an opportunity to do some self-reflective and personal development work. Do the work and learn the lessons to be learnt so you can cope better next time. The higher you go, the more critical your observers will be.
  5. We go through life telling ourselves stories to help us make sense of everyday life. What stories are you telling yourself about the feedback? The feedback we receive will trigger some of the negative stories but be objective and try to find the positive stories in the experience as well.  There are two sides to every story it’s just a matter of perception.
  6. Be careful what you post on social media. Even with the best intentions, people still think everything you write is about them, especially when you are in regular communication with them. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who have gone through and are still going through exactly the same things you are going through now. Don’t make everything you read online about you.
  7. I read somewhere that you need to be careful who you open up to. Few people really care, the rest are just curious. Don’t turn yourself into a talking point for other peoples coffee dates.
  8. Know that any situation gets amplified when there is money involved. Money brings out the best and worst in people.  The bigger the amount, the more vicious and critical the feedback and criticism can be. Do your best to be fair.
  9. The person giving negative feedback is not a bad person. They are just projecting their own experiences.
  10. If you keep a journal, this is a good time to go and let in all out in a safe space. Remember not everybody cares as Les Brown, the motivational speaker says, they are glad it’s your problem and not theirs.

I’m not afraid to confess that I’ve not evolved above being affected by negativity but I’m definitely getting better are containing it. At the end of the day, you cannot let the fear of being criticised, hold you back from pursuing your life ambitions. It’s a price to pay and the better you get at handling and managing the negativity, the better for all involved.

Remember that your biggest challenge in business is not the critics and the negative feedback. It’s what goes on inside your head!

I’d love to hear from you? How have you dealt with negative feedback and critics in your business and career?

Share this article with people who will find it useful.


PS: The picture is of two of our members deep in conversation at a networking event!

Posted in Communication, Uncategorized

The way forward for Forward Ladies

Like you, I had a choice of many networks when I left my corporate job with Deloitte to start a new journey as my own boss. The prospects of networking at 7:30 or going into a room full of grey suited men did not excite me and I suspect it doesn’t excite you either. So I was very pleased when a friend invited me to a Forward Ladies networking event that she described as very welcoming and easy to fit around a young family. I went to the first Forward Ladies event in Harrogate and was hooked. I met the most incredibly inspiring women and have not looked back since. I believed and identified with the values of authenticity and inclusivity that was promoted and soon found myself at most Leeds events. I become an ambassador and started hosting events on behalf of Etta and even become a licensee for the Bradford area. I’ve run webinars and delivered training sessions at the Positive Women’s Day and provided content for the hub. I did all these because I thought that Forward Ladies was doing important work and I needed to get involved and support any way I could. I could see so much potential in the network that works so relentlessly to give a voice to women in business. For those wondering, the westminster trip is most defintely still on.
Without a doubt what has attracted me to Forward Ladies and has kept me coming back is the diversity of the network. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in both the corporate and small business world so I can identify with members on both sides of the fence. This inclusivity has created a lot of opportunities and invariable some challenges as well.
So what are my plans for this great network?
I’ll be starting off by going back to our roots and by listening to what you’ve told us in the surveys. We want to deliver value with the membership so we’ll be bringing in a more commercial focus to our networking events to help you get a return on the time and investment you make with us. We know you are busy so we’ll be working hard to make each event worth your while. This may mean doing more with less.

One of the first few changes you’ll be noticing is that we’ll be segmenting the membership into two 2 core networks plus a space for women in Leadership. We’ve realised that these groups need different things from Forward Ladies and we need to recognise and respond to that.

A Forward Enterprise Network whose sole aim will be to deliver tailored support, training, events to our ladies who run their own businesses so they can achieve their growth potential. This will give us the ability to source products and services that will help you grow your business, get more customers etc.

A Forward Career Network that will also be tailored and geared towards supporting our members in their ambitious careers. We’ve had great feedback from the courses, events and leadership programmes we’ve been delivering to our corporate partners so we’ll be building on that arm of the business.

Women in Leadership Forum that will bring together women who have made it to leadership positions so that they can share their experiences, contacts and knowledge to inspire and mentor those on their way to the top.  This forum will also provide the space for women in leadership positions to work together to address key issues facing women in leadership and preventing others from becoming leaders.

We’ve piloted an exclusive members only Facebook Group with a small part of our standard membership (mainly enterprise members) which confirms that there is a need for a space where these groups can connect in a more meaningful way. This segmentation will help us relaunch a more valuable peer mentoring proposition to you.

Advocacy is at the heart of what we do, so, Etta (who is always just a phone call away) will still be involved as the Founding Ambassador with our trip to Westminster this year. She and I will both work together to maintain our involvement with the government and discussion groups. Working together to improve the prospects of women in the workplace.

As we head into this new chapter, we’ll be harnessing the power of technology to connect members online and also create an environment that will make it easier for members to reach out to others members across the entire network.

We’ll also have plans to launch an Academy platform in the future where we’ll offer members online training courses. Accessible 24/7. This is all very exciting developments that will complement what is already happening on the ground at our regional events. Admittedly this will require a lot of work and some significant cultural changes, so we’ll be introducing them slowly over a period of them. This is the time to get involved so please get in touch so we have you details at hand when we need you.

Of course, the very popular International Women’s Day, Positive Women’s Day training courses, Awards and other speaker led events will continue to give members the opportunity to be inspired, connect and learn from a wider audience.

So, it is an incredible honour for me to be in a position where I can serve you, a Forward Lady, and take this network forward and closer to my vision of making it the No 1 destination where both career minded and entrepreneurial women can find the resources, tools and connections they need to progress in their chosen fields.

I’ve had the most amazing welcome to the Forward Ladies family. Thank you for the very warm welcome – the emails, phone calls, tweets and messages have been very much appreciated! Etta has done truly inspirational work with the network and her act is going to be a tough one to follow. I’ve always loved a good change so I’ll most defintely do my best to find a place in your heart.

How I’ve spent my first 30days.

I’ve spent the past few days going to events and meeting some of the Forward Ladies clients and partners. I’m planning on covering all bases so you should be seeing me in due course. I’ll actually be at the Nicola Horlick event this Friday in Nottingham. Do join us if you can.

If not, I’ll love to  hear from you, feel free to email me at griselda.togobo@forwardladies.com and I’ll endeavour to get back to you.

It’s our network so let’s continue building it together.



Posted in Etta's Corner, I became a Forward Lady because..., Uncategorized

Must watch documentary: Blurred Lines, The New Battle Of The Sexes

The documentary Blurred Lines: The New Battle Of The Sexes was just brought to my attention by Linda Barlow. Its a documentary presented by Kirsty Wark exploring examples of how women are assailed in public life, especially online. She asks if there is a new culture in which it is acceptable to refer to women in an offensive way.

Germaine Greer, one of the speakers at this years International Women’s Day Conference was interviewed in the documentary and she thinks that things have gotten worse since the1970s when she wrote her feminist masterpiece The Female Eunuch (Harper Perennial Modern Classics).

I’m so glad I caught it on BBC iplayer. I think everywoman needs to watch it as some of the content is quiet shocking. Sometimes I think we forget just how far women have come in the fight for equality. Some of the things we enjoy so freely today were things that women could only dream about in the 60s and 70s.

Some of the content I found shocking was 

“After hearing sexist humour men with hostile attitude towards women were more likely to discriminate against women’s groups financially e.g. by cutting their budgets”

  • Men who are sexist are empowered by sexist humour and feel liberated to express sexism without fear when we laugh at their jokes. Men who are not sexist are not affected.
  • Some lad groups go out of their way to create environments that are too hostile for women to want to join in the conversation – this can happen in work environments as well
  • Videos games portraying the raping and killing of prostitutes. The imagery was quite real and shocking it felt like real people.
  • As young men continue to watch really violent and misogynistic things online, what impact will this have on their views of women?

To be honest, this kind of thing worries me. I do a affair bit online as a way of promoting the business and I’m quite expressive of my thoughts and opinions. I would hate to be singled out for abuse simply because I was a woman. Is this type of abuse really a gender problem or is it something cultural as was suggested by some people interviewed.

Can we afford not to take abuse on the internet too seriously? What are your thoughts? Have your watched the documentary? What did you think of it?

You can watch the documentary on BBC iplayer here Blurred Lines: The New Battle Of The Sexes

Posted in Women in Business in the Media

Announcement: Yorkshire & North East Women In Business Award confirmed for 28th November 2014


Women in Business Awards 2012 – Yorkshire and Humber

Join us on the 28th of November to celebrate the success of female led business success throughout the UK. 

The Forward Ladies’ Women in Business Awards recognise the achievements of professional business women in the North West of England, the Isle of Man and Yorkshire & North East.

Nominate yourself or a business woman you respect for an award – short-listing will not only increase your own personal profile, the Women in Business awards are a wonderful opportunity to give you and your organisation/company recognition for your success.
Find out more about why you should enter this year’s AwardsTo enter, view the judging criteria then submit your nomination form

*Note: You do not have to be a member of Forward Ladies to enter

Closing Dates for Nominations:

Yorkshire & the North East: Friday, 28 June, 2014
North West & the Isle of Man: Friday, 5 December, 2014

Categories for nominations are: 

  • S.T.E.M.  *New*  (Science, Technology, Engineering & Manufacturing)
  • Start Up
  • Not For Profit 
  • SME 
  • Corporate Leader 
  • International 
  • Professional
  • Home Based
  • Property Industry
  • PA 
  • Retail 
  • Young
  • Outstanding Business Woman of the Year -  chosen from the winners of each category

Read more and check out the sponsorship opportunities on the dedicated microsite at http://wiba2014.com/.



Posted in Upcoming Events

British Airways extend On Business offer for Yorkshire Businesses

Tony Hallwood

Tony Hallwood, Marketing Director at Leeds Bradford Airport celebrates the extension of British Airways’ On Business offer for Yorkshire businesses


Yorkshire businesses have an early Christmas gift from British Airways with a reward flights offer extended over the festive period.

Companies in Yorkshire who joined the airline’s On Business loyalty programme this year automatically earned 3,120 bonus points, enough for two reward flights to London from Leeds Bradford Airport.

Now the offer has been extended to the end of the year, giving new business customers chance to connect with British Airways’ worldwide schedule from their local airport.

On Business is designed specifically to help small and medium sized companies. It is free to join and companies only need two or more travelling employees to qualify.

The bonus points were introduced to celebrate the move of British Airways Leeds Bradford flights from Heathrow’s Terminal 1 to the airline’s flagship home, Terminal 5 in March.

The three-times-a-day service connects Yorkshire business travellers with over 100 worldwide destinations served direct from Terminal 5.

All customers receive a generous free baggage allowance, complimentary onboard refreshments, free on-line seat selection 24 hours before departure, On Business customers also get access to Fast Track security and the newly refurbished Yorkshire Premier Lounge at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Companies can earn On Business Points on all qualifying flights with triple points for the first six flights and they can be redeemed for flight upgrades, reward flights and hotel accommodation.

Tony Hallwood, Leeds Bradford Airport’s Marketing Director, said: “This is great news for the Yorkshire business community.  British Airways’ attractive loyalty programme, On Business, is designed to help reduce travel costs. For every qualifying flight you or your colleagues take, your company will earn ‘On Business Points’ which may then be redeemed for upgrades, flights or hotel accommodation. It’s a cost effective and easy way to ensure your business gains maximum benefit from travelling to London and worldwide.”

For Further information visit ba.com


Posted in News

Children’s hospice gets a boost – thanks to Forward Ladies

A children’s hospice is to get a boost – thanks to kind-hearted members of a ladies’ networking group.

Members of the Merseyside and Cheshire branch of Forward Ladies group held a raffle at a networking lunch in aid of The Donna House Children’s Hospice in Stoke –on-Trent. Around 22 ladies took part in the raffle at the summer lunch event at Wychwood Park De Vere Hotel near Crewe to win a host of prizes from a personal training session to a facial at a spa in Warrington.

Donna Louise’s area fundraiser for South Cheshire and Newcastle-under-Lyme, Hannah Ward-Salt, was at the event which included a buffet lunch as well as speakers. She said:

“It was lovely to meet so many interesting ladies and to hear more about Forward Ladies and its members.

“It’s a really interesting group and we are grateful for the contribution they have made to our work.”

The event, entitled ‘Looking good on the outside, feeling great on the inside’ included talks from Helen and Paul Jones from health, wellbeing and fitness business, Mindgift, as well as complementary therapist, Amelia Campbell.

Forward Ladies invite inspirational speakers to address the ladies and also offer a mentoring system and advertising opportunities on their web site.

Sue France, who heads the Merseyside and Cheshire branch said: “Our members enjoyed a fabulous lunch, got plenty of tips on how to stay fit and healthy both on the inside as well as looking good on the outside as well as helping raise money for The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice.”

Sue holds regular events which can be found on the Forward Ladies website www.forwardladies.co.uk or by e-mail at Sue.france@forwardladies.com.

Posted in News, North West

Forward Ladies launches in Stockport and SK postcode

The new Forward Ladies group for Stockport and the SK postcode was launched successfully on 10 June 2013 at the Village Urban Resort in Cheadle.  At the event Forward Ladies MD and founder, Etta Cohen, shared her advice on successful networking in a great presentation.  Etta’s presentation prompted a lot of positive feedback and she gave many tips about how to approach networking in a confident and well prepared way including:

  • Women can sometimes undersell themselves in networking – don’t introduce yourself by saying “I’m only a…”
  • Believe that you’ve every right to be there, believe in your business or job role
  • Remember that networking is work and you need to focus on what you’d like to achieve from it – think in advance about who you’d like to meet
  • Make sure you’ve prepared some “elevator pitches” about your products or services.  Different groups of people might be looking for different benefits from what you can offer, so tailor what you say to the likely requirements of their business/role.

The next event for the new group will be Stockport Coffee Morning Networking Meeting meeting on 26th September


Posted in News, North West, Region, Upcoming Events ← Older posts