ECT Charity CEO Anna Whitty and two ECT alumni celebrated success this week after they were named on a list of the 100 most inspiring and influential women in social enterprise, impact investment and social innovation.
In recognising the invaluable contribution of women in the social enterprise sector, the WISE100 Index – created by NatWest and Pioneers Post magazine – aims to create a new network of leaders to inspire other sectors to diversify their workforce, bringing benefits not just to women but also to business. It is now an established fact that organisations with the most gender diversity outperform those with the least, the WISE100 organisers pointed out.
To produce the list, people from across the social enterprise sector were able to nominate their women of choice via the WISE100 website and a panel of industry leaders then narrowed down those put forward.
Anna Whitty was nominated for her incredible leadership, transforming ECT Charity into a successful charity and social enterprise and a leading community transport provider in the UK. Outside of ECT Charity, Anna has done a huge amount for the sector, leading a ground-breaking report on the social value of community transport, as well as a pioneering partnership at London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to provide the Accessible Shuttles – this was the largest operation of its kind ever attempted, making the event the most accessible Games in history.
In 2016, Anna was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List in recognition of her major contribution to community transport, both locally and nationally.
Commenting on her WISE100 place, Anna said: “I am thrilled to be named among 100 leading women in social enterprise but I am only successful because of the fantastic team that I work with.
“We are proud that at ECT Charity we have many successful women managers. Transport has traditionally been seen as a male-dominated industry but we have worked hard to create an environment where everybody – women and men – can thrive.”
Antonia Orr, who joined ECT Charity through the On Purpose Associate programme, also gained a place on the WISE100 list andwas nominated for her devotion to helping other social sector organisations become more efficient and effective. Antonia is now Chief Executive at Coalition for Efficiency but continues to support ECT Charity. Whilst with ECT Charity, she worked on the development of a pioneering social value methodology for the community transport sector.
Antonia commented: “I feel very honoured to be included in the WISE100 list alongside Anna Whitty, who has been an inspiring leader and mentor for me and many other women. ECT Charity has been an important springboard for my career. Working closely with Anna and her team allowed me to experience first-hand what can be achieved by an exceptionally well-run and caring organisation which combines social business with passion.”
Geetha Rabindrakumar is another former ECT team member to make it onto the WISE100 list. Now Head of Engagement at Big Society Capital, she looks out for the interests of charities and social enterprises in the UK who struggle to access investment.
Commenting on her WISE100 place, Geetha said: “The WISE100 is a fantastic celebration of the achievements of women social entrepreneurs, and it’s an honour to be named in this list. My time at ECT over 10 years ago was my first experience of social enterprise, and it was great to be part of such a dynamic organisation where I felt that my personal contribution was always valued and judged on its own merits.”
In the UK, 40% of social enterprises are led by women, in comparison with just 6% of the companies on the FTSE100. The social enterprise sector outperforms other sectors when it comes to gender equality and as such is uniquely positioned to drive forward a campaign for gender equality that speaks both to social enterprise and corporate bodies.
At the launch event held at NatWest/RBS in London Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, Business Banking at NatWest/RBS, said: “Tonight we are celebrating amazing women who have set up and run social enterprises. We’re also celebrating women who have helped the sector to grow, women who have given the sector a strong voice and women who are at the cutting edge of social innovation.
“They have very different backgrounds but they have one thing in common: they’re committed to making this nation a better place to live and work through enterprise.”
The full WISE100 list can be found here.