Blog Series – International Women’s Day – Kimberley Leary #EachforEqual

Next up in my blog series celebrating some amazing women I’ve met out networking, we have Kim Leary, CEO and tech extraordinaire.

A little back story, I met Kim at Birmingham Tech Week last October. We basically spent an entire day networking and bumping into each other and randomly having dinner in the middle of Handsworth that same evening, having only met at 9.30am that morning.

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of networking!

Always a delight to bump into.

Tell us a little about yourself

I run a design agency specialising in branding and web design, called Squibble.

It’s a unique name, right?

It was born out of my constant scribbling; notes, doodles, and sketches, I have hundreds of bursting notepads! Honestly speaking though, it was never what I set out to do, yet nearly 10 years later here we are.

I’m a multi-award winning businesswoman, having been crowned ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2016′, a finalist as ‘Business Woman of the Year 2018′ (for the Birmingham Awards) and Squibble won ‘Digital & Creative Business of the Year 2017’. 

Not bad going for someone who just wanted to improve her portfolio.
Squibble has grown to include past clients like McDonalds, Auto Trader, and Marks & Spencers. That’s just UK based they stretch as far as Australia, Abu Dhabi and New York.

The theme for IWD this year is EachforEqual – as an inspiring female leader/entrepreneur what do you strive for when you hear equality?

Last year, I joined a new initiative called Birmingham Tech Week, as Marketing Director.

The tech-focused week united a range of events taking place across Birmingham City.

The week celebrated the diverse, innovative and growing city whilst pulling together students, start-ups, business owners, investors and sponsors for a week of collaboration and knowledge sharing.

It’s an initiative that I strongly believe in and owing to my high level of involvement I now chair the board and will continue to deliver the vision of a united tech sector.              
When I started the agency I was lucky to receive lots of support and mentoring. Due to this, I try to give back and more recently I have joined the Natwest Accelerator Programme as a Mentor. It’s a huge honour and a brilliant environment for our Brummie entrepreneurial start-ups.

Work-life aside, I also have 2 beautiful daughters and it is for them that I strive to empower women. I am desperate for them to live in a world of equality.

Where women are not considered for token roles but because they are awesome for it!

Where working Mums are not made to feel guilty for not being at the school gate every day and where my girls are not called “bossy” yet boys are seen as “just being boys”. #BanBossy

Can you give us an example of when you were discriminated against because of your gender?

People are often surprised when I say that I have experienced several cases of gender discrimination.

Last year we hosted a meeting for a Birmingham based company. I and my male colleague sat together on one side of the table, he on the other.

All of his questions were directed to my male colleague. It was embarrassing and even when I tried to lead the conversation all questions were directed away from me.

We agreed that should a situation like that arise again, I would step away. But in reality, why should I?  
Although this is not everyday life, my biggest struggle is being there for my business (my first baby) and my actual babies. As a working parent, accessible “wrap-around care” is by far my biggest challenge.

Services are repeatedly being stripped back due to lack of funding. This affects all families and working parents.

But as men are still paid more it’s often the Mum who stays-at-home. Therefore, it does mean that we still have a long way to go before we can truly achieve gender equality.

Some inspiration from an inspiring female boss

One hugely influential women that I would recommend following is Mary Portas. An absolute must is her book: Work Like a Woman: A Manifesto For Change. A fascinating read with some great anecdotes that truly highlight the need to strive for equality.

“She was also featured amongst British business owners including Samantha Cameron, Alexa Chung and Karren Brady, in The Telegraph’s campaign insisting that better access to funding for female founders would help boost the UK economy. Two hundred business leaders, entrepreneurs, Members of Parliament and academics have joined the publication in the rally to boost female entrepreneurship in Britain.”

Watch a small clip here:

The video asks “How has the role of women changed in the workplace?”.

Taken from International Women’s Day: “An equal world is an enabled world.”  

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.  

We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.  

Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world.  

Let’s all be #EachforEqual.

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