Yesterday saw EWIF, the non-profit organisation Encouraging Women into Franchising, successfully host its fourth Awards Ceremony (sponsored by NatWest) at the RBS House in London. It was attended by 150 guests from all kinds of gender, ethnical background and franchise size, and was undoubtedly loyal to its theme of the day: ‘Inspirational Women’. Hostess Louise Harris said: “It has been a wonderful day for EWIF…although there may not be as many women in franchising as there should be, the ones we have are hugely talented and are tremendous role models for anyone thinking of joining our industry in 2013.”
Awards included titles such as Woman Franchisee of the Year, Woman Franchisor of the Year, and Woman Service Provider of the year, and our congratulations go out to the finalists and winners. Particular compliments to Pam Bader OBE FRSA, creator of Molly Maid and mentor of female franchisees, who received a special award for her ‘Outstanding Contribution’ to the industry.
The invaluable EWIF strives to help and offer free services to women who are considering becoming franchisees and women who want to franchise their own business. They also help current franchises attract more female franchisees to their network, and provide up-to-date information to members and to the public.
But is there really a need for such a pink organisation?
EWIF: Is It Necessary?
To be frank, yes. As Louise Bruce, Co-Chair of EWIF, puts it, the truth that women are underrepresented in franchising in the UK is “a well-documented fact”. What may not be so well known is just how severe that gender imbalance is – according to the latest NatWest bfa Franchise Survey, males still account for 72% of all franchisees (although Census 2011 informs us that they make up 49% of the UK population).
Carol Griffiths recently joined Ringtons, a mobile business delivering tea, coffee, pantry goods and flowery patterned mugs to over 260,000 houses across the UK. Such items would traditionally be associated with ladies and the household, and yet Carol was the first woman franchisee to join. While she emphasised her excitement to get on board, she too was struck by the fact: “I’m quite surprised that I’m the first female franchisee…but I’m sure there’ll be more of us before long!”
She makes a good point. The number of female franchisees in the UK is slowly growing, especially in the new recruits area – in 2006, 16% of all new franchisees were female, and by 2011 this had more than doubled. The EWIF must be able to take some credit for this.
Why isn’t there a male equivalent?
While few of the other minorities in the franchising industry (such as youths or non-nationals) have any large organisations representing them, it is disturbing to think that men don’t either. One argument for this could be of course that the associations already out there, such as the bfa, are currently male dominated. But this is slowly changing. Another reason why Pam Bader was chosen for the ‘Outstanding Contribution’ Award was because she was the first woman to ever have been elected onto the board of the bfa.
So how long will it be before the EMIF is created? Perhaps a while, but in the meantime, men are always welcome in the EWIF. According to the association’s website: “We also have men, lots and lots of men! This is not a ‘women only’ club.”