Welcome to the “Social Era” – How Women Are Leading the Way With Social Enterprise

Eve, Le Blog Egalité professionnelle, Leadership

Melody is Founder of InspirEngage International – developing human potential for social impact, an international speaker (has spoken at TEDx Women) and a success coach. With a portfolio in 100 countries, having reached 1m+ people, the European Parliament awarded her ‘New European’s Most Influential Woman’ in 2015, and previously ‘Woman of Achievement’ presented by Prince Charles. She delivers training Bootcamps helping people to launch their own social enterprise and has tirelessly worked to create more opportunities for women and girls, including helping companies increase retention of female talent, spoken at the prestigious Women’s Forum on millennials and social enterprise, and coached many women on her 1-2-1 programme ‘Invest in Yourself’. She’s an ex-war refugee, has written for Forbes, Huffington Post and The Guardian, and is currently on an international speaking tour ‘How to Change The World’. She tweets/ instagrams at Melody_Hossaini


Editor’s Note: This opinion piece is part of the Special Focus “Women’s Leadership in the Workplace of Tomorrow”. 


We are living in changing times – on the brink of something almost unrecognisable to the 2017 eye. Not only in the way jobs are changing – by 2020, the fourth industrial revolution will have transformed the way we live and the way we work – advanced robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be a mainstay in the workplace, but also in cultural shifts- particularly with regards to women’s role in business.

3 things that excite me for the future: Purpose driven economy, growth of social enterprises and rise of importance placed on life skills.

New research is showing that millennials are motivated by and make career choices based on factors other than money. They want to feel a sense of purpose. At InspirEngage International, a social enterprise delivering life skills Bootcamps and social enterprise programmes, we deliver ‘Career Clinic’ – training young people and professionals into their dream careers. We’ve seen trends showing that the majority would choose employment that offers them an opportunity to make their mark and be part of creating social impact, than over merely financial gain. This gives us much optimism for the future, especially as it’s being expressed by those younger and younger in age. We will have a workforce who are ready to create value – not just for shareholders but for the wider community.

This is also the case amongst millennial women. By 2025, Millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. Over 50% of this group will be female and yet companies around the globe report that retaining millennial women 5-10 years out of university (around the age of 30) is one of their most pressing talent issues.

Findings by the International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR) show what drives up retention and satisfaction at work, and one of the pillars is ‘inspire me’ – “I want purpose from my workplace from which I derive a sense of meaning”. InspirEngage is working with companies, to instill this amongst their teams, which in turn drives up retention, productivity and, importantly, social impact.

Connected to this sense of purpose- we are seeing a stark increase in social enterprises being born. We are, in what we call, the ‘Social Era’. More and more people want to run a business that also makes a difference. That’s where social enterprise has firmly carved itself a place in the new business world.  The future will see a growth in successful and innovative social enterprises like Toms. What’s important to note is that women are carving the way here. Whilst in the SME sector, only around 18% of CEO levels are female, in the social enterprise sector it’s over 40% in the UK. This is changing the dynamics of business. At InspirEngage, we’ve been training women to launch their own social enterprises and have seen the power of what it can achieve for women who were previously turned off by the dog-eat-dog business world and were much more service-orientated. They have now found the perfect balance.

Another reason for optimism for the future, is the shift from judging success merely by rigid educational attainment to emphasising and recognising life skills. The Department for Education now awards schools who successfully develop character in their students. In the InspirEngage Bootcamp we train people to develop confidence, social skills, negotiation, critical thinking, communication skills and more. We want to see young people who will firstly want to develop a strong sense of identity and know what their assets are, instead of making decisions on auto-pilot. In the future we think these skills will be more valued by employers than grades.

As a social entrepreneur, I’m optimistic that we’re seeing an organisation transformation, with hierarchy models being replaced by networks, from profit to purpose, from control to empowerment, from planning to experimentation and old rigid ways of working replaced by transparent and collaborative models. We have reason to be optimistic but as always also facing unprecedented challenges seen in the breakdown of our communities based on race, sense of entitlement and politics. To realise the potential of the opportunities of the future, we must tirelessly exercise kindness- that’s the ultimate power.


Article by Melody Hossaini for the EVE Program