Mind The Gap- Women & The Future of Work

Where is the future of work for women headed? Read my article for Huffington Post on how women can maximise their chances in the work place and there’s so much more to it than the gender pay gap. Read full article on Huffington Post, here.


We’d love to know what you think and where the solutions lie. Tweet @inspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini


New IFS stats show there's still an 18% pay gap between men & women

Women earn 18% less than men on average, according to new research. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also found that the gap balloons after women have children, raising the prospect that mothers are missing out on pay rises and promotions. That is echoed by a separate report on Tuesday suggesting that male managers are 40% more likely than female managers to be promoted.

I think we need to stop putting women’s pathway in a box and say ‘well it would be the same for men’ – it’s simply not! The stats show that. Whether it’s men or women, if they become a parent with responsibility for child care and are stepping back from a career but they wish to continue working and prospering, then it’s important that companies value the skill and experience and where possible (and some need to make effort to make it possible, if not currently) for them to work flexible hours and be eligible for the same salary rises as those working full-time. Becoming a mother gives you fresh ambition and if valued and invested in, it can provide much asset for companies. Instead it’s wasted.
Yes we are improving and we should celebrate the lower rate – however, for the current focus there is on innovative thinking, working and female empowerment, it’s actually disappointing. InspirEngage International, a social enterprise I run, delivers a programme called ‘Startup & Stilettos- The Future is Female’ (see a snapshot video here)  and in this, we train women who have lost their confidence to launch their own social enterprises and become economically independent. It has shown us that business sometimes is the only place women can create their own rules and those women should be applauded. However, a vast majority of women who work in companies who still operate with a marked gender pay gap, are affected. I support Government’s plans to publish the bigger companies’ pay gap, but the change will continue to happen slowly unless we are willing restructure the labour market to allow skilled and ambitious women (particularly mothers) to thrive.

However, the problem isn’t solely for companies and Government to solve. Another important factor in addressing the gender pay gap is women being afraid to challenge their employers in asking the tough questions & wanting to be paid their worth. Research shows that women’s ambition dips whereas men’s grows- is that due to the system of being undervalued or is it us?

We need to work on the women as well as challenging the employers. This is what we do at InspirEngage with our programmes aimed at women and the speaking tours I undertake- once you understand your worth, your skills and what you are working for, you’re more likely to be able to match it with ambition and productivity. Not only that, but we are now working with companies to increase a sense of purpose connected to the company vision for women which research has shown increases retention. This is good for the employer and for the women.


Upcoming events Melody will be speaking at, connected to this subject:

  • Keynote speaker, Future Fest, on the subject of future of work for young people and women, 17 September, London
  • Speaker at 18th Global Women in Leadership Economic Forum in Dubai, on the subject of career and purpose for women, October 2016
  • Speaker at CSR Lebanon Forum in Beirut, October 2016
  • Trainer at Women’s Forum, Deauville, France, November 2016
For all enquiries, email info@inspirEngage.com. Tweet: @inspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

Watch Melody speaking at TEDx Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Great example of women turning to social enterprise to make a difference!

One of our Startup and Stiletto graduates, Patricia Bidi, running her social mission to give children in her community something to do through Art!

Last year I trained a lovely and vibrant lady called Patricia Bidi for an InspirEngage International programme called ‘Startup & Stilettos- The Future is Female’ in partnership with Hillcroft College, where we help women to make money whilst making a difference through social enterprise. She recently sent me these photos of a community painting session she held for 10 children on her council estate to give them something to do and learn new skills, through fun Art sessions. She bought her own materials and tools and the local church gave her access to their space. The children loved it! Although her resources are limited, Patricia ploughs on to help, saying “children deserve the best.” So great to see this progress Patricia- you’re wonderful!

Startup and Stilettos is an InspirEngage programme, helping women to become economically active through social enterprise. We train participants to be confident (often the greatest barrier), to adopt vital life skills to be able to come up with their own social concept to create change but also provide an income. For all enquiries, email info@inspirEngage.com

Want to know what Social Enterprise is? Watch the InspirEngage definition in this 39 second film! > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuOhwPEiXPw

Last blog of 2014

It’s been a year of enterprise booming in Britain (most notably social enterprise), of Gogglebox making us laugh and Google becoming more valuable than Russia! As always, the year has flown by way too quickly, packed with exciting developments both at InspirEngage International and in my personal life. Here are my highlights.

InspirEngage International has had an exciting 2014:

  • Startup and Stilettos has been growing and helping more women to launch their social enterprises. One of the ladies, Patricia made her dreams come true by setting up a business selling her art, using profits to help young people in her area have something to do

    Startup & Stilettos

    and create their own Art which they can sell! We also branched out and for the first time ever delivered a Social Media Bootcamp in partnership with Hillcroft College and Astonish Email. This is vital for adult women and it was really well-received inopening a whole new world of possibilities. Blog on this here > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/07/startup-stilettos-social-media-for-adult-women/ Another highlight was attending and contributing at G8 Summit in London on women in the Arab world attended by the World Bank, Eve Branson, Cherie Blair and Royal family members.

  • Social Enterprise Revolution – Embedding social enterprise into the curriculum, this year featured in the Lord Young ‘Enterprise For All’ report. Our first year has come to an end with our Pioneer Colleges. We’ve seen several social enterprises being born by students- impacting their communities, making money and being assessed in their curriculum. Here’s an insight into our work at Harrow College > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/08/social-enterprise-revolution-harrow-college/
  • InspirEngage Grows! – This year InspirEngage has expanded our team by taking on new expert Trainers as well as extended our intake of Young Ambassadors, Patrons (including Princess Badiya of Jordan) and Mentors. A special thank you to everyone who make up the InspirEngage story.
  • Personal news: Kian… My 2014 is defined by me becoming a mother. On 10 September, I gave birth to a little boy who has changed my world. We named him Kian (name of the ancient Persian Kings – pronounced ‘Kee-aan’). He’s a happy little boy and a social entrepreneur in training! I regularly baby-blog; keep an eye!

Kian and I

Wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful 2015 ahead.

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti!


On 21st October 2014, The Government Equalities Office launched a new ‘Women Startups’ scheme in partnership with Young Enterprise, and Melody Hossaini was invited to be one of the keynote speakers. Watch the video of the speech which covers her story, why it’s the best time for women to startup in business, and her top tips for aspiring female entrepreneurs!


Tweet: Melody_Hossaini / @InspirEngage

For booking and enquiries: info@inspirEngage.com

Are women better in business than men? What challenges do women face? This and many other questions in a recent interview with Melody Hossaini with Ultrapreneur Magazine.

1. Describe your business or current project

We are a social enterprise delivering innovative programmes that support young people and women to be successful by giving back. We work with educational institutions and businesses delivering shock-tactic skills Bootcamps.

2. What made you want to be an entrepreneur?

I’m an accidental social entrepreneur! Since the age of 13, I had been volunteering and being part of building engagement frameworks for young people’s participation in their community, and after my law degree, I made it my career. Just thought to myself- how can I continue doing what I love but earn a living out of it, that’s how InspirEngage was born.

3. What do you think are the biggest challenges’ that women face today as female entrepreneurs?

It’s different for different women and each sector has its own traits, however, here are the most common I’ve seen:

  • Not being taken seriously if you’re a feminine woman- you don’t have to be alpha-female to be strong in business ladies!
  • If a man is a go-getter he’s ambitious, if a woman is a fiery go-getter she’s often branded as aggressive.
  • Women with children (I’m pregnant right now and really thinking a lot about this) have barriers relating to their priorities at home and work. Something has to give and it’s not easy.

Having said all that, the times are changing and this is the best time to be a female (social) entrepreneur.

4. What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The freedom to innovate.

5. Do you think that the entrepreneurship sector is too male dominated and that more doors need to be open for women?

In the world of social enterprise, the male/female ratio is now at 50% with women changing the dynamics of business. Buckle up ladies- this is our time!

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Been running InspirEngage International for over 5 years now having achieved some awesome things like launching the UK’s first hands-on social enterprise programme embedded into the curriculum of schools, colleges and Unis (http://inspirengage.com/wp-content/uploads/SocEnt-Revolution-Flyer1.pdf) and contributing to international platforms such as Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (which featured on the Queen’s speech)- but most important, supporting young people who never believed they could, and adult women who had lost confidence, to launch their own successful social enterprises that not only make money but give back. I want to continue this- a lot more to do.

7. What would you say to other women out there both young and older that want to break out there as entrepreneurs but don’t know how or where to start from?

There’s a lot to say! I often blog about it – see http://www.melodyhossaini.com/blog/. But in short:

  1. What do you ultimately want? Don’t set up a business for the sake of it- tap into what you’re passionate about, your strengths and where you want to go and find a path that fits.
  2. Make a 1 pager and run it by some people in that sector
  3. Make a start! So many times, people build things up so much that it overwhelms them and they never begin. Take the first step and watch it snowball.

8. One of the main things that female entrepreneurs get most cross about is that they are treated differently, that they don’t get the same chances and opportunities as men. What is your perspective on that view?

Perhaps that’s true for some- but I actually think that the greatest barrier to women’s success is other women unfortunately. I recently recorded a Vlog (a video blog on my youtube channel) about this and how we can become ‘women lovers!’ > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdJ6hA4pFBs&list=UUlGNevYoZDDNarSIeCHf4ng&index=2 Tweet me and let me know what you guys think!

9. As a female entrepreneur, do you feel that you have had to work harder, or change your way of working, in order to make a success of what you do?

I’m a feminine woman in business, an ex-asylum seeker/ immigrant who started in my sector when I was just 13. You could say I was ‘disadvantaged’ but I resent that label. I think mindset is everything. See no obstacle and that will be your reality. That’s not naive- that’s proactive.

10. It has been said that women do make better entrepreneurs than men? Would you agree?

No- not necessarily. Women, men, young people – I don’t care what you are, but I care about what you can bring to the table and what difference you can make. Ultimately your work should speak for itself.

See Melody’s youtube video on how women can support other women to prosper!


Follow Melody on twitter + ig: @Melody_Hossaini and @InspirEngage

There’s absolutely no hinderance for women to succeed, if they work hard and kick ass! Or is there…? I’m a 37 week-pregnant entrepreneur running InspirEngage International and for the first time, I am feeling the difference in men and women as I prepare to juggle motherhood and a busy career. Here’s my latest pregnancy blog.

On 7th January, we found out I was 2-3 weeks pregnant and it’s been a beautiful blur since, made up of baby nurseries, travel systems (yes that’s what a pram, car seat and whole thing is called!) and baby Ralph Lauren all-in-ones! I’m now 37 weeks pregnant with a little boy and due to give birth anytime in the next 3 weeks.

I’m also the Founder and CEO of social enterprise InspirEngage International- an organisation focused on developing skills of young people and vulnerable women in order for them to be successful by giving back. Have been working in this sector since the age of 13, taken InspirEngage into 100 countries in the world and supported thousands into work that also supports the community. It’s an important part of my life- not just a job. One could say InspirEngage is my baby.

So what happens when a real baby is about to enter the picture? Well, needless to say, the answer is different depending on the circumstances and choices of that particular parent and the needs of that particular baby. But that’s the key word- choices. You have to, as a female career-driven mother, make choices. The age old question of- ‘can women have it all’, I’ve always felt is, yes! However, with that, comes a level of sacrifice.

My pregnancy has been a pleasure and pretty hassle-free (not counting the unbearable itching in this last growth spurt!). This has meant that I’ve been able to balance pregnancy and work very well. Going into the office, travelling -even out of the country delivering a tour of InspirEngage programmes for students and teachers in Jordan, and managing a team have been doable. But that’s just the beginning- have been asking myself, what happens, when the baby arrives?

Well, firstly, I see this is a beautiful journey and feel extremely blessed- I can’t wait to see what’s in store! However, reality remains that there will probably be a lot to juggle. How long do you take off to dedicate to the baby? How long should you breastfeed and be available to the baby? Is it ok to want to get back to work? All questions women may ask themselves at this stage.

I tweeted about this earlier and @Michelle_BID responded: “that’s just the start of it, then nursery costs / juggling career and then school holidays all to come”. Yep that’s true- and it’s all a pleasure and what life is about, I am looking forward to it all- but it has impact. An impact which I think men feel a lot less- career wise. For the first time, I am really feeling the difference between men and women in business.

Having said that, women don’t have to let having babies be the end of their career- that’s not what I am saying at all and every mother is different! However, you do have to give birth, you may have to take time out and do things differently for a little while at least.

During my time of working and training incredible women as part of ‘Startup and Stilettos’, I have also seen inspirational stories of numerous women who reassessed what they wanted to do following having children and changed their career for the better- perhaps due to the added motivation gained by having their baby – many female entrepreneurs are born this way, in fact! They naturally find a way to balance their growing priorities better.

Startup and Stilettos ladies and I. 27 weeks pregnant

So what’s the role of men in this – I read the above to my husband and this is what he had to say: “The role of men is to be the pillar and rock. I’m already used to you being independent and career-driven, balanced with marriage, and this is just another step. The role of a man (or my role, at least) is to create a stable platform for you to pursue your ambitions.”

I’m just at the beginning of this journey- so much yet to experience and learn once the baby arrives and no idea what the answers to the above questions are, but know that it’s never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur, I know that it’s important to have a strong support network, I know that it’s vital to have a strong mindset. I look forward to the challenges and pleasures ahead!

Tweet me your thoughts- how did you find it? @Melody_Hossaini


Putting other people down to make yourself look big is one of the most cowardly things one can do. Ever thought about why bullies behave the way they do? Felt angered and just put them down to a lost cause? We speak to a lot of young people who are victims of bullying and we explain that those who attack and generally feel the need to belittle someone, are very troubled individuals themselves.

If you think about it, no one who is confident, stable and happy would feel the need to put someone down. Nothing is gained. However, unfortunately, it’s a very common coping mechanism for others. What we do and say is a reflection on us, not on the person it’s said about.

In 2011, I took part in BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ – and a competitive show like that does push you to your limits. Although it was a little cringe at times when watching back me justifying why I was the worthy winner, it did make me proud to know that I don’t put other people down to make myself look big. Focus on what you can bring to the table and what you can do, rather than relying on why other people can’t, because otherwise, when that component is removed, you’re not left with anything.

You can disarm people with kindness. Sometimes that shocks people more than being mean. I spoke about this in a previous video which can be seen below. Ultimately, that gives you a good kind of power. That’s what’s important and that’s what will make you big- by helping someone else. Blowing out someone’s candle, won’t make yours shine any brighter.

So here’s the challenge we’re setting you- next time, you come to say something negative about someone, don’t and replace it with expressing kindness or a compliment. This will help them and you.

Tweet us your thoughts and experiences on this @InspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

Watch the video explaining how you can disarm people with kindness!

Just started a business, or thinking of starting one? Then you need to know the following basic essentials! Watch my video interview with expert Accountant Sue Towner with her top 3 tips for startups.

Hope it’s helpful. Your thoughts and questions welcomed as always- tweet us: @InspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

Startup and Stilettos: Social Media Bootcamp- Class of July 2014!

We’re living in a world of hashtags, follow and share! It’s difficult for any business starting up today to be successful without the powers of social media. Through social media you can network, promote and learn for free- this is why InspirEngage International designed a brand new course for our Startup and Stilettos programme: The Social Media Bootcamp.

We piloted this in June 2014 to over-subscribed numbers and saw some really valuable results. Having just delivered to another group of diverse adult women, we wanted to share some of the insights gained both in this video and text below.


The Social Media Bootcamp: The Bootcamp was a 3 day residential hosted by our partners Hillcroft College in London (the only residential women-only college in the country), and focused on components such as what social media is, the good and bad sides of it as well as creating a personal brand online around your particular message. This set the foundation because everyone uses social media differently and instead of just getting on and posting everything and anything on there, it’s important to consider what your purpose is and what you want your message to be. The ladies found this particularly useful.

On day 2, we moved onto the nitty gritty of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook groups/pages. We showed, told and helped them to all create accounts and get started! Afterwards, one of the ladies said that, had we not forced her to create an account within the room, she probably would have never done it. InspirEngage mentor Adam Knight, Founder of Astonish Email (an e-marketing tool for small businesses), who are partners of this Bootcamp came along and helped the ladies on their journey of social media discover.

By day 3, the ladies were ready to be set their social media task, and worked in mixed groups to put together and present their social media strategy, bringing together everything they had learned.

The Insight and Feedback: We saw that amongst adult women, there was a general fear of social media. A lot referred to their children being ‘obsessed’ with social media or had heard of cases where people had pretended to be someone else, and were afraid of those implications on their lives. The key thing we got across at the start was that social media is there to be used to suit you!

The other fear commonly held is around privacy. For some, it;s understandable if the ladies are vulnerable and fleeing from domestic abuse etc (which we handle with care). For others, it’s more a fear of being so accessible and visible- which of course is the whole point of social media! We had to help create a whole new culture and attitude towards sharing online, connected to business.

Outcomes! They all got there and we were so pleased with their transformation by the end of the course! Here are some of their feedback:

  • ‘Another fantastic weekend full of learning with a bunch of lovely ladies. I’ve just finished a long conversation with a dear friend who is a life coach, author and business consultant telling her all about it and she wants to “employ” me to set up her social media marketing strategy. After today I had the confidence to say yes I can do that! Thank you so much! X’
  • ‘I found it a very inspiring, interesting and uplifting experience – I learned to set up my business and social media accounts!’ Kate
  • ‘Melody and Adam really kick started a revolution of inspiring and engaging us, a group of very diverse women adult learners at Hillcroft College.’ Zoe
  • ‘It has been invaluable for my startup business and how it’s seen online’ Elizabeth
  • ‘Very inspirational and uplifting’ Juliette
  • ‘This was a liberating experience for me’

It’s apparent that if we want to support more women into business, then a greater focus and support should be there for social media also, as the two are entwined.

If you’re interested in our programmes or want to book the Bootcamp to deliver it for your groups, email: info@inspirEngage.com and follow on twitter: @StartupStiletto / @InspirEngage


Video made by MFT Media.


The 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was held in Kuala Lumpur on 11th and 12th October 2013 bringing together the world’s leading speakers on entrepreneurship. I was honoured to be there speaking on the 2 days, firstly on developments in youth entrepreneurship and secondly on social enterprise. Here’s my overview blog on outcomes and emerging trends.

Barack Obama at 4th GES

4 years ago, President Barack Obama announced he wanted to hold annual summits with the aim of empowering and connecting entrepreneurs, whilst also developing USA’s relationship with Muslim countries around the world. The annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was born and 4 summits on, I was honoured to be invited to attend as a speaker, here in Malaysia.

Upon arriving, I got to appreciate the true scale of it! Over 4,700 delegates from across the world, including entrepreneurs, Government officials and organisations flocked to the 2-day event. Barack Obama was due to be opening the ceremony, however a few days before the event, was forced to send his apologies due to the US currently being under lock-down.  Instead, a video message was played. See a short clip here > ‪http://instagram.com/p/fUDYCsSyRw/

Senator John Kerry GES

In his place, Senator John Kerry took to the stage. I had never personally heard him speak previously, and was impressed with his very natural and easy delivery, as well as use of humour (with communications trainer hat on!).  His opening line was amusing; “If only people in Washington were as collaborative as people in this room, we’d all do better!”

Senator Kerry’s points were centred very much on highlighting the need to support the younger generation into business.  “Great seeing so many young people here- your energy- it’s really all in your hands” He went on; “No one is better to talk about innovation than young people. Every step towards progress has always started with young people”.  This is music to my ears as someone who’s spent many years in the youth sector, advocating for young people as champions of positive change.

Senator Kerry also shared a few announcements:

  • Obama’s focus on entrepreneurship will be on young people and ensuring they have access to networks and relevant training as well as mentors. They’ll facilitate a greatest link between the private and the public sector.
  • Obama is going to launch a new research network with World Bank and others, supporting entrepreneurs
  • They’ll be connecting innovators with relevant capital
  • This is the bit I was waiting for, John Kerry stated; “Obama understand that business is so much more than just profit- it’s about making people’s lives better” He continued in his announcement; “We’ll be collaborating with social entrepreneurs to provide joint space for them to work on to tackle leading issues”.

That afternoon, I was a speaker in a panel session entitled ‘Are we there yet’ – referring to the journey of development for young entrepreneurs. My focus was on social enterprise and it was my pleasure to share the incredible advancement in social enterprise being led by young people and women- as well as the relevance of the education sector in supporting the shift occurring. I spoke of and was asked questions about InspirEngage International’s latest programme Social Enterprise Revolution and how we’re embedding this into the curriculum of educational establishments, allowing for students to develop skills as well as make a few quid by improving their communities- as part of their education.

An interesting question posed was how a social entrepreneur can balance commitment to a social cause with the need to run a viable business. With the development of social enterprise- the two are becoming seamlessly linked. The other speakers, included young entrepreneurs in the App-industry as well as Ms Jolene, a 23 year-old articulate young Malaysian spoke about her business in delivering financial education for young people.

One of my highlight speakers was Prof. W Chan Kim, Co-Author of Blue Ocean Strategy- speaking about Blue Ocean Entrepreneurs who align 3 key propositions: value, profit & people. The ‘blue ocean’ refers to the untapped market and the move away from the ‘red ocean’ of competitive approach that only aim services for current consumers. All about changing the way in which entrepreneurs choose their market, in light of the more collaborative world we live in. Very thought-provoking so no wonder Prof. Kim was named one of Forbes most influential thinkers. Another highlight as speaker was owner of Air Asia (and the Asian equivalent of Lord Sugar!) Tony Fernandes.

On the second day, I was a speaker on a panel called ‘Social Entrepreneurs’ – this is really where my passion lies and where I believe the future of business is headed. The panelists, including Mr John Gage- Director of Sun Microsystems and Human Needs Project, spoke passionately making a case for business with a good cause! The audience, unsurprisingly, was made up of mostly young people! St the end, I felt it only right to share the InspirEngage Social Enterprise Anthem! Video: http://instagram.com/p/faXF0eyyeh/

At lunchtime, speakers were invited to a VIP luncheon where Don Tapscott was a speaker. Don Tapscott – CEO of the Tapscott Group. co-author of Wikinomics and co-author of Microwikinomics. One of the world’s leading authorities on innovation, media and the economic and social impact of technology.

Just been announced as Forbe’s most influential business speaker on social media. Shared interesting insight- my highlight being reasons highlighted about how small businesses can now compete and be as powerful as large corporations. In an afternoon meeting with Don, I interviewed him which will be released as a youtube video on my channel: MelodyHChannel.

Over the 2 days, we attended several workshops, including a session on ‘How I made my first million’ which highlighted the importance of responding and adapting to change as well as developing a strong vision and positive attitude.

The recurring theme across most conversations was that there is a strong change in dynamic occurring which truly affects how we do business- the old models simply do not work- the world is more collaborative, social media driven and shifting towards socially responsible business, with young people as priority.

On a personal note, being back in the region (have delivered InspirEngage programmes across East Asia previously) reminded me of how much I enjoy working with such a collaborative, respectful and innovative culture. NEXT GES -It was announced during the closing ceremony that the next GES 2014, is due to be held in Morocco. Until then!

Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini / @InspirEngage


As the Education Minister introduces his new plans to make students more employable, we argue why we disagree and where the true value of developing life skills of students to be employable, are.

Secondary pupils returning to school last week faced tougher requirements regarding English and Maths. In simple terms, those who fail to score a grade C or above in their GCSEs must continue to study the subjects to the age of 18. Education Secretary Michael Gove has introduced the new rule to make school leavers more employable.

As a skills trainer of life skills and youth engagement expert with 16 years experience of working with young people- I find this infuriating. Let me start off by saying, yes, I absolutely agree that more needs to be done to develop young people’s employability skills and yes, as a part of that, there needs to, almost always, include an adequate level of English and Maths. No one can argue with that.

But here’s my problem with this new policy. At InspirEngage International, our foundation of belief when delivering the skills Bootcamps to young people, is this: The InspirEngage EthosThere shouldn’t be any one measure of success. Yes, every child needs to do the basics and what’s compulsory, however, not every child or young person is in their element in academia. And to subject them to something which they may feel weaker in and not enjoy, can have more damaging effect than good.

Besides, what is the real meaning of employability skills? I recently spoke to a senior at Ernst & Young who interviews applicants regularly. He tells me; ‘If an applicant sits in front of me, and has nothing interesting to say, doesn’t show charisma, then I won’t employ them. Regardless of their academic achievements’. THAT’s employability skills.

When we deliver the InspirEngage Career Clinics, Life Skills Bootcamps or Startup and Stilettos for girls to develop their confidence- the key objective is to support the individuals to discover who they are and where their strengths and passion lies (through ‘My Passport©’) and then develop pathways into work based on this, in a way that’s personal to them. Life skills are key- knowing how to carry yourself, introduce yourself, feel comfortable and familiar with your USP and where your limits lie. Knowing how to engage with different kinds of people, the process to achieve a task, being able to positively influence people- THESE are life skills which make you EMPLOYABLE.

This week, we’re launching Social Enterprise Revolution (@SocEnt_Rev). Imagine a curriculum that:
1) Developed Life Skills of students
2) Allowed you to use those skills to create a job for yourself
3) Which also helped your local community.

Social Enterprise Revolution is a 1 year programme aimed at schools, colleges and Universities (with a strand off that called Primary Revolution @PrimaryRev, for primary schools) which does exactly that. We’re also aware of several other fantastic programmes that support students to succeed, in a way to achieve the true objective.

The policy to effectively force students to continue a path which may actually just break down their confidence and perhaps act as a blockage to a much more suited path, will have an adverse effect on those students, and frankly in my opinion, it’s an easy short-cut. At the same time, students do need to have those basic skills- we propose that the solution be a 2 line-approach with academia and life skills working hand in hand, making the formal curriculum better connected to the real world, allowing students to use and apply their skills.

Tweet us your thoughts @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini and email: info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries relating to programmes mentioned and to join to the Revolution!



Startup and Stilettos Live Blog

The Ultimate Choice for Women- Career vs Family.

Should we feel guilty either way?

This weekend we have been running our Startup and Stilettos Bootcamp to a new group of women, which has proved to be a real eye opening experience on the issue of gender equality. Hearing the views of many of the ladies here from such a personal stance has encouraged us and enabled us to explore this issue from a totally unique perspective. Our Bootcamps are working to empower women to equip them with the necessary skills to surpass the constraints which are often imposed upon them and achieve their goals.

Startup and Stilettos Bootcamp by InspirEngage International

Despite having come a huge way in recent years, it is clear that we are still not living in a society where gender equality prevails – nowhere near. Women still face huge barriers to opportunities, with much of this evident in the workplace. Out of 190 heads of state, just 9 are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13% are female. In the business world, only 14% form the head of commercial businesses. Clearly we are not living in a representative society and something here needs to change.

A TED talk by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shown on the first day of our Startup and Stilettos Bootcamp, sparked a huge debate and showed the differences in opinion between women themselves! Some interesting insights were brought to light and many interesting views were voiced on the subject of women in the workplace.

When it comes to dealing with this subject, there is always a huge emphasis on getting more women into the workplace. Obviously this is something which is at the heart of the issue – but is this always what women want? Surely this can’t be the only measure of equality and it does not represent the epitome success. Many empowered women choose to stay at home with their children as this is what they love doing, and the importance of this shouldn’t be downplayed. As Sheryl Sandberg says, we can only move forward in this arena if this becomes an equally viable choice for men as well.

Initially, focusing on family life and being in the home were seen as stagnating the process of female development and women were encouraged to immerse themselves in professional life. But is it possible that we have now reached the other extreme where this pressure is so large that women who choose to stay at home out of choice actually feel guilty for doing so? In this new era of female empowerment, we are quite rightly encouraging women to explore fulfilling careers and businesses, however after a point is there a danger of prescribing a path for women that they do not necessarily want? These are the complexities that women currently face.

This is exactly what one of our participants felt. A trained lawyer, she feels this career doesn’t allow her to fulfill her other passion – being with her children. She is now opting to start her own social enterprise, which she believes will be able to give her the right balance, whilst still allowing her to pursue her passion.

The ladies at the Bootcamp

The flexibility of social enterprise has been highlighted by many others here as a potential solution. It is a means of fulfilling your passion whilst being able to control the way in which you manage your time, often giving you the chance to prioritise other commitments when necessary. For many of the women here at the Bootcamp, this seems to be a great option which enables them to focus both on their career and their personal lives to the extent which they would like. Perhaps this is why women are currently leading the way in this sector with 45% of social enterprises now being women-led.

Perhaps what is really key here is putting more emphasis on equality of opportunity, and letting the women themselves choose what they wish to do with that power.


Written by Maggie Shiltagh- InspirEngage Young Ambassador, tweets at @MaggieInLondon



Startup and Stilettos, InspirEngage International, Melody Hossaini

The Future is Female- why? The current trends of our time favours women’s more networked minds & sharper emotional intelligence. Things are about to change, and we’re delivering tailored women-only Bootcamps to support women to make the most of this shifting landscape.

On Friday 12 April, InspirEngage International will be launching our latest initiative Startup and Stilettos, with Hillcroft College. We’re delivering a range of tailored Bootcamps helping women to set up their own social enterprises.

Our mission is to prove why the Future is Female. The current trends of our time all point in favour of women. Neuropsychologist Dr Anne Moir found that women and men are different in terms of their cognitive abilities, pointing out that women have better developed verbal processing faculties on “both sides of their brain” so “they can hear two sounds at once”.  This was later endorsed by networking expert Indra Adnan, who said that women are “natural at networking” and better at “soft power” tactics.

She continued; “If it doesn’t belong to them, we won’t have a future!- Business success could rocket if you took more women out of middle management and into boardrooms”. Women have a more acute moral awareness resulting in greater sensitivity to the impact of the decisions they make.

According to research by Dove, the lack of self-esteem among 11-17 year old girls prevents them from realising their full potential, with huge consequences for their personal and professional future.

They found that lowered self-esteem among today’s girls and young women could, by 2050, be costing the nation:
14% of our female managers in UK businesses
16% of our British female Olympic medalists
21% of our female MPs
17% of female doctors & lawyers

Meanwhile the social enterprise sector is leading the way! Women in social enterprise leadership teams are challenging the glass ceiling, with 86% of leadership teams boasting at least one female director. 26% of social enterprises are ‘women-led’, which is almost twice as many as compared to small businesses.

The LAUNCH on 12 April will mark the beginning of this movement! We’ve got wonderful speakers attending including Minister Ed Davey,Joanna Hill from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Rabia Bhatti- UK’s youngest female councillor and Emma Jones, co-founder of Startup Britain!

I very much look forward to delivering the Startup and Stilettos residential Bootcamp course for the women, which follows straight on from the launch. The Future is Female- and it starts right here.

Be there! 12 April, 11am at Hillcroft College, Southbank, Surbiton, KT6 6DF.
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