New awards seeking to recognise the achievements of women in the workplace across Sutton are inviting nominations and entries following their launch on International Women's Day.

The Sutton Women Mean Business Awards went live on March 8 with the unveiling of a commemorative portrait exhibition at Sutton Point.

More than 80 guests attended the “very special” afternoon tea party where people were offered tea, cakes and Prosecco.

There were also “inspirational” speeches from business, political and community leaders, including entrepreneur Susie Ma.

The Tropic Skincare chief executive and founder grew her business from making natural skincare products in her mum’s kitchen into a company with a £40 million turnover.

They have since moved into a new 48,000sqft base in Sutton which employs 160 members of staff, while heading up a network of 12,000 “social selling” tropic ambassadors in England.

Susie said: “I’ve made mistakes on the way to where we are today but I want to say to all of you with your own business, or who work in a corporate business, or who are just trying to figure out what you want to do, keep going.

“Oprah said, ‘All failures are just stepping stones on the road to success’. I love that – and I believe with determination, hard work and belief in yourself, you women – and you men – can achieve anything you want.”

Meanwhile, guests had a sneak peek at the specially commissioned pop art portraits in the Sutton Inspirational Women and Photographic exhibition, featuring 14 women.

All of them were nominated by local organisations “because their success and ability to make a difference in their chosen fields mark them out as role models for other women”.

The new Sutton Women Mean Business Awards are a joint initiative between the Successful Sutton BID and White Label Creative.

They are open to women who are employed across all professions, businesses, and sectors, including charities and social enterprises, within the borough.

Sarah Fraser, head of the Willmott Dixon Foundation, said: “Willmott Dixon chose to sponsor these awards because they know it takes fantastic women and fantastic men to make fantastic businesses.”

“I am lucky to be included in that small 22 per cent of business leaders who are women because I happen to work for a company that values culture and how engaged their people are above profit - and I am inspired by the fact we are not alone.

“Between 2007 and 2017 women in board positions rose from 11 per cent to 28 per cent. I know there is still a long way to go but let’s celebrate the success we’ve had.”

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