BUSINESS leaders must act to reduce the gender pay gap and ensure more women gain a place in the boardroom, according to a Yorkshire MP.
Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP for Leeds West, warned that more work must be done to help women gain the same workplace status as men.
She made the comments at an event to celebrate the region’s finest female entrepreneurs.
The Barclays Yorkshire Women in Business Awards honoured leaders who have set the pace in sectors ranging from manufacturing to professional services.
Speaking at the event, Ms Reeves, who is a former Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “There are now a record number of women in Parliament after the General Election, but just like the world of politics, the business world has much to do when it comes to giving women a fair deal.
“Boardrooms are still dominated by men and the pay gap between men and women remains unacceptably wide.”
The winners at the awards lunch, which was held at Bowcliffe Hall, West Yorkshire, included Linda Clarke, the marketing and digital director of MKM Business Supplies in Hull, who was named as Yorkshire woman of the year, for larger business.
The judges praised Ms Clarke for championing women in male dominated industries.
Shirin Kemp, the marketing director at Pace Communications was named as rising star, in recognition of her achievements in her previous role at KCom, where she took the Hull-based telecoms firm through a full rebranding.
Mandy Atkinson, the financial director for Hesco Bastion Limited, a defence manufacturing business based in Leeds, received the award for woman of the year in a medium-sized business.
The judges were impressed with her international transaction dealings. She is also the group’s only female board director in the UK.
Belinda Williams, of The Yorkshire Provender Ltd, based in Northallerton, was named as SME (small-and-medium sized enterprise) winner.
The judges described her as an outstanding entrepreneur and ambassador for the Yorkshire region.
A spokesman said: “They were also hugely impressed with Belinda’s work to provide invaluable opportunities recruiting ex-offenders and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Caroline Harrison, from Bradford-based Aspire-igen, was named as woman of the year for her contribution to diversity and citizenship.
She helps thousands of people every year to improve their lives through learning and work.
Suzanne Robinson, the managing partner for EY in Yorkshire and the Humber, was named as professional woman of the year. She was described as “a shining example of an individual who has risen through the ranks”.