International Women’s Day: Dyslexic Women in Business

On International Women’s Day, we talked to our founder, Ellen Cole (who has dyslexia) about International Women’s Day, what it means to her and why more women with hidden differences should consider setting up in business.

According to research, those with dyslexia are more likely to create hugely successful businesses. But despite their successes, they tend to be incredibly underrepresented among entrepreneur circles.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Ellen: International Women’s Day offers a great opportunity for us to look at how far women have come and to look towards a brighter, more positive future in business.

When I am not working on my business, I nurture and develop female talent, especially those with hidden disabilities who are keen to set up in business.

I myself have dyslexia as well as two other hidden differences. It can be challenging for workplaces and educational establishments to support those who need it. I would like to see more training and awareness being implemented so that those with invisible disabilities can easily access the same opportunities as those without disabilities.

I come from a working-class background and grew up in a time when hidden disabilities weren’t talked about. This continues today, and things can’t change until we start talking about it.

When lockdown restrictions ease, I will be looking for public speaking opportunities on dyslexia so that I can contribute to raising awareness and debunking myths. I hope that through this I can help more people to embrace their differences and feel more positive about their futures.

What values do you have in business and why are they important to you?

Ellen: Making a difference, mutual respect and embracing differences are the core values in my business. I mainly support businesses in the food, drink, hospitality, and manufacturing industries.

I only work with those who share my values. Aligning yourself with businesses who share your values helps to create trusting and long-lasting relationships which is crucial in business. This is especially important when you are overseeing a client’s Marketing, PR, and Social Media campaigns.

What do you enjoy about working in Marketing, PR and Social Media?

Ellen: I never wanted to run my own business. In fact, I was a reluctant professional who fell into the world of entrepreneurship.

Prior to starting my business, I enjoyed a six-year career in digital marketing and public relations. However, after being made redundant I decided that I needed to take control of my future and made the decision to set up on my own.

What I love about running my own business is how no two days are ever the same (in normal, non-pandemic times). For example, one day I could be on a boat with a client on the Yorkshire Coast and the next predicting audience behaviour on an email marketing campaign.

Despite the last year being quite challenging, especially as I have had to shield, I have garnered many successes for my clients who have remained with me during the pandemic. For example, one of my clients has seen their annual sales increase by 1566% which we were able to achieve through a highly focussed digital marketing campaign.

Over the next year, I am looking to bring e-learning courses into my remit and look into hosting more social media training sessions at businesses and charities across Yorkshire.

What benefits do you think working with dyslexic professionals brings to business? 

Ellen: There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet about dyslexia which gives the impression that those with hidden differences cannot bring any benefit to the table.

If you Google the term “dyslexia” the first thing that comes up is that people with dyslexia struggle with reading and writing which is not the case. There are several different types of dyslexia but most articles do not go into this, which is quite disheartening.

The beauty of working with dyslexic professionals is that we are incredible problem solvers. For example, I can spot future trends and issues arising in business early on and will better position my clients for success. Other strengths include being highly creative and imaginative, spotting errors, excellent spatial knowledge, and more.

Why do you think there is currently a gender gap in terms of those setting and scaling up in business?

Ellen: I think a lot of women (compared to men) are risk-averse and struggle with their self-belief, something which I can relate to. Having spoken to other professionals who have a disability, whether that be visible or hidden, their self-confidence tends to be significantly lower due to there being few accessible opportunities for them. They work twice as hard to get the same reward, which can be tiring.

This is the perfect time for women with disabilities to set and scale up so that we can make, promote and influence positive change in business and employment. Together we can educate others on what they can do to support those who need adjustments in the workplace.

What do you have planned for the year ahead in business?

Ellen: A lot of my plans came to a halt during 2020 due to my main priority being to keep all my clients’ businesses open.

Shortly, I am going to be launching a ‘How to Write a Media Release’ e-learning course. This will teach small business owners how to write their own press releases to circulate with media outlets.

I am also working on creating a TikTok e-learning course too. This is currently in the early stages, but I hope to have something up and running by the summer.

In addition, I am going to launch the guest speaker side of my business which will include a series of talks on dyslexia in the workplace as well as presentations on a wide range of Marketing, PR and Social Media topics.

To find out more about Ellen and her work, click here.

You can find out more about dyslexia from the British Dyslexia Foundation.