After spending several years of her career as the only female in the midst of a C-level ‘boys club,’ Anna Jones built up the courage to start a female empowerment collective to support women in similar positions.
AllBright, launched in 2017 by Jones and her cofounder Debbie Wosskow, was inspired by a powerful, often repeated Madeline Albright quote: “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Jones – who was the CEO of Hearst Magazines in the UK for five years – and serial entrepreneur Wosskow reminisced over their shared experiences in business, and saw a landscape where there was a wide gender pay gap, a severe lack of women in senior leadership roles, and only two percent of venture capital funding going to female founders.
“There’s this perception that women don’t have the skills necessarily to climb up that ladder and that they don’t have the confidence,” Jones tells Techworld in an interview. “It’s about that self-confidence to put themselves forward, speak up in meetings or even get involved in a network.”
Where AllBright comes in
The AllBright collective began with the launch of its first club in London’s Mayfair in March 2018. It became the first space in the UK for women to connect with like-minded peers, providing the opportunity to create and collaborate on business ideas.
With additional clubs in Rathbone and West Hollywood, women can access the facilities as part of a membership subscription. This also includes AllBright Academy, a 10-week course and community to give members the ability to connect easily.
Membership fees are split into standard and under-30 membership, starting at £75 a month, £500 for six months and £1,000, plus a £200 membership fee, for under-30s and £1,300 plus a £300 membership fee for a one year standard membership.
“It’s our way of giving women the tools and pragmatic solutions to go and negotiate that pay rise and get what they really want from their career, to think about how to raise money if they’re an entrepreneur,” she adds.
Offering individual communities for executives, entrepreneurs and freelancers, AllBright is able to give women the required bespoke support, dependant on their working positions.
However, it particularly appeals to business founders, guiding them through the keys to pitching and gaining investment, thanks to a partnership with HSBC private bank, which provides private banking team support at AllBright’s monthly pitch days, with coaching sessions and advice for founders.
“Part of the reason for that is that [HSBC] has a number of resources that we can use to help the founders beyond our pitch day, because we can’t promise that it solely depends on how they deliver on the day whether they get funding or not, but what we do is enable them to activate a mentor within HSBC that will help them with some other practicalities,” Jones explains.
“I mean, some people have got businesses that have been going for a number of years, but they might be growing it as a small business and now want to take it to the next level,” she adds.
AllBright Academy welcomes founders of early stage startups and larger, which it takes through the process of running a business at different stages of growth.
“It definitely isn’t just for early stage in terms of size. I would say that maybe a third to half of them are businesses that have actually been going for a while and they want to expand to multiple units, internationalise or think about businesses in a different dimension,” Jones says.
AllBright is now expanding globally, with sites to launch in New York and Washington DC in 2020. It has also launched events in Hong Kong and Sydney, offering panel discussions and pitch days in partnership with HSBC.
This is backed with AllBright Connect, a digital learning and networking platform announced in November 2019.
“The wonderful thing about digital is that it can open up the globe in a way that is easier to scale than physical spaces, which are extremely important for us as flagships and we will grow as fast as we can but we’ll be using digital as an important part of that strategy,” adds Jones.