Denise Friend, Chartered Accountant, Corporate Financier, mother, and founder of Birmingham accountancy firm Friend Partnership, is using her expertise to spearhead a unique piece of research into the challenges faced by women in the workplace.

Since the 1980s, Denise has been an adviser to many successful entrepreneurs and business owners. With the number of women in employment in the UK continuing to rise, she asks if women need to be realistic about what they can achieve in their careers and when they can achieve it. In her blogpost – Do women mean business? – Denise proposes that women quite possibly can have it all – but perhaps not all at the same time.

To investigate the issue, Denise has joined forces with former Principal at King Edward VI High School for Girls in Birmingham, Sarah Evans, to launch a survey. Sarah has served on a number of independent schools’ national committees and was awarded an OBE for her Services to Education in the 2014 Honours List.

Denise and Sarah have created an anonymous survey that seeks to understand the challenges faced by women in the workplace and also those faced by businesses looking to employ talented female colleagues.

Through the survey, they are keen to hear about the challenges women have faced, the successes they have achieved and the sacrifices they have made along the way. The survey also examines the level of flexibility in the workplace, whether the balance is now right – for both employees and employers, and asks what help the government could provide to ambitious growing businesses.

Denise said:

“It is vital that we identify the challenges women are currently facing in the workplace as more and more women are choosing to have careers, in addition to balancing a family and many other commitments.

“Friend Partnership works with many successful businesses and we believe it is crucial that hurdles to career progression and business success faced by females are recognised, challenged and broken down – and that ambitious SMEs are given the support they need to be able to attract and retain talented female employees.

“We would like to hear about your experiences, so we can report on how the landscape for working women has changed over recent generations, and to understand the sentiment of both female employees and female employers in the current climate.”

Sarah added:

“Our research is also very interested in the impact that education has on career progression and success and how educational experiences and the ethos of individual schools can help to shape and encourage future female leaders.”

The full report is available here.

For each completed response, Friend Partnership made a donation to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.