A HIGH-PROFILE entrepreneur, whose foot treatment company operates a clinic in the prestigious Liberty of London department store, has declared women looking to build their own businesses can find it difficult to be taken seriously – by female colleagues.

Margaret Dabbs, whose eponymous clinics specialises in hand, foot and leg treatments, has also revealed her surprise that men continue to dominate board positions at beauty companies.

Ms Dabbs, who has a clinic in Glasgow’s Bothwell Street, urged women to put personal rivalries to the side to reach for the top in corporate organisations. But she admitted that women looking to grow their own businesses do not always find it easy.

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Ms Dabbs said: “It is sometimes hard to be taken seriously as a female in business, particularly from other women who at times are reluctant to take instructions from a female boss.”

Ms Dabbs, a judge in this year’s Scottish Women in Business (SWIB) Awards, questioned the gender representation on the boards of beauty companies.

Responding to a question about what can be done to increase the number of women in top roles in public companies, she said: “I am still amazed that beauty brands have men in the most senior positions, when mostly males are neither the target market, the customer, nor involved in the new product development or needs of the industry.

“To my mind women need to focus more on the top jobs and not get involved in the in-fighting and personality clashes.”

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A recent report by Royal Bank of Scotland’s Alison Rose recommended the development of female-specific financial products, including flexible childcare loans and payment breaks or women starting families, among measures to boost female entrepreneurship.

Ms Dabbs said: “Women form more than 50 per cent of the population so it its incredibly important that everything is possible is done to encourage women to get involved in the business world and anything which facilitates this is to be welcomed.”

While difficulties accessing finance for growth has been highlighted as a barrier for some female business owners, Ms Dabbs said this is a challenging facing business owners of all kinds.

She described her biggest breaks as being approached by Liberty to open a clinic in Regent Street, London, and by the Chalhoub Group to open her first overseas clinic in Dubai soon after.

Ms Dabbs said has been impressed by the qualities shown by entrants to this year’s awards. The Herald is the media partner for this year’s event, which takes place at Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel on May 19. Seven awards in total will be presented, including The Herald Communicator Award.

Zaynab Al Nasser, president of SWIB, said: “We are delighted to build on the success of the previous SWIB Awards with an event which encourages women to put themselves forward for well-deserved recognition.”

SWIB is a networking group for businesswomen in and around Glasgow. More information about the awards can be found at www.scottishwomeninbusinessawards.co.uk