Propose partnership to your boss, not your true love this leap year, says XLVets

21 Feb 2020

XLVets is encouraging female vets to consider using the 29th Feb to make a partnership proposal to their boss, rather than their true love, this year. The move has been inspired by the findings of Kerrie Hedley, Chief Operating Officer at XLVets, who has been exploring the factors affecting female leadership within the profession as part of her MBA dissertation. Her work looked at both enablers and barriers to leadership experienced by veterinary women and found that when it comes to partnership, women were much more likely to wait to be asked, rather than actively discussing the likelihood with the current practice partners.

Kerrie says, “The 29th of February was historically a time when it was acceptable for women to propose marriage. That’s obviously a really outdated concept but we think it presents a great opportunity to encourage women in the profession to change their mindset and actively ask their boss if a partnership is a possibility either now or in the near future. It’s the sort of proposal that will have a big impact on their future and we’d love to see more women take the driving seat and steer their own destiny. The message is: you don’t have to wait to be asked – use the 29th as your excuse to pop the question!”

The research also identified that enablers for female practice ownership included identifying as a leader at an early stage in a veterinary career, having parents who were business owners and being perceived to have more assertive or dominant personality traits. Kerrie is keen to point out that doesn’t mean that aspiring partners or owners have to tick those boxes, “While those are the factors that have helped women become leaders in the past, it doesn’t mean our leaders of tomorrow have to meet those criteria and during my focus groups I found many women in the profession had a tremendous desire to lead, grow and inspire. We’re looking within XLVets at ways we can remove barriers for women and increase access to leadership at every level, including supporting new start up practices.”

She continued, “We hope on the 29th February there will also be practice partners out there who might wonder why ‘she’s never asked’ and use this as an opportunity to talk about forming a lasting partnership. It’s 2020 and there’s no need for anyone to be shy about starting this important conversation.”

Both female practice owners looking to join the XLVets community and aspiring owners can connect with their counterparts within the XLVet community by contacting Kerrie at or visit

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