Updated: May 26
I've been fortunate to work on some truly fascinating projects of late, partnering with a range of businesses to support women's health, wellbeing and careers, as well as launching my new Self-Care Accelerator programme for busy mums. You could say Women's Wellbeing has become my sweet-spot, and it's really exciting to see my clients (and so many progressive companies out there), genuinely investing in their female employees, and for good reason too...
International Women's Day 2023 encouraged us to #embraceequality because the traditional approach of pushing equality was simply not getting results. Despite the fact that females out-perform their male counterparts throughout all levels of education, once in the workplace, women are struggling to get the same results... Women are still massively under-presented in boardrooms and in leadership roles. The gender pay gap still exists and on a societal level all around the globe, it's still such a common view that "women take care, men take charge".
For the women who are juggling careers with motherhood, stress and anxiety is on the rise. The Pandemic further accelerated women leaving the workforce because of the additional pressures of home life / home schooling etc, but let's be clear, the decline of women in the workplace was already an issue thanks to childcare costs, a lack of quality childcare being available and a lack of flexibility allowing women to balance all aspects of family life and a career. Many women have simply felt they've had no choice but to leave their careers behind, to take care of their children instead. For those that do "juggle" work and family, the sense of work-life balance and self-care all too often suffer.
One of the things we have to ask ourselves, is there really a skills shortage or do we just have too many amazing, talented women who can't get to work and / or can't get promoted?
If we want to see women return to the workforce, thrive in their careers, become the great leaders (we know they are), and stay healthy and well along the way, women must have the type of support and guidance that truly serves them and their unique needs. The good news is that Women's Networks are proving to offer so many of the solutions that women need:
Here are some of the reasons why Women's Networks are proving to be so popular and successful:
They create a safe space for women to talk openly about topics that would otherwise feel taboo in a male dominated or mixed environment
Participants can share and gain knowledge and resources that might otherwise be difficult to access
Participants talk through challenges and help each other find solutions
Female leaders share stories and experiences which can motivate and inspire the network
Access to mentors / mentees
Health topics can be on the agenda without stigma or judgment
Confidence and self-efficacy grows amongst participants at all levels
Networking within office hours works for women who have childcare commitments
Simply feeling part of a community and connecting with other women produces oxytocin, a primary hormone for women's wellbeing
They can be set up on any budget and whilst they need some time investment, the network can become more involved too to help boost accountability and get ideas and value flowing.
When I first entered the workforce I took the approach, "if you can't beat them, join them!". Yet conforming and taking a masculine approach to everything meant I wasn't being truly authentic. I pushed myself too hard and as a result, my health and wellbeing suffered. Over the years, and especially since becoming a mum, I have learnt to come back to myself. I know now to look after me, on every level, being kind to my hormones and feminine needs.
I'm really excited that Women's Networks have the potential to literally transform the lives of women around the world. If that's not enough to convince you, supporting women so they can get back to work and flourish in their careers also has some pretty positive uplifts economically, such as less skills shortages creating full workforces. Not to mention all the research citing the commercial impact that female leaders have on performance!
So the question is, if you're serious about encouraging more women to join your workplace, and equipping them to feel and perform at their best, what steps are you committing to take?