Progress supporting women to advance in the workplace continues to be slow with many factors continuing to prevent women from reaching their full potential. A recent McKinsey Report found that women are twice as likely to be mistaken for someone junior and hear comments on their emotional state. This will have a knock on effect on their confidence at work. For women to be in the strongest position to thrive, it is essential they are able to live with courage and confidence in 2024 and beyond.
This was the key theme at the annual Women of Our Time (WOOT) Conference 2023. The event took place on 22nd November 2023, at Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, providing a dedicated space to help women accelerate personal change to reach their fullest potential. Hosted by WOOT co-founders who have more than 50 years of collective experience in corporate organisations and senior leadership, Karen Powell and Lesley Heath, participants took part in practical activities to translate intention into action such as “What’s Your Why?” roundtable discussions, identifying limiting beliefs and how to overcome them, understanding their strengths and inspirations, and defining their 30-day actions with an accountability buddy.
Commenting on the support women need at work Karen says: “Systematic change relies on the commitment of senior leaders and will take time so we are determined to work with as many women as we can to help them find the courage and confidence to accelerate this change as individuals and as a collective. This needs to be a key focus for organisations as we head into 2024, alongside the work being done to remove systemic discrimination.”
Furthermore, a common theme throughout the event was the importance of bringing women together to share their experiences and support one another. Nicola Hepburn of City Group Security said: “One of the conference’s highlights was networking with women from other organisations. This environment provided a platform for sharing experiences and establishing meaningful connections, fostering a supportive network that will continue to inspire and empower Nikki long after the conference ends.”
There is much that organisations should be doing to support and empower their women with confidence and courage at work in 2024 and beyond, which isn’t being done. Organisations remain at the intention and strategy stage of making changes for women in the workplace but this has not been translated into action to support women in this change.
Recognising that this is not going to happen quickly, WOOT are dedicated to making change, launching their own support programme which is aimed at providing all women accessible, affordable and independent services to help them in their own workplace journeys. The Women’s Assistant and Support Programme (WASP)can help businesses and individuals build confidence to rediscover and use the voice they already have. It is crucial programmes are tailored to the individual requirements and can be used for development conversations, to help those who are on career breaks, thinking of returning to work, or women who run LTD companies or their own.
Lesley states that this provision is necessary to ensure women are able to thrive in challenging circumstances. The main principles organisations should be investing in, and are the foundations of the WOOT programmes, include:
- Reflective practice – By encouraging women to use reflective practice in whatever format works for them, such as individual journaling or in small groups where comfortable, women can understand their identity and limiting beliefs so they can create a personalised action plan with their managers.
- Mental toughness – Coaching and workshops around mental toughness can help women to build their resilience but more importantly to be proactive and thrive in challenging situations,
- Coaching – Offering external coaching programmes can create an independent safe space for women to tackle their own challenges and shape their own opportunities.
- Mentoring – Bespoke mentoring programs provide dedicated psychologically safe avenues for guidance, support and career opportunities.
- Community and resources – Establishing resource groups and networking opportunities for women to connect with others, share lived experiences and provide support and opportunities to create meaningful change.