Spring Forward 2018
All photos © Barbara Evripidou
One of my clients has a keen interest in equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Through the work and research she has undertaken over the years she decided the time was right to run her first conference to focus on empowering women to take the next step in their career and provide the tools to overcome barriers.
We met a number of times to discuss the brief and the objectives for the event. In addition to practical guidance, a key requirement was to provide delegates with the inspiration to make that next step and also show alternatives to help progress on the traditional career path.
With this brief in mind we worked together to develop the conference programme, themes and topics and contacted speakers. The content was to appeal to women ready to take the next step regardless of what stage of their career they were at – from joining middle management or joining the board.
To complement the nature of the programme it was felt that the host venue was less run-of-the-mill. After a number of site visits and meetings at various properties the decision was made to hold the event at the Watershed, right in the heart of the city. The venue perfectly fitted the brief and were very flexible to the needs of the event and speakers.
When people consider ‘the next step on the ladder’ the automatic response is to think of a course to go on, or to find a mentor. We wanted the conference to provoke thought much further outside the box. What other avenues, work-based or extra-curricular, could they consider? How much can an inspirational story actually inspire change?
The resulting programme was a good mix of a variety of elements, keeping the pace of the day moving and interest levels piqued.
We opened the day with Karen Boswell OBE talking about how Hitachi inspires the next generation of women.
There was a panel session where women who had thrived in their chosen field shared their challenges and triumphs along the way and another later in the day which looked at the different routes on how to get on a board be it a charity, school governor, trustee or as a non-exec director.
We discussed unconscious bias and how this can impact our decisions and also decisions which affect us. How removing barriers, being more inclusive and diverse can really help us and our organisations thrive.
The conference was concluded with a relaxed but powerful ‘in conversation’ with Nathalie McGloin who talked about her experiences of being a disabled female racing driver and how there is no relevance to disability or gender in motorsport. Truly inspirational!