Diversity, inclusion, Black British history and leveling the playing field for all, whilst still rem see more
CWN Newsletter October 2020:
Diversity, inclusion, Black British history and leveling the playing field for all, whilst still remaining agile with our working practices.
2020 seems to have become the most eventful year for many, regardless of age. We have all been impacted following the global pandemic; making much more aware of the things that really matter to us.
October is Black History month, a time where the culture and history of various groups that make up Black communities in the UK is celebrated. This year has been important to the ongoing conversation centred around the BAME community, where feelings of exclusion have come to the forefront. Black History month is no longer just a time for celebration, but also of education and perhaps even action, whether on a personal or organisational level.
We have been working closely with one of our corporate partners ANZ during September, and we hope you have enjoyed seeing and hearing their videos across our social media channels. They have been very open in discussing their views on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Thank you to our new intern Elise Grace for her work in pulling all of this together.
Our Autumn newsletter will cover:
Yvette Forrester of BNY Mellon shares with us the need to educate ourselves so we truly get to grips with the unequal and inequities that Covid has shown and level the playing field for all;
What has changed in the UK since the BLM protests this year?
Insightful books written by Black British authors, some of which come highly recommended by our members;
Wellbeing of Women’s (WoW)urge to support women’s mental health during and after pregnancy and
An array of online events devised to offer you support, guidance and knowledge as a valued member.
Articles in this issue:
- Diversify your reading: What to read to engage with Black British history and culture.
- How has the pandemic shaped us today?
- Wellbeing of Women on Emotional Health
Did you know up to 1 in 5 women experience mental health problems during pregnancy or post-partum? see more
Wellbeing of Women on Emotional Health
by Adriana Tatcheva, Marketing Manager
In light of Mental Health Awareness Week during October, we would like to share important insights from our charity partners, Wellbeing of Women, who have spoken to Perinatal psychiatrist, Dr Roch Cantwell, about the importance of mental health before and after pregnancy.
Up to 1 in 5 women experience mental health problems during pregnancy or post-partum, with depression and anxiety being the most common.
What is Perinatal psychiatry?
Perinatal psychiatry is treating mental illness in women who are pregnant, or who have had babies in the past year.
For a number of women, this can be a riskier time for developing mental illness– and, for some women who’ve already had mental health problems, having a baby and being pregnant can sometimes be an extra challenge. That is why services dedicated to helping women, their infants and families exist.
Why is it important that we talk about maternal mental health?
Some women are afraid to come forward, they feel like they should cope on their own or that people are going to judge them as a mother if they ask for help.
Recognising that you need a bit of help is a really normal and healthy thing. It’s important to de-stigmatise mental health and to say “actually, lots of people have this problem – it’s okay for me to say I have it too”.
Why is maternal mental health particularly important right now?
Becoming a new mother or father is one of the most exciting, but also potentially challenging, times of your lives. We really want to have family around but during the pandemic, we’re that bit more distanced from each other.
Even if you can’t have somebody physically in the room with you, stay in touch with people and don’t allow yourself to get isolated.
Draw on support from family and professionals and ask for help.
Wellbeing of Women Project: Preparing women for induced labour
For a variety of reasons, healthcare professionals are offering induction of labour to a greater number of women and, at the moment, 30-40% of labours are induced.
Induction can, however, affect a woman’s birth preferences, which can have a negative impact on the mother’s mental health if she doesn’t feel prepared.
This is why Wellbeing of Women Research Midwife, Sam Nightingale, is developing a video to help women prepare for induction of labour.
By improving women’s understanding of induced labour and addressing their needs, this study aims to improve the experience for women and their families as well as their mental health afterwards. Find out more about Sam’s project here
Fertility: 'Conceivable' with author Jheni Osman and Dr Ed Coats - Wednesday 7 October – 1-2pm
Prepare for your fertility journey with this expert dive into the technical and emotional aspects of IVF. Journalist and presenter, Jheni Osman and obstetrician, gynaecologist and fertility specialist, Dr Ed Coats, will discuss IVF in detail and answer your questions during a live Q&A.
Quite. Claudia Winkleman in conversation with her mother Eve Pollard OBE -Wednesday 14 October – 1-2pm
Join the nation’s favourite TV presenter and journalist Claudia Winkleman to celebrate the launch of her debut book 'Quite'. Claudia will talk to her mother, Wellbeing of Women Vice Chair, Eve Pollard OBE, about her thoughts on friendship, the power of art, the highs and lows of parenting and the secret of creating her trademark smoky eye.
Thank you to Laura Neale and Alice Sholl from the charity for their help in collating this article and to Adriana Tatcheva for the write up.
Have you read literature by Black British authors that gave you insight into Black British history? see more
Diversify your reading: What to read to engage with Black British history and culture.
Preeti Bonthron. Marketing Manager
As an Indian born a few decades after the British left India, my upbringing was flavoured with the remains of the Raj. While I, like most of my generation, learned about colonialism, it was through the lens of how colonialism shaped modern India. The Black history that I was taught focused on the overwhelming effect of the transatlantic slave trade and the Civil Rights movement on America.
Black history in the UK is different.
It goes back much farther. The Ivory Bangle Lady is evidence of Black people’s presence in Britain under Roman occupation as early as the second half of the fourth century. Since then there have been many other migrants that left their mark on history, from commoners like King Henry VIII’s Black trumpeter to Queen Charlotte who was the great grandmother of Queen Victoria and is purported to have Black ancestry.
Slave trade is a part of Britain’s history but by 1808 legislation was passed to abolish it, slowly changing Britain’s role from participant to watchdog, albeit an imperfect one. In subsequent years, the colonisation of Africa, Asia and the Americas meant that portions of culture from Britain’s various colonies were brought back to merge with British culture in the UK.
Modern British Black history contains the stories of Jamaicans who came over to fight in WW1, people from the Caribbean and Africa who were brought over for WW2, the Windrush generation following WW2 and continued migration as young people began to explore opportunities in the UK for education and work.
In order to fully understand British Black history and culture, one needs to consider the broader nuances by separating it from the transatlantic slave trade, because while that played its part, British Black history is so much richer.
History can be understood through literature. Whether it is modern day novels or essays written several hundred years ago, a book is a brilliant means of grappling with the issues of the time through the lens of someone who engaged with them either firsthand or through collective experience.
We asked some CWN members about their experience with literature either written by British authors or about Black British history that gave them insights into or changed their perspectives around this.
“I’ve read two books that have influenced my view on Black history recently and those are Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Addo Lodge and White Fragility – Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism by Robin Diangelo. Reni’s book does give a really interesting and disturbing insight into Britain’s role in facilitating slavery and Robin’s book is more US focused. Both are excellent but I think what has had the biggest impact on me is the Netflix film 13th where filmmaker Ava DuVernay exposes the history of racial inequality in the US using the 13th amendment as the basis. I found it jaw dropping and I was horrified about how little I had truly understood systemic racism despite considering myself anti-racist.” Geraldine Gallacher, The Executive Coaching Consultancy Ltd.
“Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Renni Eddo-Lodge and White Fragility by Robin Diangelo are two great books, both of which have had an impact on me this year and have helped me frame discussions when speaking about race. They discuss Black history, racism and the concept of white privilege and provide a real insight into why conversations around racism are often sensitive and uncomfortable for both Black and white people. Some of the chapters are enlightening and educational in explaining the different perspectives. In addition to discussing what needs to happen to bring about positive change. A great read for anyone who wants to learn more and is serious about addressing racism and discrimination." Catherine Wade, HR Interim/Business Coach.
The tone of the room in recent months has been quite academic, with people learning more about the issues surrounding race, diversity, inclusion, privilege culture and how these discussions play into our day to day.
For a more lighthearted take on these heavy subjects, there are some wonderful novels written by Black British authors, all uniquely flavoured by their various heritages.
We’re in the last quarter of the year, and while there may not be much time to dismantle your ever growing tsundoku, we’d still like to encourage you to read something written by a Black British female author.
If you’re looking for recommendations, here is a selection that’s on our lists too.
Don’t touch my hair by Emma Dabiri
I will not be erased by gal-dem
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo
The Book of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohammed
Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie
Happiness by Aminata Forna
Is there a book written by a Black British author or on Black British history that you’ve particularly enjoyed?
How do businesses remain agile and thrive? see more
How has the pandemic shaped us today? by Yvette Forrester
Vice President, BNY Mellon | Diversity champion | Charity Trustee | Mentor | CWN Board member.
How has the pandemic shaped us today?
In December last year there was a last minute scramble for my eldest to complete his personal statement for university. He did it in his lastminute.com style and his future was mapped. Well at least that’s what we thought. Although we are in the midst of preparing for him to go to University and his brother just starting Year 11, for both there will be a sense of promise, new beginnings and I suspect dread.
They are both entering new phases in their lives with the Covid cloud hovering. future marred by a pandemic is never easy to reconcile – this is new for so many and in a way I am glad they are sheltering in education. The level of resilience to navigate this new normal will have to be extraordinary. We’ve had to flex with this stop/start way of living moving in an agile way most of us have never experienced.
Lockdown, with its benefits of getting to spend time at home. The eerie and quiet stillness of spring and the horror as Covid took hold of so many around the world. For some this opened the door to mental health challenges, unspeakable domestic violence and overwhelming strain with our medical saviours.
Several friends and acquaintances told me of the Covid deaths they had the misfortune to experience and in the early days it did appear that Covid did not discriminate. However, data has shown that our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic family, friends and colleagues had their lives and anxieties blighted by the disproportionate amount of deaths experienced.
Then the social movement took hold, launched by some gruesome deaths at the hands of the police, racists and those who could use the colour of their skin in a privileged way to harm others.
With the outpouring of scorn and the show of support from many for those suffering at the hands of Covid and social injustice we are seeing a new dawn.
Months on, we see the City landscape changing as more people work from home and less coffee and sandwich shops are visited. This downturn in activity has heralded the start of an economic decline for all to see whether in retail, financial services or aviation industries. As well as to be expected, employment is now going through a contraction as companies look to stem the outflow of cash and manage for an uncertain future. But still we must remain agile.
It appears there are very few winners in this new normal but there are steps we can take to ensure we get through this:
We all need to educate ourselves so that we are vigilant when it comes to the tentacles of Covid.
We need to educate ourselves so we truly get to grips with the unequal and inequities that Covid has shown and level the playing field.
We must not underestimate the many forms Covid still takes whether it is affecting those near to us or be it one of the over 42,369 (according to the government's data) whose lives have not been spared.
Where we need to speak up in the face of any form of racism – explicit or covert – we must all speak up and speak out against this.
We have to be agents of change whether it is in our behaviours with the wearing of masks or confronting our biases and how this can affect others.
We have to have a generosity of spirit and kindness in a time where we can help those less fortunate than ourselves.
As I have been saying to my boys, we need to flex, adjust, adapt and be kind. This is our time and this is our new normal.
A Christmas edition to wrap up 2020. see more
CWN Newsletter December 2020
As we approach the end of 2020, it is time to reflect on the many challenges we have overcome this year, look ahead to our plans and focus for 2021.
For some, the start of the New Year is filled with hope and possibilities. A time of new beginnings. An opportunity to plan ahead and get excited about achieving some of the aspirations on our wish list. Throughout this year, the Covid pandemic has presented challenges beyond what many of us could have reasonably imagined, requiring an immediate re-think of how we live our lives. Many of our career goals and aspirations had to take a firm back seat, whilst we concentrated on our professional survival and personal well-being.
During 2020, many of us have had the opportunity to consume more news on a daily basis than might normally be considered healthy for us. Alongside this, work-related pressures, health concerns and family issues have meant we have been unable to do some of the things on our wish list that normally keep us going during these times. With the increasing focus on the impact of the pandemic on our mental health it is also clear that the need to look after our physical and mental well-being is becoming increasingly important.
As we approach the end of the year, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on how we have modified our lives during 2020 as well as what we want and hope for in 2021. What aspirations do we have for 2021? What’s possible? What has been good for us, despite the pandemic and what do we want to draw a line under? How do we move into the New Year in a positive frame of mind? There is plenty to reflect on.’ We thank Cathy Wade for such a relevant observation.
To reflect on 2020 and find inspiration for 2021 our newsletter covers:
- A year in review from our president, Uma Cresswell.
- Inspiring our aspirational pipeline of members to take advantage of coaching as part of their CWN membership by Patricia Galloway.
- It’s time to wrap up 2020 and plan for a healthier 2021 by Parminder Dhillon.
- A special message to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our charity partnership from Janet Lindsay, Chief Executive, Wellbeing of Women
- Our future programme of events devised to offer you support, guidance and knowledge as a valued member.
CWN brings you thought-provoking webinars see more
Take advantage of our events programme
Every year, CWN brings you thought-provoking webinars, with a programme devised to support you.
As a Member: tickets are free, however, you have the option of making a donation to our charity partner by choosing one of the Member 'donation' tickets.
Inviting a non-member: There is a nominal charge to attend (a choice between a £10, £15 and £20 ticket price), with all money raised going to CWN’s charity partner, Wellbeing of Women (WoW).
You can access our full events calendar here. Don’t forget to look out for events in 2021.
Lastly, do remember that all events will be recorded and available to view by CWN members on our website under our Members Area - Our Online Academy.
We are delighted to have raised in excess of £8,242 for our charity partner see more
Wellbeing of Women thanks you for your support this year
Wellbeing of Women thanks you for your support this year
“We are delighted to have raised in excess of £8,242 for our charity partner and the CWN board has committed to topping up this figure and taking the total fundraising contribution to £10,000 for this year! Thank you all very much for all your generous donations” Uma Cresswell, CWN President
Janet Lindsay, Chief Executive of Wellbeing of Women has written a special message to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our partnership.
“We have been incredibly grateful for the support of CWN and our partnership throughout 2020. Although many of our fundraising plans were put on hold, we have found new ways to ensure our vital women’s health research continues. The CWN board has been a great support for Wellbeing of Women, helping us get new projects off the ground and raising money through events for our research into women’s health. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know CWN’s team and members and are very excited to be going into a new year together!”
what healthy habits are you planning to take up? see more
Time to plan for a healthier 2021, by Parminder Dhillon
As we end this year – what some might call the most significant and challenging year in a long time – we now have a chance to reflect on what truly matters to us and what we would like to change in the New Year.
This year, we were cut off from comforts that we used to take for granted – a predictable routine, holidays, social engagements and everyday interactions that were part of the norm. The life that we thought would be impossible became a reality. Our lives were pared back as plans were disrupted, giving us some much-needed time at home and the opportunity to focus on relationships – whether with a spouse, a parent or a child.
The one thing this year really brought into perspective is the importance of mental health. Being forced to accommodate a change of life, losing control of plans and coming face to face with issues that we once put aside was a challenge.
For many, the year 2020 became the year of epiphanies, and with them, the resolve to work towards change in 2021. There has been an extra focus on the importance of our mental health, giving up negative habits, and adding in routines to make us healthier, more mindful and happier in the long run.
Here are some suggestions to incorporate into your daily routine in 2021 to cultivate better mental health.
How many hours do you sleep each night?
In order to cope with challenges stemming from the pandemic, many of us are staying awake longer, binge watching dramas, stressing over pressure and dealing with the resulting anxiety. As such, the Sleep Foundation suggests that many of us are losing sleep, which can take a toll on our health.
The Sleep Foundation suggests that sleep is even more important than it was before as:
- Sleep strengthens our immune system to fight diseases and illness.
- Sleep heightens our brain’s ability to be more effective in making decisions and tackling the many challenges that we face every day.
- Sleep enhances our mood, helping us to not fall into depression.
- Sleep improves mental health – as lack of sleep is linked to mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety and more.
To ensure a healthy sleep routine, set up daily reminders for wake up, wind down and bedtime. Reserve your bed for sleep so that you do not get into the habit of using it as a place to work or to watch movies. Lastly, be mindful of the amount of daily screen time – as light can impact your body’s impulse to fall asleep on time.
How do you deal with pressure that life throws at you?
All of us deal with pressure differently – some by drinking or smoking, and others through exercise, which can be quite difficult to keep up with on a daily basis. One method of dealing with stress, even though it is not considered a traditional remedy, is meditation, a tool used by different cultures for centuries.
Meditation refers to the ability to control our thoughts and have a moment where we quiet our mind. This can take place during a morning walk, while watching a tree in a peaceful park, through exercises like yoga or pilates or simply by closing one’s eyes to listen to a favourite tune.
According to The Insider, benefits to our mental health resulting from meditation include (but are not limited to):
- Better focus and improved concentration, giving us a greater ability to process information.
- Improved self-esteem and self-awareness, giving us a chance to really recognise ourselves on a deeper level, so that we can work on issues and enhance our wellbeing in the long-run.
- Lower levels of cortisol, reducing stress significantly.
- Management of anxiety and depression, helping us focus on the present rather than the unknown, which we cannot control.
Do you have a balanced routine?
As the Christmas period begins, we look forward to relaxing and indulging in delicious and much-craved meals. Once the New Year begins, we might instead go on the hunt for advice on healthy eating and ideas for the next exercise challenge to take up.
Here are some suggestions:
- Couch to 5K – if you aren’t a runner already, this is a beginners 9 week challenge to help you reach a 5K (30 minutes) running routine.
- NHS Fitness Videos – provides us with ample videos showing us routines to follow that suit our fitness levels.
- 30 day Yoga challenge – Look up Amazon Prime or YouTube for options for 30 days challenge where you can dedicate 10 minutes of your day to stretching, and some feel-good exercise to support your mental health.
- Eat Well Guide – Eating a balanced diet can not only support your immune system, but also brings great benefits to your mental health.
Have you considered giving back?
‘Giving back’ can boost satisfaction, allowing us to feel fulfilled and happy. More importantly, it can change the life of another person, sometimes creating a ripple that can have far-reaching positive effects.
An interesting article by the American Psychological Association provides a perspective on how senior women mentoring less experienced women has become important in helping them progress further in their careers. The National Mentoring Resource Centre acknowledges the positive impact that mentoring can have on emotional and mental health, listing several advantages of taking up a mentoring/coaching programme. For instance:
- It allows women to be better prepared in dealing with challenges at work.
- It leads to women having more productive careers.
- It helps to deal with depressive symptoms effectively through sharing of techniques and expressing of feelings.
- People tend to have greater life satisfaction when they focus on the positive outcomes and receive opportunities to feel as if they have achieved something.
- People tend to look forward and have better expectations for the future.
- People generally have an increased sense of self-esteem - allowing them to have more self-belief, which in turn improves their relationships.
- People tend to have a greater sense of meaning and purpose and a larger ethnic identity as they become more self-aware.
So, are you ready to take up a positive challenge in the New Year? Whether it be a small and simple step or a massive challenge to turn your life around - what will you choose?
Interested in taking up coaching with CWN in 2021? see more
Move your career up a gear. Inspiring aspirational career women with our new coaching initiative.
When I joined the CWN Board in March this year as Vice President, I asked myself one question. “What is the impact and legacy I would like to leave behind after my tenure?” The answer is that I would like to play a key role in attracting aspirational ‘early stage career’ women to join our network. My interest in this stems from the desire to improve support for working women by removing blockers to their growth and progression, which has been a passion of mine for many years.
It is unlikely to come as a surprise to anyone that it’s been a tough year for working women.
McKinsey’s annual ‘Women in the Workplace 2020’ study shows just how disproportionately impacted women have been by the pandemic.
‘Female jobs globally are 19% more at risk than male ones, simply because more women work in negatively affected sectors. Yet even when considering women and men work in different sectors, women’s employment is dropping faster than average.’.
It’s further evidence of the urgent need to erode the barriers to gender equality – now well-documented as being better for business, the economy and society at large.
I love that CWN is more than a connection network. At its heart it is about developing women, to strengthen the chain of female leadership. That chain’s weakest link starts at an early career stage, with women losing ground at the first step up to manager.
“Women hold just 38% of manager-level positions.”
McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2020 report
McKinsey refer to this phenomenon as the “broken rung”. For every 100 men, only 85 women get promoted to manager. As a result, at the beginning of 2020, “women held just 38% of manager-level positions, while men held 62%”.
It is impossible for more women to occupy senior roles if there aren’t enough of us in the pipeline.
So, the question for CWN then becomes: What can we do to help strengthen that weak link in the chain to female leadership? We believe it starts by reaching out to women in the early stages of their career journey and making CWN’s proposition irresistible to them. In this volatile climate though, with job security and money anxieties heightened, that’s easier said than done.
One of CWN’s differentiators is that it promotes inclusion and belonging by welcoming women from a variety of sectors, from different sized organisations, and at various careers stages. While already offering exceptional value, we still want to attract those aspirational individual members.
So, we’ve been speaking with early stage career women about what would make CWN stand out and what would persuade them to join us. What they repeatedly say is they want the opportunity to see and learn from strong female role models. CWN not only brims with women successfully advanced in their careers who are excellent role models, but also qualified coaches who offer guidance and learning.
A great coach can help you harness your strengths, recognise your blind spots, and steer you confidently towards success.
“We cannot change what we are not aware of and
once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”
Sheryl Sandberg, business leader
Yet coaching is expensive and mostly beyond reach for younger, professional women. That’s unfortunate because the earlier we can help equip young women with the self-awareness, skills, and the confidence they need to progress, the more progress we will make towards female leadership.
I am an executive coach myself, with a niche for helping those in transition. Given how adversely impacted women’s careers are by this corona-induced climate, that coaching expertise is, arguably, more valuable than ever. Yet I’m far from being CWN’s only qualified coach. On our board alone our President, Uma Cresswell, and our Events Committee co-chair, Geraldine Gallagher, are also coaches.
That got us thinking about:
- Coaching’s transformative power,
- The lack of access to coaching for women early in their career, and
- How many other qualified coaches there might be within our network who would be prepared to gift some of their time to coaching new, aspirational CWN members.
We reached out to our members and the response was amazing!
This means we are now able to offer free coaching to aspirational joiners - those with 10 -12 years’ experience. We are harnessing coaching to lead by example and want to bring the next generation of female leaders up the career ladder with us. We believe this is a potential game-changer for helping fix that ‘broken rung’ and for attracting more early stage career women to CWN, so please do spread the word.
"Commencing in January 2021, our individual membership will offer our 'early stage career' joiners four free coaching sessions in their first year with one of our own qualified coaches."
If you are a qualified coach with more than 75 hours of coaching experience and are interested in getting involved but haven’t yet expressed your interest, then we’d love to hear from you. Simply email us.
Patricia Galloway is a global HR leader with two decades expertise in the banking, technology, and engineering industries. She joined CWN’s board as Vice President in March. She is a practising C-Suite Executive Coach.
2020 CWN reflections see more
A year in review from from our President Uma Cresswell, Non-Executive Director and CEO of Paradigm HR Ltd | CWN Board President
How do you even begin to find the right words to adequately reflect on 2020?
The year started off with a couple of very busy months for City Women Network. In January, we held our winter drinks at Carlton House Terrace with the superbly talented Viv Groskop as our keynote speaker. We also introduced you to our new charity partner, Wellbeing of Women (WoW).
Also in January and February, the CWN board convened for two strategy days at the offices of our corporate partner BCS Consulting to reflect on 2019, review feedback from our membership and to set priorities for 2020.
March consisted of the CWN prospective members breakfast at 1 Lombard (which was oversubscribed), the International Women’s Day event with our corporate partner Nomura (subsequently cancelled due to Covid) and our annual CWN AGM.
Looking back to my March 2020 calendar, I see entries (both personal and professional) littered with various London street names/establishments which I regularly frequented…until March the 12th when my personal ‘physical’ world of work and socialising came to an abrupt halt. Soon after this, a new language sprouted up - words such as ‘Covid-19’, ‘pandemic’ and lockdown’ were the daily headlines across all media platforms. The world of business and socialising was catapulted onto virtual platforms such as Zoom and Teams where I found myself frequently repeating ‘you’re on mute’!
As a network that had previously operated and existed entirely in the context of ‘physical’ networking and ‘in person’ events, we needed to respond quickly to this strange and uncertain world. We very successfully moved all our events to an on-line platform in a matter of days and kick-started our virtual CWN journey with our first ever remote AGM.
The CWN Board and committee members worked tirelessly to ensure that we were able to continue delivering and communicating to you, our valued membership community. It was a very exhausting and insightful few weeks as we came to terms with our ‘new norm’ and adapted to new technology and on-line event management amongst other things.
I am incredibly thankful to the CWN board and committee members for all their hard work and commitment to make this transition happen seamlessly.
This smooth transition meant that we could continue the dialogue with you, our membership community. Hearing your feedback and words of support this year has been incredibly helpful and insightful in the planning and delivering of our events.
To date, we have delivered over 31 virtual events - from fireside chats with prominent business and public figures (with our biggest attendance of approximately 400 people tuning in globally to hear from actress Caitriona Balfe), to a range of professional development events, a summer concert, topical seminars relating to working in Covid times, as well as a number of events around professional and personal wellbeing. These have been delivered both in webinar and interactive workshop format as requested by you.
Our charity partner, WoW also delivered a range of online webinars over this period that were open to all CWN members.
As you are aware, CWN is a networking community that has existed for over 42 years. I am immensely proud of how this highly spirited and resilient community has continued to thrive and grow during these challenging times. We have welcomed 26 new individual members to our network this year and at a time when we are unable to meet in person.
We are extremely grateful to our corporate partners: ANZ, BCS Consulting, Derwent London, Nomura, RBC and Wipro and would like to extend our thanks and gratitude for all their incredible support.
As we look ahead to 2021, we are planning our schedule of future events whilst keeping in mind our theme of Wellbeing, including personal, physical, career and financial wellbeing. We look forward to the time when we can welcome you back in person - when it is safe to do so. That will be some reunion and we will celebrate accordingly!
We may wish to put many aspects of 2020 behind us and there are not enough words to describe the myriad of emotions that we have experienced this year - uncertainty, isolation, despair, fear, loss. But also, collaboration, support, tolerance, understanding and kindness.
This year, we have had to hit the pause button on much of our pre-Covid life. However, 2020 has also provided us with the opportunity to reflect and I am reminded of the wise words of the American author, columnist and businessman Dov Seidman (founder of Legal Research Network):
“When you hit the pause button on a machine, it stops. But when you press the pause button on human beings, they start. You start to reflect, you start to rethink your assumptions, you start to reimagine what is possible and, most importantly, you start to reconnect with your most deeply held beliefs. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to reimagine a better path.”
On behalf of CWN, I would like to wish you good health and peace of mind as we enter the festive season and firmly close the door on 2020.
We look forward to reconnecting with you in 2021.
CWN shares the highs & lows of the pandemic, insights from Amy Davies and upcoming events see more
CWN News Summer 2020: pandemic perspectives, member spotlight and future events
Since our last newsletter, we have all had to find different ways to navigate our professional and personal lives during the lockdown period and the subsequent relaxation of some restrictions. Many of us will have faced hardships as well as positive moments. Movements have been created, such as Black Lives Matter or some organisations, such as the PRIDE, have continued to build momentum despite not being able to hold their annual celebrations. What they have in common is that they all remind us of the importance of equality and inclusivity, which is at the heart of CWN’s purpose. With that in mind, we have asked a few members to share their professional and personal perspectives on COVID-19. We also continue our focus on members with our regular ‘spotlight on’ feature. In this issue, Amy Davies shares how she started the second phase of her successful career by securing a VP role at Autonomous after a 15-year employment sabbatical.
Hopefully you will have seen and experienced our fresh approach to helping our members to connect and learn, by moving all of our events onto an online platform – we have received wonderful feedback around the quality and variety of events to date. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible so quickly and seamlessly. Do remember that we have created an ‘Online Academy’ so you can watch these events at your convenience simply by logging in with your username and password. We’ve also included a list of events in the diary from September onwards. As always, there is a wide range of topics and speakers to look forward to.
We are looking forward to when we can all meet in person again, particularly our new members who have joined the network over the past few months. Some of those have joined following the change in our membership criteria to include professionals with ten years’ experience. This change means that we are now able to support the development and advancement of aspirational females to help them achieve their goals. If you have anyone in your network that would benefit from joining CWN, then please do share with them details on how they can get involved.
We were hoping to be able to hold our annual summer drinks event in central London as our social events are an important date in the calendar for us all to connect and catch up. Unfortunately, large gatherings of more than 30 people are still prohibited so instead, we were delighted that Lucy Crowe was the highlight of our summer soiree event on the 15 July. It was a wonderful way for us to relax with beautiful music to soothe us into summer. It rounded up a fantastic array of online events that has resulted in charitable donations in excess of £8,000 for our charity partner, Wellbeing of Women. They have asked us to extend their thanks to everyone for supporting them during a very challenging few months and we have included an update on their progress.
In the meantime, whatever your circumstances may be, we hope each of you manages to take some time out of your usual routine and to find time to relax over the summer.
Articles in this issue:
Next Events see more
As we approach the summer period, City Women Network will take a well-earned break and we will recommence our thought-provoking webinars and online events program in September. Why not catch up on any events you may have missed by accessing recordings of prior events available through our online academy.
Our first event after the summer break is on the 9 September, 12:30 - 1:30pm BST: Banishing Burnout Webinar
Did you know that 96% of leaders experience some degree of burnout? Applied Positive Psychology researcher and CWN member Charlotte Wiseman will share her pioneering research into CEO burnout and leadership wellbeing.
23 September, 12.00 - 2.00pm BST: RADA Masterclass: Creativity during Uncertainty Workshop
Our speaker Kate Walker Miles (trained at RADA and has a degree in Experimental Psychology from Oxford University) takes us through a series of fun, fast paced, high-energy games and exercises where delegates will be shown how to take risks, let go of fear and enter into a creative frame when working with colleagues.
13 October, 12:30 - 1:30pm BST: Cultivating Positive Mental Health Webinar
In the UK, 1 in 4 people experience mental illness every year, showing the importance of equipping ourselves on how to best respond to support someone in need. Join CWN member and Mental Health First Aid trainer, Charlotte Wiseman, for this interactive webinar to learn skills to look after your own wellbeing and promote positive mental health in your community, workplace and home.
CWN & Wellbeing of Women update members on fundraising, COVID-19 pregnancy research & recent events. see more
CWN raises over £8,000 for Wellbeing of Women during pandemic
Wellbeing of Women would like to thank City Women Network for their generous contributions and continued support over the last couple of months. Together we have raised over £8,000 in the first 6 months of our partnership.
Wellbeing of Women’s medical research has been impacted by COVID-19 as many of their researchers have been called upon by the NHS to help on the frontline. Despite the difficulties that they have faced, they have persevered and done a sterling job. They will shortly be announcing details of research they are funding related to COVID-19 and pregnancy and they responded quickly to the pandemic by providing information for pregnant women - both online and through a webinar available here.
They have a stunning new website and have seen an increase in attendance of their online fundraising events. As the number of COVID infections has now decreased, many of their researchers have now also resumed their projects. Wellbeing of Women have shown that positivity and commitment go a long way.
Their latest webinar in which they are talking to Luce Brett, author of PMSL: Or How I Literally Pissed Myself Laughing and Survived the Last Taboo to Tell the Tale and Elaine Miller a women’s health physiotherapist, is a hilariously open but also vital conversation about living with incontinence and is available here. Their next event about Gynae Cancer Awareness will be in September (details will be confirmed on their website).
Adriana Tatcheva, CWN Marketing and Communications Committee
CWN explores the pandemic’s impact on virtual working, innovation, adaptability and mental wellbeing see more
Life after COVID-19: a journey of growth & transformation
Six months ago, we could not have imagined a face mask as an indispensable accessory, plants on a tiny balcony being critical to our wellbeing or the easing of lockdown measures to feel like a giant leap for humanity.
All this, however, is microscopic compared to the radical transformation in government policy, modern society, organisational strategy and even personal philosophy stemming from COVID-19.
To explore these shifts, City Women Network (CWN) asked some of its members about their experiences with change in the workplace and their professional and personal lives.
Virtual working is the new norm
In the past, few companies dipped a toe into flexible working, allowing employees the occasional day at home when absolutely necessary. Now, the Work from Home (WFH) culture is firmly in place, with Zoom becoming the lifeblood of connectivity.
“COVID-19 has proven that virtual teaming works. Most roles can be flexible, and we are more adaptable and agile than we ever imagined. We will look at role requirements differently in the future. We’ve always enabled flexibility (home working), post COVID this will become the norm for many of our people.” Anne-Marie Balfe, CWN board member and EMEIA Financial Services Talent Leader at EY.
“People will likely choose WFH where possible so organisations will need to apply more flexibility towards work arrangements. Office spaces might be reconsidered from a wellbeing, cost and environment perspective. I can see my working location evolving and I will probably split my time equally between home and the office. Saving on the daily commute time would make such a difference in quality time spent with family.” Bobby Charalambous, Head of Operational Risk, Europe at ANZ.
Creating a space for fresh opportunities
For some, this crisis has become an opportunity to innovate. For example, doctors' offices now provide primary care through telemedicine. The need for entertainment led to virtual tours in museums and concerts streamed online. There have been interesting developments in education, delivery and logistics and mental health among others.
“COVID-19 exacerbated existing pressures on services, with a huge impact on the most vulnerable families. Supported by funding from the Department for Education we developed a membership service called Kinship Response. Since its April launch, we have doubled the number of local authorities we work with. We now operate in two thirds of the London boroughs, taking giant leaps towards our vision of enabling kinship carers to access support at home. It's given us a platform to develop a broader network of local authority partners, build regional frameworks and communities of support to offer a truly national reach for our services.” Kate O’Brien, Director of Business Development and Programmes at Grandparents Plus.
“Being a mental health first aider, I was quite concerned about the impact of isolation on people’s mental and physical wellbeing, so I devised and now distribute a regular mental health newsletter to my Europe colleagues, each edition focusing on a specific subject. So far, we have covered Depression, Anxiety, Domestic Violence, Bereavement and PTSD.” Bobby Charalambous.
“I used to target my financial and professional services clients geographically, working mainly for organisations in the City and Canary Wharf. I’ve come to realise that a client’s location really doesn’t matter as we can easily have briefing sessions and progress meetings online. So, from now on, my clients can be based anywhere in the UK – or, indeed, the English-speaking world.” Carole Seawert of Carole Seawert Copywriting.
Having to adapt to change
Perhaps the most challenging issue has been navigating uncharted territory. Workplace policies have never needed a “what to do in case of a pandemic” section and as a result, people’s professional attitudes have had to adapt to this new situation.
“I’ve been able to challenge and rethink what’s possible, and how we deliver high quality and efficient service to our clients. I’ve focused on inspiring and motivating my team, and being an authentic leader. I share highs and the lows, the joys and struggles of work and home-schooling with my team! It has also made me focus on my own needs and what I really value.” Anne-Marie Balfe.
“One of the things the pandemic has made me realise is that I will now be more open to change. So many everyday things that we took for granted were taken away from us during lockdown: meeting a friend for coffee; visiting an art gallery; going for a swim – to name but three. I always regarded myself as a creature of habit but, since our lives have been turned upside down, we’ve had to learn to do things differently. And when you embrace change (rather than resist it), you get to experience all manner of new things.” Carole Seawert.
I have learned to be more versatile and flexible to ensure that I stay connected locally and globally and continue to work well with people. Going forward, it will be important to stay relevant and up to date with market changes. WFH will be an extension of my office so there should be little difference, just with virtual meetings, phone calls and a few caveats.” Bobby Charalambous.
Redefining personal coping mechanisms
One of the challenges of working from home is the blurring of lines between work and home-life. A full day of work has to be combined with educating kids, preparing meals, connecting with family and self-care.
“It took a few weeks to balance school work, preparing meals and to find time to exercise, but being furloughed, my husband was able to assist. I have become more patient, things that would ordinarily bother me, no longer do. It is very easy to set unrealistic goals on what you should or should not be doing during lockdown. For example, I am not a qualified teacher so I did what I could with my daughter and if she didn’t complete all her work, that was ok too (she is only 4!).” Bobby Charalambous.
“The pandemic brought into focus elements that are within (and outside) of my control. The initial lockdown generated a lot of stress and anxiety, and I struggled with boundaries between work and home life. So I focused on things within my control - a daily run, limiting news and social media, and spending time with my family. I developed relationships with my neighbours to support those who were isolating, and now we are a community like never before.” Anne-Marie Balfe.
“I’ve learned that I’m much more resilient than I thought. On top of being cooped up, client projects that I was working on - or about to start on - all went on hold so there was no cash flow. To add to the stress, there were two family deaths within four months. Despite all this, I’ve coped much better than I ever thought I would and have managed, somehow, to keep a positive frame of mind. Carole Seawert.
“Prior to the pandemic I travelled a lot so it's been really nice to spend more time together as a family. I will definitely prioritise that going forward, as well as spending much more time outdoors. I have a new appreciation for the things on my doorstep - I set up a street WhatsApp group and we still meet weekly to see how everyone's doing. Good neighbours are important, never more so than during a pandemic!” Kate O’Brien.
The pandemic has stretched us, teaching us more about who we are, how we function and what is most important. Things like family, the outdoors, travel and spontaneity cannot be taken for granted. Hopefully lessons learned will be embedded and carried into the next chapter of our lives.
How has the pandemic shaped you?
Preeti Bonthron and Parminder Dhillon, CWN Marketing and Communications Committee
Amy Davies, VP at Autonomous/Alliance Bernstein on second careers, art & working during lockdown see more
Spotlight on Amy Davies
Amy Davies reminds us how it is possible to have not one but two successful careers. After a 15-year career break, Amy is now VP at Autonomous/Alliance Bernstein. She shares her top tips on securing your ideal job even when it might seem a remote possibility, her love of art and delivering client work during lockdown.
What do you do/what's your typical day?
As a VP in Equity Product Sales for Autonomous/Alliance Bernstein, my role is to market the research output published by our sell-side analysts to new and existing clients globally. Managing 40 accounts means I engage with all aspects of the business including analysts, sales, compliance and the accounts teams. My responsibilities are varied and involve pitching to clients, supporting new and existing clients as well as writing a weekly newsletter to highlight recently published work.
How did your career in financial services come about?
After a successful career in Equity Sales for three investment banks I started a family and flexible working was not an option. Once my three children were all in secondary school, it felt like a ‘now or never’ opportunity. I heard of a number of returner programs and a push to get women back into financial services to help improve the gender balance. After a 15-year gap, I found my position through The Return Hub four years ago.
What were the biggest hurdles you faced returning to work and securing a job? How did you overcome them?
Having talked to many colleagues, most women feel a loss of confidence in their abilities after having children and a career break. It is very common to think “who would want me” after such a big absence, but we all still have the skills we developed in our career, so I think the biggest hurdle is the procrastination. The work/life balance was also a concern when I returned to work. I was not sure how it would impact our family life. I think it is easy to be hard on yourself as a woman and try to do it all, so I found there were things I had to let go of and in most cases the family didn’t even notice! Juggling commitments will always be there, but I’ve found solutions to problems and try to make sure that I don’t overthink it.
Do you have any top tips you can share to help other women returning to work?
I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to a “Returner” by an old colleague. She told me to contact as many connections as possible to ask them about their positions as it may be that a delineation of your previous career might suit better. It also helps to brush up on your skills. I am lucky enough to like technology and I had a good understanding of all the office software. To supplement that, I took some online courses as a refresher. Most workplaces offer developmental training which I would recommend taking full use of.
What do you find useful about the CWN?
I think some of the “Returner” programmes offer a lot of structure; my own experience was a bit more "hit the ground running" in hindsight. So, I looked at Women’s networks to join in the hope to meet people to talk to and share experiences. I haven’t been as active as I would have liked as we were acquired by a larger firm (Alliance Bernstein) a year ago, but, I have really enjoyed the events I have attended and talking to an impressive variety of ladies.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is my interest in contemporary art forged by going to a Young British Artist show back in the 90’s. After the birth of my first child, I scratched an itch and completed a contemporary art diploma. When I returned to the city, I realised that I would have to give up being a volunteer ‘Tate Modern Guide’ which I loved and still miss. Lockdown has been really interesting as many galleries have opened virtually and I have been watching inspiring programs on art. Frieze in the USA was cancelled so instead they have a virtual show, which I am enjoying. BBC iPlayer has a behind the Museums series which is fascinating.
What would you say to encourage others to spend more time with art?
I am time-poor but it is important to have moments away from family and work. I really enjoy my art viewing as it feels so removed from financial services, I also make time to play club tennis and catch up with friends.
Which is your favourite art gallery to visit in person?
I worked at Tate Modern for nine years, initially as a Visitor Experience Volunteer and then as a Guide. I met the most fascinating and committed volunteers from all walks of life. I was there for the unveiling of the new extension and the 24 hours opening event. If I need to get away from everything, I visit there for an amble amongst the collections.
What have you missed the most during lockdown?
Lockdown has been extraordinary, I am sure like many of us, I cannot quite believe it has happened. I have been working as before in my role but remotely. Juggling everything has been a challenge but I really can’t complain about my own experience. We had a Work Girls Night Out which was great fun and I realise how much I miss seeing my colleagues and hearing their stories.
What’s the first thing you want to do once we know it’s safe not to stay at home?
I can’t wait to see my family, my mother is elderly with underlying health issues so we have had to stay away.
What are you reading (or watching) right now?
I am reading Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell and I am binge-watching Normal People (BBC), which is excellent. My children made me watch Tiger King (Netflix), which is extraordinary, and they constantly quote from the show.
Amy Davies was talking to Ana Pacheco, Co-chair of the CWN Marketing & Communications Committee.