A quick roundup of events that have taken place so far this year see more
As we write this newsletter, Boris Johnson has just confirmed that the coronavirus roadmap is on track and life can take that step closer to being allowed to see more people in a variety of group sizes, both indoors and outdoors. We are monitoring the situation closely and keeping in touch with our members to judge when people feel comfortable to return to face-to-face events. Online events have shown us that a network can still continue to thrive in a virtual platform, but the best networking is often done face-to-face so we are working towards bringing you back together. We are only planning virtual events over the next few months, with at least one face-to-face event before the year end, maybe more. We plan to keep a number of events virtually throughout this year, perhaps into next year…...watch this space!
The events diary for the next few months features a number of well-known external speakers that feature regularly in our calendar, namely Warwick Business School, WomenOnBoards and RADA. Our focus is on continuous personal development through mastering your leadership style, what to be aware of if you are considering a NED role, strategic thinking and gender equality. The speakers will be demonstrating the importance of these tools whether you are within a large organisation or part of a small team / sole employee.
As we continue to build our connections within CWN, we also have more member meet ups and courageous conversations coming up, looking at financial wellbeing and intersectionality, respectively.
We are kindly invited to learn more from our charity partner WOW, so look out for their events on the weekly emails – often these events have a short notice period.
What else have we been up to? Here is a quick recap of our recent events – the recorded versions are found in the library within the Members Area of the website.
The events held so far this year have enabled members and committees to take the time to reflect on last year’s triumphs, as well as difficulties and share priorities for this year. Where possible, we have been adding in more breakout rooms to meet and connect with other CWN members. We made a splash at the start of the year with members Nicola Foster of Lido Ladies fame!
We also shone a spotlight on our charity partner, Wellbeing of Women, as they reflected on the highs and lows of adapting to the pandemic.
The second Member Meetup focused on our mental health including tips to strengthen the immune system, improve sleep, reduce stress and combat depression with more long-term effectiveness than antidepressants.
The Future Minds event looked at how we can implement the necessary practices in supporting teens and graduates as they move into the workplace.
Our International Women’s Day event looked at the 2021 theme #ChooseToChallenge. We shared the CWN’s own inclusion journey, speaking candidly with our Inclusion and Belonging committee. In April we hosted our first event in the Courageous Conversation series, with the sensitive topic of domestic violence. Our panel event centred around the heart-breaking memoir from author and human rights campaigner Saurav Dutt and Mrs Daksha Dalal, whose daughter took her own life, at just 25 as a result of suffering years of abuse from an ex-partner. The issues raised provided insight into the signs of abuse or violence and how to ask for education on healthy and unhealthy relationships. We followed this up with a pre-recorded session with Sue Hunt, an expert on supporting large Corporate companies with how to engage and provide an environment where employees can spot, or support the survivors of abuse.
We have also spoken to Declutter Dollies to get her top tips for creating the ultimate organisation to help with working from home. If you missed it, we recommend you tune into our Fashion panel event that looked at expected fashion trends as we return to normal life and what some of these amazing brands are doing around sustainability.
The Email Attraction event was very popular where we learnt that less is more – short, sharp emails with a clear ‘call to action’ helps to get results. And Warwick Business School taught us their top tips for being a leader of today and tomorrow, navigating through these unusual times. If you would like to see a topic in our events diary, please email our admin team.
What does the HR landscape look like post-lockdown? see more
HR landscape post-lockdown by Anne-Marie Balfe, EMEIA Financial Services Talent Leader for EY and CWN Membership and Partnerships Committee Chair
Anne-Marie Balfe, the EMEIA Financial Services Talent Leader for EY and CWN Membership and Partnerships Committee Chair provides us with an insight into how the HR landscape within the UK has been impacted by the COVID pandemic and what we can expect it to shaped to following post-lockdown. In her more than 20 years of international human resources experience, Anne-Marie has worked in recruitment, learning and development, organizational development, performance management and diversity and inclusiveness.
As we emerge from lockdown across the UK, within Talent (HR) we’ve been focused on several priorities. First and foremost, our key focus has been on the health and wellbeing of our employees. For the past 14 months our people have been working almost exclusively from home. We’ve seen an increased level of productivity across our business, however, with it also increased fatigue and burnout. To support our people, we’ve introduced additional wellbeing programs, encouraging managers to have meeting free days, and asking people to take annual leave to recharge.
Now as lockdown restrictions ease, we are focussing on return to office planning, and what that will look like for our employees. The last 12 months have demonstrated that knowledge work can be delivered very effectively in a virtual setting. Tools such as Zoom, Teams, Slack have facilitated teaming in a virtual environment. However, at the same time we understand the need for a physical space for collaboration and innovation. Onboarding and training new team members and establishing new teams or work groups is becoming harder to accomplish virtually. Consideration needs to be given to this new workspace – more space for collaboration and group activity.
The COVID pandemic has enabled us to reimagine how work is delivered and the policies we have in place. Many organisations are looking to new hybrid working models, a combination of working from home and office (1:4; 2:3 etc). We’re considering how organisations can approach flexibility for their employees. We are considering questions like Can you provide full flexibility, a more structured approach, or possibly a combination of both? Are you attempting to promote collaboration, teaming, innovation? All these factors need to be carefully considered based on the type of work (routine, independent, collaborative etc), and the teams.
To gain a further insight, CWN asks Anne-Marie a few questions:
How has the lockdown shaped recruitment overall, and what can we expect to see in the near future?
In the first few months of COVID, we slowed, and in some cases paused recruitment activity, this was coupled with a significant slowdown in turnover. Like many organisations we gradually restarted in Q3/Q4, with a focus on effective virtual onboarding of employees. Since the beginning of 2021 the financial services and professional services are seeing an increase in recruitment activity as the UK begins to emerge from the pandemic.
There has been a report produced by Mckinsey & Company on gender inequality and Covid-19 effects - showcasing that women have had the most hardship in dealing with economic difficulties:
At the onset of working from home, there was a belief that this would “level the playing field” for women in the workforce. We soon realised that Work from Home has very different impacts on people depending on their circumstances. Women have shouldered the burden of home schooling, caring and additional domestic responsibility, and we’ve seen a significant increase in women leaving the workforce in many sectors and across many countries. We’ve also seen junior employees struggle with inadequate workspace in shared accommodation, and higher numbers struggling with mental health issues, stress, burnout, and loneliness.
Now with lockdown measures easing, can women expect a more positive outcome of more opportunities emerging or is it now they can expect to face a larger competition as recruitment efforts are seeking for employees globally?
With lockdown measures easing, organisations have restarted their recruitment efforts. The pandemic has proven that roles that be flexible and changed the way we view look at the workplace and teaming. With an increased focus on finding the right talent, this will present interesting opportunities with greater flexibility for employees. However, the pandemic has also accelerated transformation in many organisations, with more processing being automated or moved offshore.
What are the top key tips you can give to the women who are looking to go kickstart their job search?
As a member of CWN please leverage the network to support your job search through networking and professional development. Consider your broader network, can they introduce you, or support you in your job search? There is a wealth of online learning available, use this time to further develop your skillset. CWN provides access to lectures from Warick Business School and our Courageous Conversation series provides support and content to assist you within your working environment. Employers look for people who demonstrate the ability to learn and re-learn throughout their career.
What are the top key tips you can give to recruiters to ensure equal opportunities are considered during recruitment efforts?
To ensure that equal opportunities are provided to all candidates, I ask recruiters to review the job descriptions to ensure the language is inclusive and encourages applications from a diverse range of candidates.
Research suggests that female executives take longer to change jobs, so it might take more work to encourage/persuade a female executive to apply for another role. This takes work on the part of the recruiter, and the prospective employer.
Additionally, I ask that every shortlist is diverse, with a focus on Gender and Ethnicity. If the shortlist is all male, it’s not a shortlist.
What can we expect in life after Post Lockdown? see more
CWN Newsletter Spring 2021 - What can we expect in life after Post Lockdown?
Although we have passed the one-year anniversary of the first UK national lockdown, we can now feel a glimmer of hope as over 46 million people in the UK have been vaccinated and lockdown restrictions continue to ease. Many of us are looking forward to the prospect of starting to meet family and friends again and feeling some sense of normality. For a few, there remains a sense of unease around what life in the world of work will look like; especially for those who have enjoyed the comforts of working from home or who have faced the negative impacts of the pandemic such as redundancies or loss of employment.
In this newsletter we are introducing a different approach to our content. We have worked with experts from within our membership to provide us with their outlook on what post-pandemic life might look like. Let us know what you think - whether there are topics you would like us to consider, or content you would like to collaborate on.
This newsletter will cover:
Anne-Marie Balfe, the EMEIA Financial Services Talent Leader for EY and CWN Membership and Partnerships Committee Chair provides us with an insight into how the HR landscape within the UK has been impacted by the COVID pandemic and what we can expect it to shaped to following post-lockdown. To read the rest of the blog, click here.
How organisations like BCS have adapted their culture during the pandemic? We put a spotlight on our member Jane Olds and ask questions on how her organisation’s culture has been shaped to cope with the challenges faced due to the pandemic. Click here for the full article.
What are your post-pandemic health goals? During the lockdown, a lot of us have gone through a health kick and really taken time to take care of health and wellbeing. Now with everything going back to normality, there is a chance a lot of us will put health at the bottom of the list. Read what Wellbeing of Women tells us about the concerns we need to consider and some tips on what we can do to refocus on our health.
MarComms are excited to announce the launch of the highly anticipated CWN members-only podcast, coming in H2 of 2021. Expect a monthly episode on popular themes such as mental health, being a working parent and life in the post-Covid era. The idea of the podcast is to engage and celebrate our wonderful CWN network and we will be giving all members a chance to contribute to episodes on the topic(s) of their choice. If you are interested in participating, simply respond to the Survey Monkey questionnaire that will be landing in your inbox shortly! Also, take full advantage of your membership with our thought-provoking webinars this year. With a full and varied programme devised to support you. Read our latest summary on key points and take away from our latest event
Reprioritising your health as life returns to normal see more
It’s been a year since we first had to adjust to pandemic life. From spring 2020, we became accustomed to a world of homemade lunches and Zoom instead of inner-city face-to-face meetings, but also found ourselves losing access to the things that help us stay healthy both physically and mentally, from the gym to seeing our friends and family.
Indeed, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women’s health. We have struggled to access basic health services such as face-to-face GP appointments, but also vital tests such as cervical cancer screening: Almost a third of women who missed a vital cervical cancer check in the last year skipped the screening due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So, as the world slowly reopens and we resume (to some degree) our normal lives, it’s as important as ever to put our health first, from booking that gym class to paying attention to our bodies when they give us signs something could be wrong.
It may not immediately seem cause for alarm, but unusual vaginal bleeding – which could be bleeding outside your period, or after menopause – is one thing that is always worth investigating with your GP. Though it’s unlikely, it can be a symptom of various gynaecological cancers, so it’s important to check just in case.
At Wellbeing of Women, we believe putting in putting your health first but also, as a society, putting women’s health first too. Despite women being 51% of the population, just 2.1% of publicly funded research is invested in women’s reproductive health and childbirth.
This is why we continue to invest in research that will find new treatments for poorly understood women’s health conditions, from gynaecological cancers to wellbeing issues such as incontinence and menopause.
For example, Wellbeing of Women researcher, Dr Sarah McClelland, is looking into how to prevent ovarian cancer from becoming resistant to chemotherapy. Ovarian cancer is currently the deadliest gynaecological cancer in the Western world; initially, women who have it find that treatment works – but it often comes back resistant to treatment. Dr McClelland’s project could find ways to stop that happening and save thousands of women’s lives.
We are also investing in research to help at-risk babies live happy, healthy lives. For example, Dr Ashley Boyle is investigating how bacteria causes brain damage in premature babies – which can lead them to have cerebral palsy and other health issues, or even tragically lose their lives – and what we need to know to better protect them from it.
If you believe it is time women’s health got the attention it deserves then why not join a fundraising challenge for Wellbeing of Women! They have guaranteed places in the London Marathon and the Royal Parks Half, both taking place in October, or speak to a member of the team to choose your own challenge. Email Zamira to find out more.
If you’re not ready to commit to a fundraising challenge but would like to support their work, you can donate online here.
All fundraising and donations support vital research into women’s health, from conditions like endometriosis to preventing premature birth to supporting women going through menopause.
How organisations like BCS have adapted their culture during the pandemic see more
Continuing in the series ‘How has the pandemic shaped us today?’ Jane Olds, HR Director at BCS Consulting reflects on how the Company’s culture has supported the business through the pandemic, and how it’s proving to be a key driver of the firm’s continued success in the new world of work.
Hi Jane, perhaps we could start with a quick introduction?
Hi Imogen, yes of course, and let me start by saying how delighted I am to be part of this newsletter for CWN. My HR career spans over 20 years now, and has included working with large corporates as well as small, family run businesses. I joined BCS in 2019 with previous experience of the financial services industry but not consulting, so the first few months involved a steep learning curve, not least because BCS is an employee-owned organisation which was also new to me.
Tell us a little bit about working at BCS… how did you manage employees through the transition to remote working?
To answer that question, you need a bit of context. BCS moved to an employee ownership model in 2018 for many reasons, one of which was to protect the strong and supportive culture that everyone here loves so much. When the pandemic took-off and the time came to shift our whole business to a remote working model, I firmly believe that our collaborative and unique culture was to thank for the ease and success of the transition.
As you would imagine for a consulting and software firm, many of our team are consultants who are well used to working in a flexible and fluid way and that meant the transition to home working was relatively seamless. That is not to say that a lack of space or finding suitable working environments at home was easy for many in our team, but the concept of working remotely wasn’t a new one.
Our first action was to prioritise support for employees to purchase any equipment they needed to make their physical workspace at home better. From the outset, we focused on supporting employees’ health and wellbeing, while keeping a focus on their engagement and maintaining our highly interactive, community culture too. It wasn’t always easy of course – we’re a very social bunch and our people really began to miss this part of the jigsaw.
Yes, lack of work interactions was and still is, a big issue for lots of people. Can you talk us through some of the initiatives BCS instigated to make up for it?
As well as advising our managers to prioritise regular catch ups with their people and teams, quizzes soon became regular all company events along with virtual coffee catch ups. Some of the innovative activities we introduced to maintain motivation levels included hosting an online Awards Evening with a ‘live chat’ function as well as running a virtual ‘Big BCS Get Together’ at Christmas which saw people move between different ‘virtual club and team rooms’ to catch up with colleagues and friends they hadn’t seen in a while. On both occasions we sent everyone a ‘Just Eat’ voucher to splurge on the takeaway of their choice to enjoy during the event or whenever it suited them. These events took a lot of time and effort to lay on, but the feedback was incredible, and our people really appreciated what we were doing. The vouchers were a massive hit too!
In addition to virtual events, we also refocused our priorities from a performance management perspective. We dialled down the usual focus on performance reviews and increased our focus on prioritising the health and wellbeing of our team. The brief to managers was to do everything they could to reduce the pressure on our people to work and perform in exactly the same way as they did before Covid struck. This was especially true for those that were suddenly being faced with childcare, home schooling and other caring duties on top of their day job.
We also revised annual holiday policies; we understood why people were taking less time off, but we also knew how important taking regular breaks and down-time would be to minimising the potential for burnout. Regular surveys helped us to understand how everyone was coping and identify who was most under pressure from factors such as needing to shield. This provided us with vital information on what support was needed and where, and really helped us to plan ahead in terms of potential changes in work lifestyle.
And what about new joiners… how are you making sure everyone feels welcome?
For new joiners, the start of their journey with BCS has been very different to the usual experience and that’s why we moved heaven and earth to ensure they have a great induction into the business.
From an HR perspective, we obviously speak to new joiners ahead of their onboarding to ensure equipment has arrived and they are all ready to go. We also make sure we only have one or two people starting on the same day so that everyone has enough time and opportunity to ask questions and catch up with our leadership team individually during their first week. Our induction process was also adapted and lengthened to ensure new employees have time they need to view all the new online learning materials that would have usually been talked through face to face and digest ahead of starting a new engagement. Feedback suggests this has made a huge difference.
One of the things that makes BCS so unique are all the clubs and societies that are part of our all-inclusive, diverse community. Finding others with the same interests and hobbies as is a great way to encourage new joiners to get socialising and settle in quickly. As well as helping them meet others, we also provide a network of ways for new joiners to get to grips quickly with their role and the business via their “Buddy”, Line Manager and introductions to other leaders in the business. All in all, I think we do a pretty good job of providing opportunities for people to feel welcome, learn about BCS, our ethos and the everyday ‘norms’ that we believe make it such an outstanding place to work.
So, what happens next Jane? Are BCS planning for their teams to return to the office five days a week as before?
At the beginning of Lockdown, we mobilised our “Incident Management Committee” (IMC) made up of a number of senior leaders. The committee was already in place, it just hadn’t been called into action before. Once mobilised, the team met (and continue to meet) weekly to discuss ongoing events and update our SharePoint Hub so that all employees have the latest business plans and insights relating to Covid-19. Our main focus at IMC is to discuss any current issues as well as what the future of work at BCS looks like moving forward.
We have all learned that we can operate efficiently and effectively, remotely. That said, we also understand that many of our people are keen to return to the office, albeit not on a full-time basis. I expect BCS to move to a hybrid model of working like so many other firms, with our office space being used mainly for team collaboration and get-togethers. Time in the office will be spent in team meetings, briefings and training, with desk work conducted largely at home. It remains to be seen where our clients want us to work but, wherever it is, we’ll be ready.
Jane, are there specific tactics or operational structures that work well and you think will remain?
The IMC has been a great central structure allowing for centralised strategic reaction. Sharing tactical, open communication via our SharePoint Hub has also worked well – including everything from tips on homeworking to reminders about our medical care, Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and how to lead ‘Walk and Talk’ meetings. Our IMC is seeing the future of work debate as an opportunity to unlock ways to achieve greater wellbeing and work life balance for our employees that will only enhance our inclusive and authentic culture, whilst remaining a commercial operation.
What are your reflections on the last year Jane? What positive or negative outcomes have there been for BCS and its people?
We are at the beginning of conversations around what the next phase for our employees will be. I do know that it will be an iterative process where we will continue to listen and learn but, ultimately, this is an opportunity to establish a better way to work with far-reaching improvements to efficiency and work/life balance to be had.
One key reflection I have on the year just gone is around the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that occurred in early 2020 in the US and the UK. It triggered a huge conversation at BCS and I think, combined with Covid anxiety, homeworking and the lack of social interaction, the outpouring of support was huge and I was delighted by the way our BCS community stood together on this subject.
As a result, we fast-tracked the planned launch of our BAME Network, with our Women’s Network taking shape soon after joining our more established LGBTQ+ Network. These groups came together to share their knowledge and experiences with the wider team which has proved enormously engaging and successful. It seems incredible to think that during such a difficult time these, and many other initiatives were born and have become central to the future of BCS.
Jane, thank you so much for your time, and for sharing these great initiatives and the positive legacy that the last year will leave on BCS. A lot to think about, thank you!
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.
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.