SSP celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday 9 March across their UK and global offices.
The theme this year was #EachforEqual so SSP decided the day would be best spent celebrating the personal achievements of our female colleagues, raising awareness against gender bias, and to recognise our own strengths, encouraging everyone to feel empowered and confident in who they are.
It began with the opportunity to network over breakfast. As there were many different departments coming together, it was the perfect time for some colleagues to see others face to face – some they may not have met before.
Jemma McKenzie, SSP’s HR Director gave a warm welcome to the SSP ladies. To ease everyone into the day’s schedule, the first ice-breaker was a fun quiz about women in SSP and famous females from around the world, nicely followed with a session of recognising the hard-working female talent and trailblazers across the whole of SSP.
To intersperse the upcoming talks, we had a #METOO teatime energiser. This involved all standing in a circle, saying a statement/fact about yourself, such as ‘I have a son’ then the person who also has this in common shouted, ‘METOO’ and then the string would be thrown to them. They follow the same process until each lady in the group has caught the ball of string. It just shows how we’re all connected in some way to the other people we work with.
Adrian Brown, SSP’s Non-Executive Director shared some personal stories of women he’d worked with and mentored, emphasising how important mentoring can be for development. He gave advice based on those women’s success stories and offered some tips on how we can raise our own profiles without becoming victims of female prejudice. He also added how he, and these female peers have managed their work/life balance in society and overcome their own personal weaknesses. Adrian’s top tips encompassed how we can all use our own self-confidence to be who we want to be/become; that women need to speak out to make change happen and how we should always try to think about our own personal career development plan. He finished with emphasising the importance of motivating ourselves into thinking and planning where we want to be – all the time remembering who we are and reinforcing that we don’t need to act like anyone else to succeed.
We then welcomed one of our key partners, Jasvinder Gakhal, Director of Commercial Direct at Direct Line Group, who spoke about female empowerment in the industry. Jasvinder had some very interesting things to say around how to turn negatives into positives and how to deal with complex situations or scenarios that are challenging. She also talked about not falling victim to your own setbacks. She said that while it is OK to wallow a little, you need to step back and think about the outcome. Your reaction to setbacks is what will impact your personal brand. Jazz used examples of how personal branding can help, both at work and your personal life, she was a keen advocate of the importance of creating our own branding if we haven’t already. It’s a transferable skill that can be used in networking; use your personal descriptors with others and they will soon start saying the same things about you and help carry your brand further.
At the beginning of the day, Jemma shared a stat that: “88% of women are impacted by the Imposter Syndrome”. To combat this feeling, Jazz advised that practising and learning your personal brand descriptive words will help build your confidence and help to move past the feeling of not being good enough. She also said it was good to think about those experiences where you have used your leadership skills and understand what you learned from each situation/role. In doing so, you can see what positives you can take forward for your appraisal or for a future role/interview scenario.
This flowed perfectly into a Personal Branding workshop run by SSP colleagues; Chantal Rutherford, Zoe Ridley, Rachel Green and Pooja Bhatia. They continued the conversation with thoughtful exercises to help build individual personal statements. Whilst some people may struggle to confidently talk about their own strengths, the session leaders paired the ladies off to discuss how we would describe each other to help us see ourselves in a whole new light and recommended that we do this with people we’re close to so we truly know what our brand is. It was eye opening, confidence boosting and led to several smiles around the rooms.
To close the afternoon, SSP’s HR department, Fiona Morales, Julie Terry and Nibedita Chakraborty brought to the foreground how we’ve unconsciously and consciously shaped the way we view the world. Thinking about our closest circle of friends, we were asked about the Top 10 people we trusted, what their gender is, their ethnicity, education level, age and finally their nationality. We may be proud to say we’re diverse however, humans tend to feel most comfortable with those who are just like themselves; we don’t seek out people who have different hobbies, different backgrounds or cultures as we tend to find we don’t understand each other as well. But that limited range of people will unconsciously shape how you see the world – both socially and in the workplace. It might just be worth trying something new, go out and meet new people so you can see the world from another’s perspective.
In McKinsey’s annual Women in the Workplace survey, among the stats shared was: “20% of surveyees said that they were the only women in the room for most of their work lives”. Mckinsey & Company*. This not only leaves women as single representatives but also lacking support in their work relationships. Women seek out other women and men seek out other men, therefore limiting perspectives rather than bringing persons together.
What were your key takeaways from International Women’s Day?
*Mckinsey & Company 2020, Corporate diversity: If you don’t measure it, it won’t get done
Available at https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/corporate-diversity-if-you-dont-measure-it-it-wont-get-done
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