Achieving Diverse Leadership

Achieving Diverse Leadership was the title of an event organised by the Women in Management Committee of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) earlier this month in Bristol. It was billed as a networking event for people “committed to developing even better led and managed organisations” and women were there in abundance.

Are glass ceilings only there if you can see them?

It was very much a “Think it, Conceive it, Believe it” evening, introduced by Kate Brookes of CMI-SW, who challenged us all to start working towards making women’s networks obsolete. The Davies review (2015) was quoted – did you know that 33% of directorships have to be women by 2020? This will be hard to achieve without more women at all levels of management, or indeed without more women in tech as a whole.

Philippa Constable took us through her personal journey that led to her setting up Women Mean Biz and also shared her top networking tips, including some useful question cards to help us get talking to each other:

  • What type of business are you in?
  • How did you get started?
  • What do you love about the work that you do?
  • What are the challenges you are facing right now?
  • What should I do or listen for to find a good prospect or lead for you?

There was a ripple of recognition around the room about fear of talking in public and hatred of the One Minute Speech where you saw who you are and what you do – this is something we know is an issue that can get in the way of women moving onwards and upwards, which is why sessions on presentation and public speaking skills will be included in WTHub activities.

What I liked about Philippa’s talk was her belief in generosity – giving support as well as receiving, and how that helps create trusted professional networks.

If you think you can’t, you’re right (Henry Ford)

Philippa was followed by Ann Skidmore, challenging us to think about some of our own beliefs that stop us from doing what we really should know we can: changing a belief that limits us will lead to changes in our behaviour. So, limiting beliefs hold us back and empowering beliefs drive us forward, support us and help us to reach our potential. Ann has a background in NLP and believes that if you think about how you are feeling and decide it is not ‘helpful’ then you can choose a different feeling. It was an interesting idea – definitely one to think about.

After the talks we all moved to the SS Great Britain to practice our networking over a glass of wine, and met a whole bunch of interesting women from diverse fields. It was lovely to get such postitive feedback for our ideas and plans for Women’s Tech Hub too.