I wrote 45 pages of notes at the amazing Omniwomen event yesterday and every single page holds priceless advice, an inspiring story or a challenging point of view. I think I now have enough pearls of wisdom and borrowed anecdotes to promote this initiative for the rest of my career which, after applying these learnings, I hope will be a long and successful one.
By chance, numerous themes echoed throughout the day. Here are five quick fire examples that made their mark on me:
Everyday, Sarah Warby, marketing director Sainsbury’s says “let’s look at it from the other end of the telescope”. Why might someone not agree with you? What does the customer see? If you reduce situations to ‘win/lose’ and are too focused on winning to consider the other side, you have already lost.
Whether you want a promotion or are in need of some help, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Jo Swinson, MP for East Dunbartonshire, requested to become a Minister and Dame Fiona Woolf remembers asking to be considered for Partner; both requests met with surprise from unaware decision makers.
A handful of speakers described themselves as control freaks, embodying the suggestion that women are likely to put greater pressure on themselves to strive for perfection. Penny Hunt encourages us to take this pressure off and be kinder to ourselves and Cilla Snowball’s top tip of the day was ‘excellence, not perfection’.
This is the product of self confidence and courage that women are felt to be much worse at than men.Unsurprisingly, the four journalists all encouraged self promotion and suggested we know what we stand for and make ourselves an expert in something in order to be memorable. Sarah Warby also reminded us that ‘networking is not a dirty word’ – simply an opportunity to meet interesting people and build relationships over time.
Paralympian Karen Darke was paralysed at age 21 after a rock climbing accident yet continues to set herself and complete the most remarkable challenges. She said that disability is a state of mind, not a state of body, and that without self belief you’ve already failed. Positivity is key and in the garden of the mind, plant seeds, not weeds.
These examples barely break the surface of what was shared at Omniwomen yesterday and I feel fortunate to work in an organisation so well represented by powerful and inspiring women. But with just 25% of the industry’s senior management being female (IPA) we still have a way to go. Businesses must hold a mirror up to society and be inclusive, reflecting ethnicity and disability as well as gender.
Now, off to read the other 40 pages of my notes to anyone who will listen…