Dangerous things happen to your diary when you mention to people that you’d be interested in receiving invitations to any diversity related events of which they are aware. My own diary exploded at the end of September and I was out and about for the next ten days or so; I actually had a period of four days where I didn’t eat a single meal at home, due to the invitations I accepted to various events tagged on to breakfast, lunch and dinner.
(Well, I say “dinner” – in fact, it was more “canapés grabbed from the hand of a passing waiter” but still – evening based food, at any rate.)
The amazing writer and author Alison Maitland (co-author of the bestselling book “Why Women Mean Business”) invited me to two events which hadn’t previously hit my radar; the first of these included breakfast at the Ritz (excellent!) and was the launch of the IDDAS report “Board Dynamics: A Female Perspective” – which featured interviews with 24 of the women, described as “an elite group of very hard working people” currently on the boards of FTSE 100 companies. It shared their views on the factors which can both help and derail women at the top level and asked them such questions as: what’s it like being the only woman on the board? What success factors do they bring to a company? What issues do they face? And, most importantly, what are their top tips for other senior women? Even if you’re not quite there, yet, I think these tips can be helpful to all women:
• Enjoy the role; have confidence in yourself and your abilities;
• Choose your board (and company) wisely;
• Work out your value add to the company;
• Prepare your initial impact statement for your first meeting;
• Get to know the business (sector, area) FAST;
• Don’t be pigeon-holed – for example, only speaking up on HR issues;
• Develop strong relationships with all the other board members.
On the same day, Alison and I then travelled to another part of London in order to participate in one of Goldman Sachs’ “diversity week” events. This was a performance of the play “Seven”, presented by the NGO “Vital Voices” – and I can only urge you to both follow the link provided here to read more about the play, view the trailer and to try to see it if the opportunity to do so ever presents itself.
It was a really astonishing piece of performance art, telling the stories of seven women from around the world (Afghanistan, northern Ireland, Nigeria, Russia, Guatemala, Pakistan and Cambodia) and providing us with glimpses into the lives of women who have overcome almost unimaginable barriers and sorrows.
Please – see it if you can; a truly amazing piece of work.