When you step into a leadership position people automatically expect you to be senior. It is engrained in us that leadership = senior manager, and if you are not a senior manager then you cannot be a true leader.
In November 2016 I became Chair of the DVLA Gender Equality Network after 12 months of supporting my predecessor Kelly Hodge as Vice Chair. My first task was to set my scene for the next 12 months. When working with Kelly we had a very distinctive split that intertwined at the right moments and stood apart when needed. Utilising my strengths I concentrated on cultural change and self-development and this is where my story as Chair begins.
I need to add that when I took the mantle the role was split to embed the notion that we were a Gender Equality Network, so I share my role with Dave Pope, and together we will use our differences and strengths to keep pushing for that even playing field that we are still unable to achieve.
I am a strong believer in change – I love living in a whirlwind of movement and evolution where people can come together and make a difference. This is what attracted me to the women’s network back in 2015 – Kelly was that movement and I wanted to be in the middle of it. Change is never a bad thing, without change we become stagnant and fixated on keeping everything’ as is’ and it creates a world of unrest...the calm before the storm that will naturally end with a change happening. Cultural change is my area of expertise – with a background in social science, research and ‘people watching’ I am intrigued (and on occasion extremely frustrated) by cultures and their ability to embrace or rebel against cultural reform. As a woman who has gone through many major changes in the past six years including producing a daughter, I am in a prime position to learn from my experiences and create a change that will benefit my daughter and her generation. It sounds very ambitious but I also believe that we are the instigators for bigger things – to be a pioneer and to put into action the thoughts and ideas that I discuss on a daily basis.
So how do I influence change without being a senior leader? Simply put, by doing three things:
Lean In – I Lean In to my colleagues and peers to create a network for change.
Look Forward – rather than just looking up at leaders, I look forward and pinpoint the rising stars who are sparking small changes.
Pay Attention to Detail – I look at the landscape and the bigger picture and connect the dots. I pay attention to the changes we are failing to champion because we are blinded by our culture. I pay attention to who is instigating these changes and get behind them – amplify, assist and applaud those who put themselves out there.
This year I want to encourage women to be the change they want to see in the world. Do you want to see more women engaging in meetings? Be the woman who offers her opinion. Do you want to see more women leaning in and supporting each other? Be the woman who offers words of encouragement to the women trying to achieve it all. I also want men to get on board – they are aware of the invisible barriers that only present themselves in the eyes of a woman. Amplify that amazing idea that was whispered behind you in a meeting for fear of being talked over or ignored, offer women the chance to be present at meetings rather than just occupying a seat and most of all, speak up if you can see the playing field rising in certain areas – don’t be the reason a woman fell over!!
I started the year launching Career Retreat – this is a series of workshops that you can mix and match depending on what you want to discover as part of your career journey. GEN will be looking at Personal Branding, Building your Board, Risks and Resilience, Confidence Building and Owning the (Meeting) Room. These will run alongside Career Journey talks delivered by colleagues from both the Public and Private Sector.
If you want to make a difference, share your story or be part of this exciting year then please contact me ([email protected])
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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work
environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your
diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email
[email protected] for more information.
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