Womanthology: One year on
It gives me the greatest pleasure to see some familiar faces and also to meet some new friends here. Why are we here? Womanthology is one! Although it launched one year ago, actually in the summer I will have been working on it for two years.
Why was this? I became really interested in equality and diversity and I was looking for something interesting to read over and above your typical women’s magazines with their focus on beauty and fashion.
I’ve always had a passion for business – I was a wanabee Alan Sugar and I sold jewellery at school. I studied business at university, so finance, accountancy, HR, logistics, marketing, strategy and law. More recently I discovered diversity and inclusion as a new way to increase business performance, drive growth, making us all better off.
So many things we give women to read are about making them feel bad. How about trying something positive?
I wanted to create something positive, a resource to help women transform their careers and challenge stereotypes. So many things we give women to read are about making them feel bad. I wanted something positive. I borrowed from the Rhonda Byrne book, The Secret – you are what you give your energy to. Don’t be anti-war, be pro-peace.
Not just telling it, proving it
I had noticed that women face pretty similar challenges across the developed world. I wanted a resource that was accessible for all women from undergraduate to board level. Women’s networks are springing up all over the place, but this is often quite intimidating for men. I decided to create a safe space for both genders.
Cast aside labels (the ones we give ourselves too) and the notion of ‘having it all’
I also wanted to be inclusive and cast aside labels. (Labels we give ourselves too.) Ariana Huffington talks about the third metric – money, power and balance, with balance being the new edition. And as for having it all. What is this? No one can even agree what it means!
I decided that the closest thing to this is doing what you love to do and being yourself.
I knew that no one was going to give me this opportunity so I would have to create it for myself
So I began to reach out to women (and men) from around the world who inspired me. The response has been phenomenal. I’ve spoken to women from around the world – scientists, sportspeople, chefs, film producers, engineers, architects, entrepreneurs, accountants. Any single job you could think of.
The list of countries grows each edition, but includes the USA, Canada, South Africa, Rwanda, UAE, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, Australia, France, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland and the list goes on.
Learning about other people has taught me about myself – the right time is now
- Keep learning;
- Don’t compare yourself to others;
- Focus – excellence is a habit. You are what you continually do;
- Celebrate differences;
- Age is just a number – people will always tell you you’re too young or too old. Ignore them. The right time is now;
- Find your passion. Spend time doing the things you love;
- People aren’t interested in what you do, it’s why you do what you do;
- Even if you can just help one person, then it’s been worthwhile.
Talking to other people about their fears has helped me overcome my own
Working on Womanthology had opened up whole new worlds of experience for me. I was having a bit of a difficult time before I started. I was a bit lost. Talking to other people about finding their purpose has become my own purpose. I have ended up on this amazing adventure. Talking to other people about overcoming their fears has helped me overcome my own.
- In May I was invited to the Chelsea Flower Show on press day (lots of pretending not to notice Michael McIntyre queuing up for his lunch, and trying not to get phased standing next to Mary Berry in the gift shop!)
- In June I was invited to attend a parliamentary round table
- I visited 10 Downing Street in August
- I was invited to Dubai in November
Licence to speak to anybody
Womanthology has become my licence to speak to anybody, have adventures and push myself and I’ve met so many incredible people through this process.
I have more adventures planned for the future. I’d like to grow Womanthology. I’m looking expand our reach. I’d like to develop the offering and provide more support, reach more people. I’d like more face to face interaction at events like this.
To get involved, sign up to the newsletter, follow us on Twitter and encourage others to do the same.
Without fail my favourite stories are the ones where women were told what they were setting out to achieve couldn’t be done. Women who are told they are mad, but then they did it anyway.
Don’t just take my word for it. We’re now going to hear from Anne Morrison, Chair of BAFTA – our first contributor. We’re also going to hear from Alastair McCapra, Chief Exec of CIPR. If it wasn’t for PR and comms people – Womanthology wouldn’t be possible. Creating positive change by storytelling. Finally we will be hearing from Laura Penhaul from Coxless Crew who is about to set off to row the Pacific alongside Natalia and the other members of the team.