International Women's Day 2021
Here we are again. Today we are publishing the latest version of our current website, before going live with our brand-new space.
It has certainly been a year I will never forget. This time last year we were just two weeks away from the first national lockdown in the UK. For me that meant, no more singing with my wonderful chorus, no more sewing with my fab sewing group, no more Monday morning BarreCore, no more Thursday morning Yoga, and most importantly, no more time with my children, my family and my friends. The children have all been extremely lucky not to lose jobs. My youngest is in New Zealand, so has been quite safe.
I am fortunate enough to live in a big enough house with a garden so that we are not on top of each other all the time. I live practically in the countryside and went cycling every day until July when I started to do the One million step challenge in aid of Diabetes UK. Walking a minimum of five miles a day and achieving up to nine miles a day on Saturdays when walking with a good friend. I loved the experience and really got into walking, but I missed my cycling I have to say and there are only so many hours in a day.
I found it hard to motivate myself to exercise when that finished. I didn’t get back on my bicycle. I walked only once a week. Autumn came, Winter set in, and I, like many other people I have spoken to, found the third lockdown particularly hard, short days, difficult news, which I found almost impossible to listen to. In fact, I have tended to avoid the news for almost all of the last year. I watch the occasional briefing, I read a paragraph of a news item that disturbs me on my phone.
There have been things that have kept me going though, I have been fortunate to have three projects to keep me busy, perhaps too busy to be honest. I have been zooming with my sewing group once a week and we have undertaken to work on several items for a local church. The logistic in themselves have been interesting. So far, we have almost completed a covering for the organ, and a banner four feet wide by six feet tall for the Saint. Using a wide range of dyeing, sewing and embroidery techniques. I have to say I am in awe of the skills of the women in this group, and they have helped to keep me sane with their madness, if that makes sense. Love you all ladies.
Most importantly, I have been working on Mentors for Women, and it has been a much longer and much harder road than I ever imagined it would be. It has been fraught with technical difficulties in the last year, and there was a point in time where I must be honest and say I almost gave up. If it wasn’t for the people around me and the wonderful people who I am working with who kept telling me I must continue, I think I would have walked away. Now we are finally on the cusp, and I am waiting for the roll out of a new version of the software I use to fix a few glitches so that I can get the application live.
In the interest of moving forward we decided to revamp our old website so that we can publish it on this very special day for women, #internationalwomen’sday. I am very excited about the new website and the way it is shaping up and I can’t wait to share it with you all.
I was lucky enough to get vaccinated a couple of weeks ago, and I think we are all hoping that there is light at the end of this long and very dark tunnel we have been in. I believe the need for mentoring especially of women is greater than ever, and I hope that we are going to be able to do some great things in making this change to the way women can access mentoring in the extremely near future.
The first three elements of our training are all up and running, which is exciting. There are free webinars for members and then experiential training, which for the moment is zoom based, but we hope later in the year to be able to bring those sessions into a real room and add the benefit of being able to network with like minds as well.
I have to say I am also looking forward to the day when I can see my surrogate granddaughter again, hug my boys and the wonderful women they have in their lives, welcome my youngest back from New Zealand, see my family, party with my friends, and remove this lock down girdle I seem to have gained. I can’t imagine what it will be like to go out, and see people, and wear make up and shoes! I seem to have spent the last year in sandals and trainers and training gear, even when I am not exercising. It will take time for all of us to get used to that world out there again.
#mentorsforwomen #mentoring #women
I want to share some good news with you all. It’s been a long hard road getting here. Four months ago we were within inches of the finishing line when we had to “manage” some serious technical issues. Once we had resolved those issues, which were entirely outside of our control, it was hard to pick it all up and move forward. Winter set in, the virus started to build again, we knew to expect it, but knowing we were headed for another tightening, another lockdown, didn’t make it easy to move forward. Progress has now been made and we are getting awfully close to launch.
You are reading this on a revamped version of our interim website, whilst waiting for our new all-singing all-dancing site to be finalised. We feel we need to get some more information out there so that you can see what is coming. The membership system is in its final stages of development. There is so much more we would like to do with it, but if we get the response we hope for then we can take it to the next stage.
The important thing now is to get it out there and get members signed up.
Last year has probably been one of the hardest in most of our lives. The fact that most of us have had to stay remote from our families and friends has been hard to bear. Many have had to live in isolation, as if living alone isn’t difficult enough.
Personally, the one thing I am thankful for is that I’ve had so much work to do preparing Mentors for Women for launch, it has kept me occupied in my office most days. But it has been a rollercoaster; so much to do; so many things to deal with which we didn’t expect.
To be honest when we were first hit with the Pandemic my immediate thought was that this was not the right time to start a new business, but I now believe it is the right time for Mentors for Women.
Now more than ever there’s need for a structured mentoring programme for women (and men too if they want to join). Working in isolation day after day, managing households, teaching children and no escape….. I know we’ve all wanted to escape, I certainly feel like if I don’t get out of this place soon, I’ll burst.
Anyway I hope the glimpse we give you here of what is coming will be of interest. Please get in touch if you are interested in becoming a mentor. The new site will also offer opportunities for people to tell their story, and if you are keen to do that, we want to hear from you.
We also want to signpost places of help and interest for women. If you think your organisation can support women in some way contact us and we can put up a signpost for you.
Its been over a year since I posted on my blog, but today I woke up and really felt the need to communicate. Why you might ask? Well, I have been working extremely hard over the last year, raising capital, choosing and configuring software, working on the vision. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, it has been very exciting. It has also been a very strange time for us all, and I have been thankful that I have had something to keep me focused whilst staying safe cocooned at home with my husband.
The brand new website will be launching soon, and following on from that the service will be launched. I have been talking to lots of people too and am delighted to be able to announce that we already have some amazing mentors who will be available as soon as we open for business. Women and men from different sectors and from business and creative walks of life, all excited to be taking part in this new service.
As part of my business planning, I did a lot of research into the need for women to be mentored. I thought it would be good to share some of that with you today.
There is a significant climate to increase the number of women in the Boardroom in the UK. Organisations like the 30% club are making a difference and have a very successful mentoring programme, it is limited to the businesses which buy into the 30% club and is specific to women looking to get into the C-Suite.
When looking for other organisations that provide mentoring, they are generally industry specific and limited in their reach. There is no general place where a woman can go to find a mentor. Mentoring is of course only one aspect of support women need to gain the confidence to be empowered and inspired to move on with their careers, others are having a sponsor, good line management and development opportunities . Whilst mentoring is an aspect which adds real value to women’s careers it does not need to be tied to, or provided by, the workplace.
The “Leaders and Daughters” Global survey in 2017 established a number of significant differences between women based on the country they lived and worked in and the age group they belonged to. The survey, first of its kind by this organisation, looked at the lives of 7000 women across seven countries, Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. The report makes very interesting reading and certainly shows the UK lacking in areas of mentoring.
Some of the key points are:
The full report can be found at www.egonzehnder.com
The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship – identifying barriers faced by women when starting a business was commissioned by HM Treasury September 2018 and published in March 2019. This is another significant area that needs to change and the report details that mentoring of these women is a factor.
“From our detailed research we believe the biggest opportunities to help female entrepreneurs fall in three areas:
The Prince’s Responsible Network, Business in the Community provides Cross Organisational Mentoring Circles, but the focus here is on Race, with Race champions leading work on mentoring for diversity. They have a number on interesting fact sheets on their web site, Women and Work, the facts. It was created in 2013, and it would be interesting to know how much had changed in the last 6 years.
Whilst mentoring is often viewed as an in-house function, a lack of available mentors, and certainly a lack of female mentors in an organisation can make this impossible. There is no reason why an external mentor would not be able to fulfil the role equally well, also providing additional benefits such as impartiality, a view of how other organisations work and different experiences.
Mentors may sometimes be expected to act as sponsors, but the roles are not related. Sponsors are equally important for women to be successful but like mentors they need to be changed as women move through an organisation.
Access to a mentor at an early stage in a woman’s career is essential to a successful future. Women have less informal mentoring available to them, and interestingly in the Egon Zehender paper under the section relating to career influences, which was extremely short, it stated:
“Who influences women’s development most? Overall, most women report that no one has been the greatest influence on career ambitions and choices. Mothers (17 %) are the second greatest influence, with fathers and husbands tying for third at 14%. However, we saw drastic differences based on age. Younger women were far more, likely to say their mothers had been the greatest influence on their careers, whilst older women were likely to say nobody.”
This clearly demonstrates what we have seen in the change of working culture over the last fifty or sixty years, with women taking their place in the workforce and striving for success regardless of the obstacles and wishing the same and in fact better for their daughters. I personally count myself as one of the women who had no influence on my career ambitions and choices, and indeed was born in an era where career was not even an expectation for me. Yet I know in my career I have been an influence on many younger women.
Mentors for Women provides a unique service for women to grow and build their confidence helping to improve the diversity of the workforce.
Mentoring is only one element of what needs to change to make the most of a what is large percentage of the workforce. Sponsorship and management buy in is also key, but this service provides a fundamental building block. Women often do not know what they need be able to achieve the promotion they desire.
The briefing below shows what an important element of the workforce women are.
The House of Commons Briefing paper Women and the Economy
“15.3 million women in the UK aged 16 and over were in employment in October- December 2018. The female employment rate was 71.4%, which is the highest it has been since comparable records began in 1971. The male employment rate was 80.3%. 9.0 million women were working full-time and 6.3 million were working part-time. 41% of women in employment were working part-time compared to 13% of men.
The most common sectors of employment for women are health and social work (accounting for 21% of all jobs held by women at September 2018), wholesale and retail (14%) and education (12%). 79% of jobs in the health and social work sector and 70% of jobs in the education sector were held by women.
617,000 women aged 16 and over were unemployed at October-December 2018, compared to 746,000 men. The unemployment rate for women was 3.9%, slightly less than the unemployment rate of 4.1% for men. 5.33 million women aged 16-64 were economically inactive in October-December 2018, 25.7% of women in this age group. This compared to 3.31 million men aged 16-64 who were inactive (16.6%).
There were large falls in the female inactivity rate over the 1970s and 1980s before a more gradual decline over the 1990s and 2000s. The rate has been falling more quickly again since 2010 in part due to increases in the State Pension age for women.
22% of women worked in high-skilled professional occupations in 2018, compared to around 19% of men. Around half of women in professional occupations in 2018 were employed as nurses, teachers or other educational professionals. However, a higher share of men than women were working as managers, directors or senior officials, with 13% of men in these roles compared to 8% of women. “
I am excited about launching the new service and making a difference to the lives of women from all walks and at all stages of life.