Updated: Sep 30, 2020
Phew! What a day I had for a Thursday.
A woman with no limits. Is there such a person? Well judging by today I would say there is a swathe of women on their way to achieving such a status, having attended the first virtual She Has No Limits Summit set up by three organisations Equal Talent, Thrive Law and The Career Mum.
It all started with an exclusive performance by Quarantina Turner, #BGT social media sensation dancing her way to Dolly Parton and Tina Turner to introduce us to what was clearly going to be a conference with a difference!
Then I had the pleasure of chairing a panel with some fabulous inspirational women (and a man!) sharing their honest, thought provoking and in some cases amusing 'bouncing back' stories. But also hearing about stories of terrible experiences of workplace bullying and harassment to bravely walking away from roles that compromised personal values. The panel really resonated with the audience and was a great starting block to opening up the discussion and ideas of how to overcome adversity.
Coaching sessions followed the panel with a choice of workshops ranging from 'Stand up and Stand out' using comedy to find our mojo or there was 'Go with the Flow' for procrastination addicts (this one I did attend!) along with others around building assertiveness and confidence.
The virtual networking was brilliant. I actually think it is better than physically being face to face (did I just say that?!). You lose all the awkwardness of approaching someone or group and making that initial small talk, and instead have an experience not that dissimilar to 'speed dating' (although there's no need to head to the virtual loo to escape it if doesn't feel right!). Each one is only 6 minutes before moving on to another amazing person to speak to if you have the time.
Just before lunch was a 'Fireside Chat' with Sophie Walker, CEO of the Young Women’s Trust (where proceeds were donated from ticket purchases). Her personal account of navigating the male dominance in journalism reporting from war-torn countries whilst balancing a family as a single parent was astonishing especially when she reflected by saying she "isn't really a resilient" person.
Sophie's speech was a reminder of the impact of the global pandemic on women that appears to have only exacerbated the need to change things for ourselves. It all takes its toll for many women coping with health and caring responsibilities whilst balancing working from home and being 'present' to losing jobs and navigating a way through financial hardship and redundancy. It really brought to the fore how important it is to support and empower one another. Especially at this time. She continued her powerful and compelling keynote speech with some more amazing anecdotes and inspirational words before concluding with "Feminism is freedom for all of us".
One of the other highlights for me was the post-lunch energising session with Jennifer Emery. Who would have thought I would be dancing in the home office to "shake it off, shake it off" to prepare for the second half! Excellent idea. Not sure if my neighbours would have agreed if they saw me though.
We then returned to the seriousness of the current climate with the topical 'How is the world of work changing?' chaired by Simone #NorthernPowerWoman Roche with another great panel of speakers. Unsurprisingly versatility is high up on the priority list of required skills followed by a strong network in a post-pandemic world. The contentious issue of 'Presenteeism' was also discussed with some panellists referring to it as "ridiculous" - quality of work is more important.
To finish what was a wonderful and empowering day, there was the #SheHasNoLimits Awards presented by the funny woman that is Laura Smyth who featured on Jonathan Ross' Comedy Club the week before! There was an abundance of nominations for each category comprising the HERO award for those much needed male allies! Along with the Aspirer, Community Maker and Phoenix Awards. Amazing and uplifting stories behind the individual winners. A real reminder that there are already women out there with no limits.
So what have I learned from today's summit?
1. That it takes guts to be the first one to stand up, but women should stand up for what they believe in and DEFINITELY shout out when they feel something is wrong. As we know there is power in numbers.
2. And at the very least, have the courage to follow and encourage others to follow you too.
In the words of Derek Sivers - "This is the start of a movement" (https://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement?language=en)
A movement that is set to grow. So watch this space!
The She Has No Limits Summit was better than I expected. I am proud to have taken part in such a collaborative and hope-inspiring conference.
Find out more about the event at https://www.shehasnolimits.com/
And by the way, I am now a big fan of Hopin - it's an amazing platform!