Empowering Women in Leadership

Impact’s co-founder, Jules Dosne had the pleasure of collaborating with Amy Mercer, co-founder of UpliftHER, to lead a roundtable discussion on Empowering Women in Leadership.  They were joined by an inspiring group of People and Business leaders, collectively steering conversations towards positive change.

At Impact, we pride ourselves on our deep-rooted commitment to inclusivity. Over a decade ago, we launched our Future Proofing Talent through Diversity programme, and have been hosting regular events ever since. Our mission is to foster collaboration and open dialogues that can drive positive change within our industry.

In the ever-evolving professional landscape, women persist in facing distinctive challenges within male-dominated environments. Our recent roundtable revealed not just the hurdles but also began to explore creative approaches to navigate and overcome them.

Here are some key takeaways from our dynamic discussion:

1️⃣ Customised Career Development Programmes: Acknowledge that women have unique needs at different life stages. Tailor career development programmes to align with these stages, ensuring support is provided where it’s needed most—whether it’s early career exploration, mid-career advancement, or executive leadership.

2️⃣ Demystify Networking as a Skill: Networking is pivotal for career progression, with 80% of opportunities arising through connections. Make networking accessible by teaching it as a skill. Provide resources, mentorship, and opportunities for women to expand their networks, fostering a culture where connections are valued and cultivated.

3️⃣ Tackle the Hidden Job Description: Address the burden of hidden tasks that women often carry, from organising to educating others about bias. Be conscious about who is doing what and ensure lower-value tasks explicit across all job roles rather than waiting for them to be ‘picked up’.

For tasks/activities identified as having a cultural impact on the company make sure they aren’t just seen as ‘additional extras’ by rewarding them appropriately for their value.

4️⃣ Address the Feedback Drought and Disparity: Women typically receive more subjective feedback, if they receive feedback at all. At the same time, often left in a conundrum as they navigate gendered labels such as bossy, aggressive, or emotional. Combat the feedback disparity women often face by teaching everyone how to give and receive feedback. Dispel gender stereotypes and equip individuals with the right questions to ask for clarity, supporting development while navigating gendered labels.

5️⃣ Championing Others as a Leadership Criteria: Actively supporting and advocating for others should be a measurable deliverable for leaders. Making this part of your organisation’s performance criteria will help ensure women (and others) aren’t overlooked and recognition becomes ingrained in the organisational culture.

6️⃣ Use Process and Policies to Level the Playing Field: From recruitment and promotion processes to paternity leave, leverage these to increase accessibility, objectify decision-making, and consider the messages sent to women within the organisation.

7️⃣ Objectify Performance and Value Flexibility: Measure output and impact over proximity and availability will help people get over the WFH and part-time working stigma and foster more inclusive workplaces where different working patterns and styles can thrive. 

A big thank you to Amy Mercer, Gemma Wise, Charly Fisher, Kiran Bance, Tanya Whitehead, Tania Allen, Sarah Joyce, Amanda Tully, Janet Marwick, Dani Loudon, Georgina Small, Rhona Glazebrook and Carly David for your insightful input.  Our thanks to Marc Vickery and TBWA for enabling us to host at your fabulous offices and supporting this important topic.