Updated: Oct 6, 2018
Last month, I hosted the first Empowering Women Roundtable in Leeds. My objective was to share learnings from a course (Empowering Women) I had previously attended and encourage women to think differently. To ensure high quality and relevant content, I also invited Debbie Anderson and Steve Cliff, two professional coaches and facilitators from Empowering You, who co-hosted the event.
The event generated a lot of interest from people across the region and from different sectors. It was overwhelming to be approached by so many individuals and managers keen to reserve places for their team members including colleagues from Bradford, Barnsley Council, DWP Digital, the NHS, colleges and Leeds University. Within three weeks of advertising tickets, they were all sold out.
36 women attended the event which was hosted at Leeds Civic Hall. After some initial apprehension to present to such an audience, I decided to be bold and open the event by sharing my personal and professional journey. As I grew in confidence I explained my reasons for organising the event as well as the efforts made by Leeds City Council to transform into a truly inclusive and diverse organisation. My introduction was followed by those of the coaches and the attendees outlined their thoughts and reasons to attend the event.
As part of the morning session, we reflected on our identity, our unique skills and achievements; we learnt from one another’s attainments and also learnt to acknowledge the fact that we are all remarkable individuals.
Just before lunch break, we were joined by Jackie Murphy who also shared her journey, her fears, how she overcomes them and her successes. Whilst answering questions, Jackie also gave advice on the benefits of being mentored. During lunch, participants continued to network and share their experiences.
The afternoon session was opened by Helen Freeman who started by expressing her satisfaction at addressing a group of women. She spoke of her move to Leeds City Council and the challenges she faced which then lead to her becoming a founder of Leeds City Council Women Voice Network. She described how the network started and how it has evolved over time. She explained the value in being part of the network for all female colleagues across the city and highlighted future key milestones. After answering a few questions from the audience, Helen was followed by Viv Buckland who was our last speaker of the day. Viv shared her inspiring life journey; from her childhood into her present life. We found out how she chooses to embrace challenges, makes decisions as well as why Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) became so prominent in her everyday life. Viv answered a number of questions from participants before we were able to proceed to final exercise of the day.
Since the event, I have been able to evaluate the feedback provided by the roundtable participants; it was extremely positive and there is certainly a need for more events of this kind. Personally, I developed the confidence to use new skills and met with many wonderful, remarkable men and women along the way. I hope to be involved in organising more events of this kind and I will certainly keep you posted.
I will finish my account of the event with some quotes from the feedback forms we collected at the end :
“Realising I should have more self-belief”
“Hearing lots of people’s achievements and being inspired by them. Also, finding out issues I have, others have as well e.g. not putting yourself forward for roles you aren’t 90% qualified for.”
“Freedom to open up and not be judged. Listening to inspirational guest speakers.”
“Building confidence. Being inspired by speakers and delegates.”
Feel the fear and do it anyway,
with thanks to Martin Walker Photography and
the Local Government Association for their support