It’s the afternoon of 8th March, and I am at the Brand Exchange Members Club in the City of London, attending my second of three scheduled events celebrating International Women’s Day. City Hive’s Work Life Integration Workshop is being run by Christine Brown-Quinn, the self-titled ‘Female Capitalist’, who, in 2010, left the corporate world after 30 years to help women fast track their careers.
Before we enjoyed afternoon tea (too scrummy to not mention), Christine asked us to consider three statements:
Work-Life Success means to me…
The biggest obstacle that is holding me back being at my best is… and I can overcome this by…
I can leverage my strongest skills even more at home and work by…
The room is filled with women. I counted just three men, and I think it’s safe to say this ratio probably helped with the level of honesty when the audience were asked to go through their answers.
Many of the women talked about taking on too many tasks and not being able to speak up when the workload became too challenging. Also, many said they felt guilty about being out of the office for family reasons, and for being at the office and missing out on family life.
Some of the women also voiced the need to do everything themself, to ensure it is done properly – it seems the control freak in us all is causing us to overwork!
Would these confessions have been spilled in the same way if the audience were not almost entirely female? I doubt it. It can be difficult to speak up when you are the minority and our workplaces are very male-dominated, so this was a refreshing change for all and the feeling of ‘sisterhood’ was running high.
As Christine talked through some solutions: prioritising the tasks only you can do and delegating the rest; not feeling guilty about quality time away from work or family because it benefits everyone if you are happy (though this is easier said than done, admittedly).
I couldn’t help but feel empowered by the number of women reassuring each other. And I also felt proud - proud of being part of the female race and proud to be a part of this industry.