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Her Talent: Why Just for Women?
Although the world is undoubtedly changing, you only have to look around the vast majority of workplaces to see that, even in the organisations where women equal or even outnumber their male colleagues, there are still far too few women progressing to senior levels. In our fast-changing and increasingly uncertain business landscape, it is well established that the most successful businesses will be those with a greater diversity of talent at all levels of the business. Addressing the barriers to women’s career progression is, therefore, a business imperative.
The reasons why women are not progressing at the same rate as men are varied, and some are undoubtedly applicable to men too (how many fathers, for instance, would like to flex their hours to help with childcare, but find it is simply unacceptable for them to do so?). However, there is much evidence to demonstrate that women face specific barriers and challenges that most of their male colleagues do not in terms of both career progression and managing the balance between work and domestic responsibilities.
Working Environments Designed For Men
Most of our organisations have evolved to suit a male stereotype (long, inflexible hours, valuing traditional 'male' traits of leadership, gendered roles, networking in the pub after work or on the golf course...the list goes on...).
This challenge is compounded by the effect of gender differences that are conditioned from the moment we are born. As a result, we see noticeable differences in the way men and women communicate and their attitudes towards ambition, leadership and career development. Even when women exhibit similar behaviour to men, we find differences in the way in which this behaviour is perceived and valued. For example, 'assertiveness' is often perceived as 'strong and positive' in men, but 'aggressive' in women.
Equal But Different
Her Talent is designed to recognise that women are equal, but different to men and that a one size fits all approach to personal development, or training women to be more like men in order to progress, is not effective.
Our programme offers a comfortable environment for women to talk about and work through their particular experiences - ones they might feel reluctant to fully share at work and even at home. We create a space where women can explore and develop their own potential in their own way, and work out practical ways to navigate their way around the challenges presented in and outside of the workplace.
Women only personal development programmes are not intended to be the solution to gender equality in the workplace - for that we very much need to work jointly with our male colleagues - but they can add real value and precious support to women keen to progress their careers in traditionally male environments and/or struggling to balance their work and family life.
Information for Services In Jersey When Experiencing A Mental Health Crisis
(By Charissa Russ: https://counsellingpsychjersey.com/)
The following information is intended to help point you, or someone you know, in the right direction for support in the event of a psychological crisis for which you feel there is need for professional intervention.
1. If you are experiencing difficulties during the course of the working day, please make contact with your GP and take the soonest available appointment, this may mean seeing a different doctor to the one you usually see.
2. If you experience a crisis outside of your GP’s usual hours, you can contact Jersey Doctors On Call. Information about their hours can be found here: https://www.gov.je/Health/DoctorDentist/Doctors/Pages/OutHours.aspx
3. If you are extremely concerned about your ability to keep yourself safe, or if someone you know is unable to keep themselves from harm, please attend the A&E Department at the Jersey General Hospital and ask for the ‘mental health liaison service’. This is a 24 hour a day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year service. More information about Government of Jersey Mental Health Services can be found here: https://www.gov.je/Health/Mental/Pages/Adult.aspx
More general options for those with mental health problems are:
- Samaritans: Information on the Jersey branch opening hours for face to face contact can be found at: https://www.samaritans.org/branches/jersey/ Calls to the following number are free 116 123 and someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year.
- Mind Jersey: There is a vast range of information and support available from Mind Jersey and they have collated details on services available locally for those experiencing mental health difficulties. http://www.mindjersey.org Click - Get Support, Signposting and select whether you need services for children or adults.
- Jersey Citizens Advice: For more general information about the range of services available locally Jersey Citizens Advice have created the Jersey Online Directory which lists many organisations available in Jersey. http://www.jod.je/kb5/jersey/ directory/home.page
- Jersey Recovery College: A local mental health charity offering courses to help individuals (and their loved ones) with mental health problems to move towards and maintain their recovery and well-being: https://www.recovery.je
- Mental Health Foundation: This is another fantastic UK mental health charity with lots of resources available on line: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health
You don’t seem yourself lately, is everything ok?
(By Charissa Russ: https://counsellingpsychjersey.com/)
I was thrilled to see the huge turnout at the ‘Is Mental Health At Work The Last Taboo?’ event held by The Diversity Network in January. As a psychotherapist, I believe having open and honest conversations about mental health difficulties will foster increased understanding and inclusion so those struggling feel less alone and able to speak about their difficulties and needs.
To challenge the stigma associated with mental health problems, it is helpful to think about mental health as being on a continuum; at any time, we, our friends, families and colleagues sit along that continuum. When feeling content in our personal and professional lives we place ourselves towards the healthier end of the continuum. When difficulties arise however, for example relationship problems, financial stresses, work deadlines or bereavement, we may find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and sliding towards burnout.
Mental health charity Mind report 1 in 6 people experience mental health problems in any week. Given that we spend over a third of our waking hours at work, we are likely to come across someone struggling with mental health problems during our working week. So here are 5 tips for identifying and responding to colleagues in need:
1. Recognise possible signs of distress: Increased irritability, tearfulness or distractibility; appearing more tired or drained than usual; change in appetite, smoking or alcohol use; increase in making mistakes; difficulties with time keeping.
2. Open up a conversation: Choose a quiet moment where you have time & space to talk. Gently acknowledge the changes you have noticed, ie ‘You don’t seem yourself lately, is everything ok?’. People can feel very ashamed about mental health problems so try not to say ‘You seem depressed, anxious, irritable….’
3. Listen: You may not be able to do or say anything that changes the persons difficulties but listening with kindness, compassion & sincerity may help them open up; a problem shared can be a problem halved, at least momentarily.
4. Act or seek further advice: Do you need to signpost to a mental health first aider, HR or GP? As a manager are there reasonable adjustments you can offer?
5. Follow Up: Check back in after a short while. If either of you have agreed on an action, follow it through, assess if it’s been helpful & review if further support is required.
We are primed for connection with others, so simply asking someone if they are ok can have a powerful impact upon reducing isolation and challenging stigma.
If you would like to receive guidance and consultancy for promoting inclusion and positive mental health amongst employees within your organisation, I would be pleased to hear from you.
Or if you haven’t been yourself lately and you’re beginning to struggle, please contact me to talk about how I may be able to help. The vast majority of my clients are of working age and some may have their therapy costs covered by a health insurance policy provided by their employer, demonstrating increasing parity between physical and mental health problems. Access to private therapy enables people to receive the help they need at the time they most need it, reducing the possibility of burnout.
Do you like a story..? Watch TDN's Co-Founder, Kate Wright, talk about a subject very close to her heart at DisruptHR's recent showcase event in St Helier.
Why 2019 can be the year of women in jersey
It’s easy to write off 2018 as a negative year for political and social progress around the world when we’ve been hit daily with depressing headlines about the global rise of nationalist politics, ‘America First’ foreign policy (and general ‘Trumpisms’) and the seemingly never-ending Brexit debacle.
However, if you look a little harder, there have been real glimmers of optimism in 2018 and, actually, some pretty significant successes, particularly when it comes to gender equality: Female candidates in the US (especially women of colour) broke historic ground in mid-term elections, Ireland removed its incredibly draconian abortion laws and women in Saudi Arabia finally were able to drive legally, to name just some of the most notable of these great leaps forward.
There is clearly a global ‘shift’ picking up pace. Closer to home this has been fuelled by high profile campaigns, including the gender pay gap and #MeToo. Female empowerment and women’s rights are being strongly championed by the media, with a host of celebrities, from Angelina Jolie to Meghan Markle, speaking out on women’s rights and gender equality. We are seeing the shift across the arts, entertainment, sport and business. Clearly Jersey is not immune.
So why do we believe that 2019 is really shaping up to be the year of women in Jersey?
In politics –
2019 will see the centenary in July of some women (and others for that matter, such as non-property-owning men) finally receiving the right to vote. This was a momentous moment in the history of Jersey’s democracy and quite rightly there are plans to celebrate in style! It will also provide an opportunity to reflect on how far women have come – and how much further we still need to go in terms of achieving equality. Would the pioneering suffragettes of one hundred years ago be impressed or disappointed with our progress in Jersey we wonder?
With the support of the think tank and action group, Women in Politics, we will have the opportunity to build on the progress made in last year’s elections which saw more women standing for office than ever and the two candidates receiving the most votes both being women (Senators Tracy Valois and Kristina Moore). Let’s hope amongst our female deputies and senators we have a strong woman willing to stand for Chief Minister at some point soon in the future. There is some great talent emerging in the Assembly and these women will hopefully be prominent role models for our girls to show them just what is possible for women in politics in Jersey.
One of the most significant barriers to equality for women in Jersey is our archaic tax law preventing married women from being responsible for their own tax affairs (we still find it hard to believe we are writing that sentence in 2019!). Thanks to a social media backlash and strong push back from some States members, the half way compromise measure offered by the States has apparently been recognised as insufficient and we have been promised change sooner. We very much hope this means in 2019!
Very importantly for Jersey, we will be hosting the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians in September. This is a fantastic opportunity to not only showcase to the rest of the world the beautiful island in which we live, but also our positive work and intentions towards achieving a truly inclusive society for all of our citizens.
In business –
Following some very disappointing gender pay gap statistics (not to be confused with equal pay, which thankfully did not appear to be an issue) released by the States of Jersey – our biggest employer on the island – we have seen a strong campaign, led by The States Diversity Group. This is shining a light on barriers to women in business across the whole of the Jersey business community and seeking to clarify just how much of an issue the gender pay gap is likely to be for women working here. The ensuing public debate and pressure on local businesses to look within their organisations at how successfully women are able to progress to senior levels have been significant, and the recognition that many working cultures need to change is growing.
This is reflected in the number of diversity related business groups and networks that formed or grew in 2018, including Lean In, Women in Tech, Diversity in Change and, of course, our own venture, The Diversity Network (TDN). These groups have been working hard to highlight the business case for diversity and inclusion in order to bring about real change for the benefit of everyone. Due to the positive reception we have received, and demand from local businesses for practical help, TDN are delighted in 2019 to be able to expand their support to providing business solutions for those organisations who really want to increase the diversity of their Boards and workforces. In terms of achieving gender equality, we are particularly proud of Her Talent, a personal development programme specifically designed for working women to help them break down barriers to success and achieve a better balance between work and home life. As far as we are aware it is the first of its kind in Jersey, and we are very excited about its potential impact for women in business!
Interestingly, several local action groups will all be focussing on social mobility as a serious issue that needs urgent action in Jersey in 2019. On a 9 by 5 mile island it is simply unacceptable – but surely possible to change – that many children from lower socio-economic backgrounds do not see a career in our major industries, finance and law, as an option for them. It is unacceptable that many people from minority backgrounds feel that their voices go unheard and that there is ‘no point’ in engaging in politics, because there is no one representing them or understanding their issues in government. Neither is this lack of social mobility and understanding healthy for the future of our island.
TDN will focus on what businesses can do to attract and retain a much more diverse workforce (for the benefit of their own business performance as well as the community) and Women in Politics, Soroptimists International and Jersey Community Relations Trust will particularly focus on women who are marginalised in Jersey society. We are confident that these local initiatives will receive the support they deserve from government over the next year. What will be really powerful – and is certainly one of TDN’s aims for 2019 – is to see government, education, business and community groups all working closely together to achieve similar aims for the good of the whole of society.
So why does it matter for Jersey that this should be the year of women?
The UK and Jersey’s productivity levels are in a slump and with the threat of Brexit on the horizon, radical change is needed to kick start the economy and fend off further decline. A recent report by McKinsey suggests a number of possible solutions, interestingly including increased female participation in the economy: ‘If women participated in the British economy as much as men, it could add £600 billion to UK GDP in 2025. More realistically, if each region were to add women to the workforce at the fastest pace it achieved during the past decade, then the United Kingdom would add £150 billion to its GDP in 2025.’
The big question, of course, is how do we do this? How do we future proof our economy? Obviously there is no silver bullet but the clever people are putting their money on:
· closing the gender gap,
· increasing female participation in key sectors of the economy, and
· increasing the number of female hours worked, and moving women into more productive sectors.
Achieving this is an enormous challenge, but definitely do-able. It would require looking at policies such as flexible working schemes, child care, and “returnships” to help women return to work after time away. All of these options are relevant, important and achievable in Jersey.
Whilst we have seen some promising signs that things are heading in the right direction for women, there is work to be done and the pace of change needs to accelerate. We need to keep our foot to the pedal and eyes on the road!
It’s also important to note that gender is just one strand of the strategy, and encouraging growth and contribution from all areas of diversity is truly needed. What we really need for the long term economic and social benefit of all citizens of Jersey is for 2019 to be the year of diversity...but one step at a time. As Lucy Stone, the leading US suffragist, once said, “Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things.”!
Helpful links:Women in Politics: https://www.facebook.com/jerseywomeninpolitics/Gender Pay Gap Campaign: https://statesassembly.gov.je/news/pages/Is-there-a-gender-pay-gap-in-Jersey.aspxSoroptimists International: https://sigbi.org/swci/clubs-of-the-region/s-i-jersey/Lean In: https://leanin.org/circles/leanin-jersey-ci
Creating Better Balance: 5 Tips for Stressed Career-Parents!
Times are slowly changing and it was brilliant to see so many dads commenting on International Men's Day last week about wanting to share child-caring responsibilities and beginning to demand the flexible working that will allow them to do this and spend more time with their families. As the expectation and confidence to demand greater flexibility and consideration as a parent from men continues to grow (although, let's be realistic, there is still a mountain to climb before it is seen as acceptable for men to work part-time or flexibly in many organisations), so will equality in the workplace.
Despite some progress, it is still mums who take on the lion-share of the child-caring responsibilities and so it is predominantly women who are having to deal with the day to day pressures of juggling work and family life. The stresses are often so great that many feel that they have no choice but to opt out - sacrifice their career - if they have any hope of achieving a work life balance. Others struggle on to the detriment of their health and happiness. This is one of the major reasons why Sam Duffy and I felt that there is very much a need and a place for a personal development programme just for women - The Diversity Network's 'Her Talent' programme. TDN Academy
Personally, if I read another blog about how 'getting up at 5am to go for a run and meditate changed my life', I shall chuck my iPhone out of the window!! To be fair, on the odd occasion when I have got up an hour earlier and gone for a run, it has had a hugely positive impact on my day... but what most of us are crying out for - men and women - is practical help to enable us have more guilt-free time with the kids, without it having a negative effect on our career progression, and a less stressful day....
So, with my coach's hat on, here are the some of the most practical solutions that my clients struggling with the work life balance conundrum have arrived at....
- It's not 'one-size fits all'. Work-life balance is different for everyone. Caring for pre-schoolers is very different to caring for teens, for example, and so you will need to define what good balance looks like for you. What are your priorities, and therefore what can you do to help yourself achieve them? Would starting and finishing earlier allow you be at the school gate for pick up? Would working a 9 day fortnight be an affordable way to give yourself back a little more time just for you?
I really like the attached exercise. It's a quick and simple way to gain a little insight into the things that are actually core to our wellbeing, but always get over-shadowed by work and family/relationships. These are the things that, if we can find a way to fit them into our schedules, will give us back a sense of balance - and so a good starting place for your plan. Quartzy Work-Life Balance Exercise
2. Review your work life balance strategically. Take a calendar view - when are the busy times in your working year - when flexibility may be more difficult - and when are the quieter times when it may be possible to take some time out, reduce your hours or work more flexibly? Build this into your plan too.
3. If you don't ask...you don't get....Think about what would work for you and then confidently propose the changes at work, showing how they will be manageable and explaining why they are so important to you. If you are aware of precedents that work well, highlight them. If there is still doubt on your boss' part, suggest a trial period with the option to revert back to you current working patterns if necessary. More than likely you will receive a positive response from your boss, but demonstrating a well thought through business case will make it far more difficult for your employer to say no....
4. Be a role model and talk about your family at work. For years I felt I couldn't let on to my clients that I wasn't available at a particular time because I was looking after my kids! Why? I'm not really sure, to be honest, but there often seems to be this unwritten code that at work we daren't mention our domestic needs or pressures in case someone thinks that they will get in the way of our work. However, by talking about our families at work we are able to bring more of ourselves to work - and make it easier for others to do so too. I recently received an 'out of office' email from the busy MD of a local consultancy firm that explained that he was unable to respond because he was attending his daughter's sports day. What a positive role model - I imagine his workplace is a pretty good place to be!
5. Take control of your own work life balance. Once you've started responding to emails at 9pm at night or working on your days off for a period of time - this becomes the norm for you and the expectation of everyone you work with. You're also implicitly suggesting that this is how everyone else should be working, even if that is not your intention. Work out what is really urgent, and what can actually wait until tomorrow or next week or can perhaps be delegated to someone else . If you're addicted to your smartphone in the evenings or at weekends, put it in another room to help you resist temptation. If you want some 'me time' in the evenings or quality time with the family on your day off, set yourself some boundaries and do your utmost to stick to them. Once you've broken the old habits and established some new, more positive ones you might just see the scales tipping closer to that longed for balance...
By Kate Wright