Ending – WDF will officially end as of 31st January 2018
Beginning – Female Potential will be launching in Q2 2018
Read on to understand why WDF needed to end and find out more about our exciting new plans ….
Firstly I personally want to say thank you to WDF itself for all that it has done for me over the past 8+ years – it gave me a purpose, raised my profile, connected me with so many wonderful people, helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, taught me to hold and facilitate a room full of different opinions, gave me a platform from which to help others and filled my wardrobe with smart dresses I could only really ever stand up in!
I also want to thank all the people who supported WDF during its 8 years of operation – members, attendees, sponsors, speakers, the board, committee members and of course the wonderful Kirstie. I couldn’t have achieved any of it without you, so thank you to absolutely everyone who had a part in this venture.
Our mission was to create a safe, friendly place for women to network together as equals, find ways to help each other, share experiences and raise awareness of issues pertinent to women in the work place. I think we achieved most of these aims. We also loosely held the mission to help increase the number of women in senior leadership, but without a measurement tool, we can only hope that we did help towards this goal too.
But like all good things, WDF has come to an end. I’ve had longer to get used to this idea and now can really see how it’s only when something ends that something new can emerge to fill the space. I believe the time is right for something new in both islands and am excited that we will soon be able to reveal exactly what is happening.
Let’s start with WDF Jersey, the newer kid on the block. 2017 saw us complete 3 years of operation and really build momentum in the island. Our biggest ever WDF meeting was in March when 166 people came along to hear Dr Tessa Hartmann speak on International Women’s Day. Over the 3 years, I really enjoyed getting to know the women in Jersey and busting through some of the inter-island rivalry myths. Yes the islands are different, but really the women and the issues they face are just the same.
It became clear that to make further progress in Jersey, WDF would have needed a dedicated on-island presence to meet with sponsors, members and the media, and not be reliant on me playing Russian roulette with the fog! As it turned out I did get there and manage to put the show on the road each time, but as anyone who stages events knows, just the stress of holding the possibility of travel disruption is exhausting.
I am therefore truly delighted that Kate Wright and Sam Duffy will be forming The Diversity Network – Jersey, to build on the work WDF started in the island. As well as develop a broader diversity mission, which has emerged as the preferred direction of travel for Jersey sponsors and members alike.
Here in Guernsey I was faced with a different challenge. After 8 years of operation our numbers in the room were still good, but our biggest membership year was behind us. While pulling back from Jersey was obviously the sensible option, without the Jersey cash flow, the WDF finances were not going to add up. On top of the issues with the financial model, were an outdated website and software, a tired format and my exhaustion from running 16 meetings a year across both islands.
I woke up on the morning of 16th June, with the clear knowledge that I needed to do something significantly different, so cancelled my meetings for the day and went to my favourite beach to think. Realising when I got there that I hadn’t been once in approaching 5 years! But at the time I was too frazzled to come up with much in the way of rational solutions, which led to the decision that the best option was for me and WDF to take a 6 month break; to rest, recover and review where we were heading.
During the 6 months period some of my realisations have been: –
1. It was only once I’d put down the running of WDF that I realised just what stress I’d been putting myself under
2. People I spoke to along the way, were very appreciative of what WDF had done but there was also a clear appetite for something new, especially from younger women
3. Times have changed since 2009, the gender arguments have not been solved but they’ve moved on. Where is the public conversation about #MeToo in Guernsey?
4. The WDF audience grew up with us over the 8 years, there is now a whole new generation in the workplace with different ideas
5. Taking time out at lunchtimes to attend events is difficult for lots of people. What if we could find another way to reach more people without them leaving their desks?
6. In general, the younger generation embrace rather than run from the word feminist
7. There’s an appetite out there right now for grittier, more real, less careful conversations
8. The corporate world is Patriarchal and many of the messages we heard through the years focussed on how women need to change to fit in, when the system itself needs to change
9. Implicit in this was still a “fix the women” message, true empowerment means embracing exactly who we are right now – we don’t need fixing!
10. How the focus on getting women into the boardroom is a very narrow measure of success, which can alienate more women than it recruits
11. How seeing women through a gender imbalance lens automatically puts women in second place.
12. Missing the fact that women are leading in many other areas of life – personal development, the evolution of consciousness, fashion, education, alternative modalities, the health and well-being industry to name but a few
13. We all have huge amounts of latent potential we don’t even know is there. What if we could find better ways to help women bring out their potential?
14. That WDF was great for large group networking but real personal development happens when we go deeper; women working best in small collective supportive groups
15. That executive coaching is expensive so budgets tend to get spent on the stars; few have the spare cash to pay themselves. What latent female potential could we release if we could find a way to make the benefits of coaching available to a wider audience?
16. That as long as I was running a Not-For-Profit with a public profile, sponsors, a board and members to represent, I really couldn’t be seen running around the streets with a pink “pussy power” hat on! (Not saying I actually want to – but I want the option!)
17. I’ve changed in the last 8 years, during which time I have spent literally months of my life on my own personal development journey. I’m no longer the same person I was 9 years ago when WDF was created
18. I’ve learned a lot in that time that I haven’t been able to share through WDF. I feel a real need to find a way to pass on more of my learning to others
19. That my public face has remained a largely corporate one, while in the back ground I have been exploring all sorts of alternative methodologies, it’s time to come out of the closest and be more of who I really am
20. That having one foot in the corporate world and one in the alternative world is a difficult path to tread, but tread it I must – it’s who I am!
21. How much I enjoy starting a working day with a swim and beach breakfast
Oh I could go on, but if you’re still reading then it is definitely time to get to the point about what’s coming next: –
I am thrilled and delighted to announce that Female Potential will be launching in Q2 2018 and is a whole new concept exploring our potential as women both inside and outside of work, combining both conventional and more alternative approaches.
I will write much more about Female Potential on forthcoming blogs, but for now I just want to say how grateful I am to have had the luxury of this reflection time to allow this new project to emerge.
Female Potential presents me personally with a fabulous opportunity to stretch into something different and explore my own potential. I hope to create as much of a wave in Guernsey with Female Potential as we did with WDF – with or without a pink “pussy power” hat on my head!
To receive your copy of the monthly Female Potential newsletter please sign up here – the first 20 people to sign up will receive an invitation to our launch party!
And for anyone who wants to join me in my hat wearing here is the knitting pattern for the Pussy Power Hat!