“Sometimes it takes a woman to open the door so that another woman would walk through it” - Lady Barbara Judge
I became very troubled back in September 2016 around barriers, in particular, the barriers that effect women in the workplace. Because ultimately, all the research and data was telling me that it is extremely likely that along with other women of my age, I will not achieve my career goals. This really really bothered me and I began to look around at the male-dominated business and industry that I was working in and I felt isolated. It troubled me even more when I began talking to professional women about the issues that were being written about, as they were feeling similar feelings, some had even gotten to the point of feeling hopeless, convinced that their industry was never going to change and therefore the ambition and drive they once had for their profession was receding over time.
I could not see where the pipeline of women leaders was going to come from because women who are currently at the bottom of the career ladder, or even mid-way up the career ladder were telling me that they can’t see how it is possible to progress and cope with a leadership role in the current male-dominated culture of their businesses.
Clearly there is a disconnect between junior women and women who are leading businesses. Junior women have questions and they don’t feel like they have anyone who they can ask for real answers, yet I know there are plenty of experienced women who want to help make it easier for other women to reach leadership positions in a variety of industries.
Therefore I saw an opportunity to create a bridge, to facilitate change and promote an environment of collaboration rather than competition, helping more women to enter the leadership pipeline.
So, High Flying Women was born.
High Flying Women is a great excuse for like-minded women to get together, get to know each other and be honest about their professional and personal ambitions; I want to start of revolution of hope, hope that women don’t have to sacrifice family to succeed professionally, and equally don’t have to sacrifice careers to have a successful family life. I want women to feel like no matter what has happened up to this point, they can still change their situations and achieve their dreams. We also bring in ‘real’ models as part of this (rather than role models who can sometimes make us feel like a million miles away from where we need to be.) We appreciate that not everyone aspires to be the leader of a business, so whatever the goal is, we want to help our members achieve it. We all have the right to feel powerful, productive, empowered, valuable, belonging and in control of our own lives.
High Flying Women is all about providing support, inspiring and pushing each other, helping each other as much as we can to maximise our potential. It’s connecting female professionals and business leaders for collective success. What’s great is that within the network there are a range of women working across 50 industries and of varying levels of seniority - all in one room, all with the same drive for change.
High Flying Women really is a long term initiative with collaboration as the focus where you get as much as you give. We are striving for real societal change - to increase the number of female leaders and to narrow the Gender Pay Gap.
So I hope you feel as fired up reading that introduction as I did writing it! If you’re wondering how you become a member, you simply come along to one of our events. We bring our members together on a regular basis, roughly once a month, to meet other like-minded women and engage in discussions related to the challenges we face as women, coming up with solutions together that are tailored to our own personal circumstances, or just to have a good time.
We run both skill based workshops and more social events where networking is the focus.
I want High Flying Women to be a group where you can have your say. To help women achieve their goals, it’s important to know what the barriers are that the women within our group are specifically struggling with at the moment, so ideas for events and topics are always welcome.
Who’s in it?
Since officially launching the network in February, we have 88 members and an even wider mailing list. It’s great to see so many women want to get involved and help each other to be in better positions than they currently are in. We’ve had events on confidence, imposter syndrome, work life balance/integration, time management to name a few, and are looking forward to hearing from health and fitness professionals and colour consultants, as well as discussing important topics like negotiating your salary.
High Flying Women also operates a mentoring scheme. All the research and experts tell us that women have a much higher chance of reaching leadership positions and achieving their career goals if they have a mentor. Moreover, studies have shown that women who found mentors through formal programmes were 50% more likely to be promoted than women who found mentors on their own, so the proof is in the pudding.
Within our scheme anyone can be a mentor or mentee, irrespective of seniority and industry. We encourage members to make the decision based on who it is they have met within the network who they want to learn from / help develop and who they want to form a relationship with.
A big part of High Flying Women is collaboration. It’s all about a willingness to ‘pay it forward.’ Everyone is encouraged to spread the word to the High Flying Women they meet along the way.
The collaboration extends beyond our members and to those who externally may want to collaborate with us. The main way is through sponsorship, and we have had businesses collaborate through delivering talks or services or hosting us - it’s been fantastic to see so many supportive businesses who have the opportunity to support us and be put in front of our group of wonderful ladies and wider online audience - and, of course, we are always keen to hear from businesses who want to get on board and see the network grow even further.
Ultimately, instead of looking at each other as competition, we should all try to open as many doors for each other as we can. That way instead of one or two women trickling down the leadership pipeline as is happening currently, we can flood the leadership pipeline with women.
“Wow looks like you've hit a cord with many women already… Already many networking groups run for & by women but most lack any sort of focus or ambition.”
“Last night was a great event thanks Bethan Jepson here's to many more!”
“Great conversations and fantastic resources. Looking forward to the next one!”
Contact Bethan Jepson to be added to the High Flying Women mailing list.