By Hannah Connolly
his morning, Squarespace and The Stack World hosted a brunch to mark the end of Women's History Month by bringing together a roomful of trailblazing women.
Though the cold snap has taken full effect in the capital, the sun shone down on Petersham Nurseries as meaningful conversations about women in leadership roles flowed.
For both The Stack World and Squarespace, though IWD and indeed Women's History Month may have drawn to a close, the conversation continues and couldn't be better illustrated than today's gathering.
On arrival, new and old connections alike jumped straight into conversation. From sharing stories of taking the plunge with launching businesses to forging new roles better aligned with their individual missions, the energy of a room filled with change-makers was palpable — and this was all before anyone had even taken their seats.
Initially, Squarespace’s own International Marketing Director, Danielle Chadha took centre stage alongside Sharmadean Reid, for an inspirational fireside chat surrounding the importance of women in leadership roles and how Squarespace's impressive 50/50 gender split C-suite was one of the reasons she joined the company.
As the coffee flowed and breakfast was served, considered conversation made for the perfect pairing. What does leadership look like to you? This was the question on everyone's lips and here are our top five takeaways…
1.) Conviction In Your Role
"Say your title with conviction." - Elizabeth Stiles
An emerging theme was the idea of conviction in the power of your title, in the inherent belief in yourself and your work and the power of this is not to be underestimated. There are a myriad of reasons that may account for self-doubt in your own authority, but what became clear from this discussion was the significance of believing in yourself and the importance of projecting that into the world.
2.) Redefining What Leadership Actually Means
“Leadership looks different to everyone. We should be more confident in ourselves, men will be really confident and we all do amazing things, it is about believing in yourself.” - Mikai McDermott
Another key topic was the idea that leadership is open to redefinition. What emerged was the shared understanding that leadership is individual, a flexible and malleable concept that can be adapted to suit you. It can be leading a creative discussion, supporting team members, or in your own time management. Being a leader should be on your terms and according to your beliefs.
3.) You Can't Be What You Can't See
“I have a club called Asian Connect, for fellow Asian entrepreneurs and professionals to meet. It is very important for me - for us - to see diversity and representation in leadership.”— Kim Darragon
In summary to this, The Stack World founder Sharmadean Reid had this to say: "you can't be what you can't see". Raising the point and the need to encourage women at all levels of their career to be visible and be given opportunities to speak publicly to their peers, senior management and junior members alike.
4.) Feeling Safe Is The Baseline
"When I am working with young women I always make sure that they are comfortable, they are okay and they are able to speak their truth.” — Jessica Morgan
Safety in the workplace is the baseline. Prioritising and ensuring women know their working environment is not only safe but also a space in which they can speak honestly and openly about concerns is paramount. In order for women to progress, be that up the ladder at the same company or in their own ways, the importance of open communication is an absolute non-negotiable.
5.) Invest In Training And Networking For Development
“When it comes to the path to leadership, investing in yourself, getting the training, going to people who are professionals, know being an entrepreneur or becoming a leader isn’t about being alone.” — Tiwalola Ogunlesi
Often the path to the top can feel like a lonely one, but from open and frank conversations, the truth is in fact quite the opposite. Put best by Sharmadean Reid, with the following: "If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together."
"You can't be what you can't see" — what happens when a room filled with trailblazing women talk about what leadership means to them? We break down the key takeaways.
By Hannah Connolly
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