In the 21st Century, it may seem bizarre that there is a need to talk about women-specific training. However, the fact remains that there is a definitive need to support women in business - now, more than ever. Women are moving up the ranks but are still woefully underrepresented in almost all positions of power and decision-making in the UK.
Just 28 per cent of parliamentarians are women according to World Economic Forum (WEF) statistics. ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2017’ by WEF also shows that women are measured as having 68 per cent of the chances and outcomes that men have. It’s clear that empowering women to take charge of their own success is going to be key in narrowing this gender gap.
Gillian Jones-Williams is Managing Director of Emerge Development Consultancy and delivers courses through Optamor. She works extensively with women to help them develop and achieve higher success in business. Gillian believes that by becoming more aware of our own behaviour we can create opportunities for success both at work and within our own personal lives.
In this day and age, women-specific training is important, Gillian says: “This training is even more necessary now – as organisations push harder to get more women in senior positions those women need to be equipped to deal with the situations that occur on the route to promotions.”
Women have many more career opportunities than they did 50 or 60 years ago, and society has come a long way since the Sufragette movement, which marks its centenary this year. However, for those women who choose to have a family and a career, this lifestyle comes with a whole new set of pressures.
“More than ever,” Gillians adds, “women are juggling careers and families and often need time out to think about what they want from life and how to manage their commitments.”
Opportunities for self-empowerment
So how can women help themselves and what opportunities are out there to empower them on their path to success? This is where coaching and training sessions come in – with specific tailored sessions to guide and inspire women from all backgrounds and provide them the tools they need to break through the glass ceiling, manage stress better and balance their work and home life.
Gillian says her courses are designed to help women look further into themselves. She says: “Individuals can discover a whole new sense of who they are, their strengths, their goals, their beliefs and how their career desires may change over time as a woman.”
In addition, she provides tips on how to manage their behaviour, different behaviours in other people, how to plan to deal with difficult situations and how to assert themselves by using their emotional intelligence and how to plan their careers.
The traits of successful women
Gillian believes that there are eight key traits that successful women exhibit. Through her courses she helps participants to unlock these. She has designed a new model called Elev8, which outlines the key skills that can help make a woman successful. These include assertiveness, optimism, visualisation of success and tenacity.
Paula Reid is an inspirational speaker, author and adventurer who has skied to the South Pole and sailed around the world in the Global Challenge. She concurs with Gillian on the traits that are essential for success. She says: “I believe that successful women are, in themselves, comfortable with who they are and where they are going. They may have different traits, personality types, skills and experience, but essentially they are strong in themselves; in who they are and what they are about, which in turn, enables the success.”
Paula talks about being comfortable in your own skin and being confident in your own vision and direction, this, she says is more about having the right attitude than having knowledge or skill: “I think women in particular need that sense of undiluted identity – brand, self-belief and purpose – more so than in comparison with men perhaps.”
Paula has seen these traits in herself. She may have had to dig deep to find them but her own personal resilience has helped her endure the most grueling of challenges.
“I never realised how much depth we had inside us until I had to go there looking. And then, when I felt I had got to the bottom of my well of resources, I have discovered even more depth of resilience there. We are more amazing and capable than we realise.”
One of the toughest situations Paula had to deal with was when she skied full distance from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. One thousand kilometres, 46 days, uphill 3,300m, into the wind in -40 degrees plus wind chill.
“I got ‘Polar Thigh’ from Day seven. It took five months on my return before the bandages came off, which gives you an idea of how bad a state my legs were in. I just had to keep digging deep. This included: being constructive and positive; having short survival goals; managing the ‘brain’ (attitude) as well as the pain and remembering that ‘pain is temporary, pride is forever’.”
Can this self-belief be taught? Paula and Gillian both agree it can. They have both used their own experiences to help many other women realise their potential, both here and abroad. The women’s development programmes that Gllian leads focus on visibility, networking and beliefs. She explains that by helping women to programme their brain and change their beliefs we can help them to have far more confidence: “This can help in little ways, whether it’s pushing themselves out of their comfort zone or bigger, in terms of having crucial conversations with people and dealing with conflict.”
Paula focuses on igniting a passion within women to help them realise their own potential. She says: “My intention is to ignite, inspire and empower with my presentations – not intimidate or impress.”
For Paula, ignition means firing up a passion, realisation or reminder that everyone has the capability to be amazing - and that life is amazing. She finishes: “The ‘inspiration’ is through the science and the stories; and the ‘empower’ is through the strategy, tactics and tools – supported by action planning, coaching and commitments to do things differently, so that everyone can be a better version of themselves.”
Inspired? To discover how our courses can help empower and support women in business, take a look at the great range of presentations and upcoming sessions we’re offering.