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The BCI Women in Resilience (WiR) group hosted a hybrid event recently, to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.  This summary, provided by the group, highlights key items from the event…

The ‘Celebrate our journey to breaking the glass ceiling’ event focused on the critical issue of breaking the glass ceiling, an invisible yet significant barrier that women and minority groups have been facing in the workplace for decades. It is a barrier that prevents them from advancing and reaching top-level positions in their careers. Despite recent efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, progress has been painfully slow.

Did you know that only 7.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and just 37 of them are women of colour? Women hold only 24 CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies, and out of those, only one is a black woman. Moreover, in the S&P 500, women account for only 6.6 percent of CEO positions, which is a slight increase from five percent in 2019, but still very low. These statistics highlight the need to address the barriers that women and minority groups continue to face in their professional lives. According to the Center for American Progress, companies with diverse management teams have 19 percent higher revenue due to innovation, and diverse companies are more likely to attract top talent. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of women in leadership roles. Countries led by women were found to have fewer COVID-19-related deaths, highlighting the importance of diverse leadership.

At the event, a diverse range of speakers shared their journeys, challenges, and successes in breaking the glass ceiling. They shared inspiring stories of how they overcame the invisible barriers to reach top-level positions in their careers. Their experiences highlight the importance of continued efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the need for more support for women and minority groups to advance professionally.

The event opened with Milena Maneva and Bethany Warren, WiR Events Committee members, welcoming both in-person and virtual attendees and introducing the topic for the session. They thanked the event sponsor, Google, and the hosts, Dylan Shaw, Linsey Torode, and Charlene Clee, as well as the prize sponsor Dr. Aarti Anhal at ‘before nine’.

Keynote speakers Heather Merchan, BCI Chair of The Board of Directors, and Jasmiina Rousu, the first Future Leader on the BCI Board of Directors, opened the session and discussed the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in creating a more inclusive environment for BCI members.

The individual speaker sessions provided in-depth discussions of the challenges and experiences of panellists in their respective fields. Krysta Broughton-Munford shared her journey of resilience as a mother, applying anecdotes and experiences to the principles of resilience. Claire Hunt spoke about working in the Middle East and adapting to being the only female in the room, sharing her tips for managing imposter syndrome. Stephanie Castro shared her career journey and tips for promoting business continuity within organizations. Olly Winter (they/them) spoke about their experience as a transgender and non-binary individual and the importance of challenging ourselves and our organizations in how we approach diversity, equity, and inclusion. Abigail Abimbola discussed her career journey and the importance of having role models and a support network, highlighting the need for a safe space for black business continuity professionals.

The event's speakers left attendees with several key takeaways, including the importance of seizing opportunities, the need for support in managing imposter syndrome, the benefits of networking and having role models in senior positions, and the importance of being true to oneself. They also highlighted the value of women's natural traits in leadership and crisis management, such as being practical, flexible, adaptable, reflective, and nurturing, while recognizing and being aware of biases that affect women. The event ended with attendees feeling inspired and empowered to break the glass ceiling and create a more inclusive workplace for all.

Key takeaways from individual speaker sessions and the panel discussion included:

  • Take every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where it may lead you and what you may learn from it.
  • Everyone has a role to play in breaking the glass ceiling, regardless of their gender or background. Allies can play a powerful role in supporting and advocating for underrepresented groups.
  • Imposter syndrome is common and it's important to acknowledge it and seek support from others. Be unapologetically yourself.
  • Networking is crucial for career growth and success in the industry.
  • Having role models in senior positions who represent diversity and inclusivity is important for aspiring leaders to resonate with.
  • Embrace your authentic self and recognize that it is your biggest strength.
  • Utilize natural women traits in leadership and crisis management, such as being practical, flexible, adaptable, reflective, and nurturing.
  • Be aware of biases and stereotypes that may hold you back, such as women being less likely to apply for a job if they don't meet all the requirements.
  • Legislation around quotas has helped move the gender discussion forward, but we need to continue to question why 30/40 percent representation is enough and how trans and non-binary individuals fit into the conversation. Intersectionality needs to be considered.
  • Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but crucial for businesses to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Companies with more diverse teams have been shown to perform better and be more innovative.
  • Challenging the status quo is not easy, but it is necessary. It takes courage to speak up and push for change, but progress cannot be made without it.
  • Intersectionality is important to consider in the fight for greater representation and inclusion. It's not just about gender, but also about race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, and more.
  • Change takes time, but it is happening. While progress may be slow, it is important to celebrate the wins and keep pushing forward. Every step forward counts.

Find out more about the Women in Resilience group.

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