As a freelance trainer for the Springboard Women’s Development Programme, I am a passionate supporter of the positive impact that it has had on so many women across the globe. I first discovered the Programme whilst a Senior Police Officer, when looking for positive action initiatives to help increase the numbers of women in senior positions.

In the early 00’s, I realised that there were a lot of very talented women in both Police Officer and Support Staff roles in our Force, but they were just not putting themselves forward for promotion or moving into specialist departments. Subsequent introduction of the programme into the force, alongside other initiatives, increased the number of women in senior positions from 8% to over 25% in a 10 year period. Thankfully the gender balance in Policing has shifted a lot more over the years, but there was certainly a lot of interest from many within the organisation when we set up a women’s network.

Reading a recent article by Judy Murray reminded me of my time in the Police and the current experience of many professional women I know – “Sport is such a male-dominated world that every workshop, conference or certification course I had previously attended was an intimidating environment. It is never easy being in a minority. I would always find a seat at the back or in a corner; I never ventured to ask or answer a question; and I dreaded being singled out for a demonstration.”

She goes on to talk about the first time she attended a coaching event that was dedicated to women’s sport and women in sport.

“This audience was predominantly female and the atmosphere was totally different. There were no egos and there was a genuine desire to network and share ideas. There was no fear of humiliation and it made me realise the power of bringing together women who have a common passion or cause and creating a positive learning environment.”

I am positive that this ‘different atmosphere’ helped the shift in my organisation, 20 years ago. We discovered then, the statistic that everyone now talks about in numerous articles – Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them, with the reason often quoted as a lower level of women’s confidence in their own abilities. Programmes such as Springboard and women – only networks encourage women more to share their experiences and concerns about things such a progression at work and leadership challenges.

It is perhaps no surprise then, that after retiring from the Police Service and setting up my own business, it should be the support and empowerment of women that I chose rather than something utilising the more traditional policing skills I had acquired. I currently run a business networking organisation for women with groups across the South-West of England. This year we are again going to hold a Conference on March 8th International Women’s Day. This year’s IWD theme is #Balance for Better, reinforcing the knowledge that Balance drives a better working world for everyone.

You can find out more about our Conference and the launch of the 2019 Successful Women Awards here – https://www.swibtribe.com/events/annual-conference-and-awards-launch

Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd

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