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Karren Brady

Five Books for World Book Day, By Women and For Women

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Today is World Book Day, and with International Women’s Day tomorrow, and Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look through a lens that applies to all three together.
As a result, I wanted to share with you five books, by women and for women, that have all made big, big differences in the lives of women.

 

1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers – quite simply, this book has changed the lives of millions. In it, Susan Jeffers shows how to do just what it says on the cover – overcome your fears and develop your inner power, energy and enthusiasm, so that you can get back on track with striving towards the life you want to lead.

 

2. In a Different Voice, by Carol Gilligan – this is the book that changed the dialogue about men and women, helping give women their own voice by legitimizing the recognition that theirs was a ‘different voice’, in a cultural context that had been almost exclusively developed and defined by men. The repercussions of Carol Gilligan’s seminal ideas continue to resonate through the generations.

 

3. Mindset, by Carol Dweck – this book represents the culmination of Carol Dweck’s lifetime work to show us that our mindset determines our destiny far more than our genetics in so many ways. With a message that is equally powerful for men or women, Dweck highlights how a ‘growth mindset’ encourages us to work hard, persevere, learn and develop. In contrast, its opposite, a ‘fixed mindset’, can leave us fragile, vulnerable and defensive when things don’t go our way. If you want to work on being better in life, work on your mindset.

 

4. Strong Woman, by Karren Brady – “Karren Brady gave me the permission to know that it was alright to work and to be a mum – that you could do both, and do both well” was how one woman described this book to me. A role model to many women, Karren Brady makes my list for the inspiration she provides to modern women who are striving to find the balance and integration that allows them to have the best of all worlds.

 

5. Difficult Mothers, by Terri Apter – with a quirky counterpoint on Mother’s Day, this is a brilliant book for anyone who struggles with their relationship with their mother. Terri Apter does a stunning job of unpacking the relationship dynamics that can be created by difficult mothers, and what we can do to overcome them. For the record, this certainly was not my experience – anyone who has read Average to A+ might remember my mother, Hilary, being described as a paragon of the Unconditionality strength.

 

My list is personal and idiosyncratic, not definitive, so I very much welcome your views as well.

 

What are the major books that have influenced you, and why?

 

Let us know by sharing your Comment on The Capp Blog below.

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Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Leaders – Financial Mail Women’s Forum

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

I’m delighted to share with you Capp Director Nicky Garcea’s latest blog for Financial Mail Women’s Forum, which is all about inspiring the next generation of female leaders:

 

“Thank goodness for the Olympic Games. Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Adlington are three of the most talked about members of Team GB from the London 2012 Olympic Games, and quite rightly so! Nicky Garcea, director at Capp, leading strengths-based people management consultancy, explores how our environmental surroundings, social norms and expectations create powerful but unwitting subliminal messages which have a huge impact on young women’s career aspirations, choices and subsequently their desire to become successful female leaders….”

 

To read the rest of Nicky’s blog, visit the Financial Mail Women’s Forum website.

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It’s Time to Stand Up for the ‘F’ Word

Posted by: Nicky Garcea, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

My grandmother, Joy, is 89. She is a fierce advocate of women voting; she also believes you should never tell your husband who you voted for. She remembers the suffragettes, she remembers women starving and dying for the vote, she is not afraid to call herself a feminist.

 

Today, things have come a long way from the early years of what my grandmother remembers. Personally, it wasn’t until I took my first consulting role that I started to notice that there were fewer women in the organisations I visited. One Sunday evening in the business class lounge at Charles de Gaulle it dawned on me, ‘I am the only woman, other than air stewardess, boarding this flight’.

 

I can’t accept any more that things are the same for women in business as they are for men. I am committed to shamelessly supporting and nurturing female talent. The following blog, published in Training Journal, asks whether it is time for more of us to stand up for the ‘F’ word.

 

When Annie Lennox addressed business leaders on the centenary of international women day on 8 March 2011, she asked all the feminists to stand. The room’s response was stillness, few women stood and supported ‘feminism’. Despite the support for feminism growing internationally at a political level, it is something which UK female business leaders seek to disassociate themselves from.

 

Frequently, women are apprehensive when offered female specific development, reluctant at the thought of attending a programme that might label them as ‘different’ or that would single them out. So there is a growing tension in organisations between wanting to develop women and support their progression, while at the same time not doing it in a way that is overtly ‘feminine’ or ‘feminist’.

 

The danger of not developing emerging female talent is that nothing will change and the workforce will not evolve. In Karren Brady’s autobiography Strong Woman, Brady references how on International Women’s Day each year, she attends an event hosted at Downing Street and typically she sees the same faces year on year.

 

This happens in business, and is something we see time and time again. In Capp’s Female Leaders Programme, we have a ‘Learn from the Leader’ speaker slot, and in most organisations where this is run, there are only one or two senior females who can fill this slot!

 

So what can we do? How can we change this?

 

Firstly, I think we have to know the facts. Male employees are still leading the way in personal development and career progression, while little support is given to younger women to advance the career ladder. Despite more women graduating with MBA’s, far fewer actually make it into work. And, with many companies and public sector organisations currently re-organising, it is the female talent pipeline being hit the hardest.

 

In difficult economic times, budgets to support female talent development are either non-existent or are being significantly squeezed, but this shouldn’t be a business’ excuse for doing nothing. A combination of well-informed leaders and managers and strengths-based self-support for emerging female leaders can be a successful development fusion.

 

In our view, three groups of people can champion female talent development:

 

Leaders:

 

Specifically set out to sponsor the development of several of the emerging female leaders in your organisation. Be aware of the women around you that would benefit from your mentorship or sponsorship. Let them know why you will sponsor them and what they can expect from you.

 

Recent research by Harvard University found that women consistently seek out mentors and sponsors of less power and status than their male colleagues, instantly limiting their access to the most senior individuals in an organisation. So the more senior you are, the lower you might consider reaching down into your talent pipeline; it will have the longest sustainable impact.

 

Managers:

 

Be aware that women will typically behave differently than their male colleagues when it comes to approaching their development. Research conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management on senior leaders, found that half of women surveyed experienced feelings of self-doubt about their performance and career, but only 31 per cent of men reported the same. The research also revealed that women tend not to put themselves forward for promotion: 20 per cent of men said they would apply for a role despite only partially meeting its job description, compared to only 14 per cent of women. Couple this with studies from Aston University which highlight that women are more apologetic in meetings and that managers have a critical role to play in developing women’s confidence and offering regular feedback on influencing styles and profile.

 

Women:

 

Know your strengths and power.

 

Early in our careers we often can get bogged down ‘gap filling’, focusing on weaknesses. Although critical areas for development shouldn’t be ignored, this shouldn’t be to the detriment of excelling the development of strengths.

 

Be aware that investing in developing your strengths will impact your confidence, self-esteem and capacity to achieve your goals. Similarly, studies have also shown that when women understand their different power bases, they are better able to use them than their male colleagues.

 

This ultimately will mean that although business is more competitive, strengths and power base development offer you a winning combination for success.

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Where Should We Find the Women? Overcoming the Unwitting Sexism that Surrounds Us (Part 4)

Posted by: Nicky Garcea and Alex Linley, as part of Capp’s Female Leaders Month (June 2012)

 

In our blog posts over the course of this week, we have explored the role of subliminal messaging and unconscious bias in creating the impression of the social roles that women should take in society.

 

These subliminal messages and unconscious biases are all the more pernicious for this very reason – because they are subliminal and unconscious. But the real opportunity is to harness their power, turning it to our advantage through acknowledging and celebrating the role of women in our society.

 

While we can’t re-write history, we can ensure that our future female generations are not so overtly subjected to the absence of celebrated and successful women in the environments in which they grow up.

 

Here are a handful of ideas for how this could happen.

 

1. The media should be challenged with ensuring that women are appropriately represented across their content. When no sportswomen are put forward for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, it sends the message that no woman was worthy. Are we really saying that half of our sporting population simply wasn’t good enough – and the entire female half at that?

 

2. Public platforms and other profile events should be encouraged to take on the mantle of championing female achievement and success, as a counterweight to rebalance the weight of the subliminal messages that otherwise exist. Can we work that bit harder to acknowledge, celebrate and remember the work of female role models in everyday life? This can happen in the media, in schools, by parents, in communities and within the world of business. Who are the successful women in your family, in your community, in your network? Take active steps to celebrate them, share their names and achievements, and recognise their successes as a first step to inspiring other women to do the same. After all, men have had the benefit of this subliminal inspiration for generations.

 

3. Companies and organisations should recognise that there is an explicit need specifically to support and develop women. Women should be offered more opportunities to develop early in their careers. They should be helped to understand how they can equip themselves to influence with power and impact, recognising the challenges they might face, but also embracing the opportunities to develop, to change and to make a positive difference.

 

4. Calling all town planners and building developers. What would it take for a few of our future streets to celebrate more women, for example, ‘Dame Kelly Holmes Drive’,  ‘Tessa Sanderson Street’, ‘Rebecca Adlington Way’, ‘Jessica Ennis Avenue’? Will we see this in our lifetime? With the further re-development of east London following the London 2012 Olympics, what a great opportunity we have for an Olympic legacy that goes beyond sport, building a legacy to great British women as well.

 

5. Women should be champions of helping other women. There is the well-recognised ‘Old Boys’ Network’ that makes things happen for men. In the 21st Century, isn’t it time that we started to develop the ‘Young Women’s Network’ to support making things happen for women? Unfortunately, women being champions of other women doesn’t happen enough. But now, with the leadership of female figureheads including Karren Brady, the momentum for change is building…

 

With these five ideas, our aim was to get your thinking started. What else would you add to this list? Let us know by sharing your Comments on The Capp Blog, and watch out for future posts as we build more on this hugely important topic.

 

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