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Feminism: chat

Starting a Women's Group at work

16 replies

WifeMotherWorkRepeat · 21/05/2022 08:04

Hi, are any of you part of a Woman’s group at work?
I’m starting this thread in the hope of getting some inspiration and ideas on content, structure and objectives.
If you’re not in such a group is this an initiative you would like to see in your workplace, and what would you want the group to be like and what would you like the content to cover?

OP posts:

BraveryBot9to5 · 21/05/2022 08:36

pERSONally, I'd like this. I'd happily take help from the much younger women.

ie how do I translate the experience I definitely have in to a slick demonstration of the required competencies? there are people half my age who've done this. They could help me, but often all of the organised focus is on helping the younger people.

My line manager is 19 years younger than I am, she's a good line manager though, I can see that, I have no passive aggressive resentment leaking out but I would some of the focused organised determination to help the 20 somethings directed at older women!

So, a focus on genuine fairness would be good in a group like this. Ask who wants what, who needs what? How far do you want to go? or do you want a change? or a career break?

I read viv glosskopf's book about lifting women up (can't remember the exact title) and that's who I want to be. I enjoyed it. That's who I'd be if i were successful.

I am not high enough up the food chain to help other women but I can contribute to a culture of not gossiping, blaming, being passively aggressive etc I do what I can to foster ''inclusion'' and harmony.

That's all I can do. I know there's always going to be somebody better than I am, always! always! Because I'm not that ambitious and I'm no genius but I'm a conscientious hard worker and I don't want to be over looked.

If I could talk to myself at 25 I'd say, try to be less reactionary at work. I can see looking around me that the women who've been helped to succeed, they don't seem to have any visible reaction to anything, no matter how shit, the huge work load, the staff leaving en masse, the processes that we weren't allowed to trim.... they didn't visibly react it seemed to me. In my youth I was that woman getting noticeably frustrated by the lack of communication/lack of resources/excessive workload. Always hide your frustration I'd advise my younger self.


WifeMotherWorkRepeat · 21/05/2022 10:03

Hi BraveryBot9to5,

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post. I have taken on board your lived experience and suggestions for what you would want, they are great!
Why don’t you pitch the idea at your place of work of having a Womens Networking Group as an employee driven initiative with the backing and support of HR and the Executive Management? It’s never too late and hierarchy for something like this is irrelevant.

OP posts:

TheFoxAndTheStar · 21/05/2022 10:12

Yes, I have started two, at very different organisations.

One was a smallish (500 person) company which was entirely male owned/led but they really genuinely wanted to be inclusive, so the group was about organising and feeding back about what needed to change.

The other, entirely the other end of the spectrum. Huge multinational and it’s about empowerment, sponsorship (rather than mentoring), making role models and career paths visible, educating allies, challenging assumptions.

what I would say is make room for the informal as well as the formal. Opportunities for people to have their voices heard, even if just is a small way, because it can build from that.


OchonAgusOchonOh · 21/05/2022 10:20

We have one and I rarely attend anything they organise as it's mainly about the organisers progressing their own careers. They certainly don't support women who don't fit in to their narrow idea of how your career should progress. They do an occasional talk or event that is useful/intereesting.

I would suggest polling the women in your organisation to see what they would like to get out of it. As part of the poll, you could include some ideas based on other groups that work well. You'll probably get some great ideas here.


WifeMotherWorkRepeat · 21/05/2022 10:55

Hi TheFoxAndTheStar,

Do you have any real life examples of workshops, breakout groups or initiatives that really worked?
We are starting from scratch so I’m very keen to hear success stories that we can draw inspiration from and steer us in the right direction in terms of what does and doesn’t work.

OP posts:

WifeMotherWorkRepeat · 21/05/2022 10:58

Hi OchonAgusOchonOh,

I’m sorry to hear your experience has been less than positive and is exactly why I started this thread as I’m sure you’re not alone… great initiative poorly executed.
I am determined to make this work and for this group to benefit everyone, not just a few executive sponsors!!

OP posts:

OchonAgusOchonOh · 21/05/2022 11:55

WifeMotherWorkRepeat · 21/05/2022 10:58

Hi OchonAgusOchonOh,

I’m sorry to hear your experience has been less than positive and is exactly why I started this thread as I’m sure you’re not alone… great initiative poorly executed.
I am determined to make this work and for this group to benefit everyone, not just a few executive sponsors!!

That's fantastic. Good on you.


EBearhug · 21/05/2022 13:57

Yes. I am a member, and have been part of the committee, but I stepped down last year when they went to womxn rather than woman, and I don't feel our values are quite matching these days. It's a multinational corporate.

It has been immensely useful; they've run info sessions on different areas of the business, most of which I have nothing to do with on a daily basis. They've also profiled women leaders and had them discuss their career paths. I was seconded to a project for 18 months because of one of the woman I met through it, and her seeing my skills. I've had access to mentoring, training and conferences through it, and been able to organise events and teams through it, opportunities I wouldn't get in my day job. I've also had access to other people to advise me when my own dear department were being arseholes (very techy, and I'm the only woman.)

They have recently (since covid started, i think - time's less memorable in recent years,) changed the rules on how the Employee Resource Groups are run, which means those of us not in senior positions now have fewer opportunities to be involved as leaders, and it also seems to be moving back to the US forgetting there are also thousands of us in EMEA, AsiaPac and LatAm, and we don't all operate exactly as they do in the USA, nor have the same employment laws or societal pressures to deal with.

I think you need to know what your aims are -don't focus only on execs - people lower down need support, and to see there are career paths. Is it about mentoring, sponsoring, networking, education, supporting external organisations... ? It can be some or all of these things, but some of this depends on your budget (we had a brilliant women's conference a few years ago, but not been given the budget for that again.)

Some of it will depend on your industry- we're in tech, so there are known issues with women in STEM, and part of me thinks we don't need to do anything for the women, but should be educating all the men to see we are valid members of the workplace, just as capable technically, managerially, etc, if not more so.

And a lot will depend on who you have to work on it and what time you're allowed to give. There's no point trying to run 20 brilliant ideas for events if there are only 3 of you and you're only allowed to give 2 hours a week to it. Better to do fewer things really well and build up from there, and show the value. As other posts show, it not always a good thing, but if done well, can really enhance the working environment.


Lavenderlast · 21/05/2022 14:26

I’ve only been to one and it was like some bizarre group therapy session for moany people. Was not a good advert for women! So don’t let it become that 🤣

I would have enjoyed a monthly meet comprising a short (20min?) talk followed by networking coffees and pastries. Talks I would have been interested in could have discussed issues like:

  • advice on career progression routes for those whose family commitments prevent them working long hours,
  • suggestions for how to network with potential clients without having the older male clients assume the younger female enthusiastically chatting to them in the pubwas romantically interested,
  • Legal rights eg the right to return to the same job/desk after maternity leave
  • Sex based rights
  • How to bring in work to the business without a boys club


AllAloneInThisHouse · 21/05/2022 19:09

Please don’t make mostly/all about mothers.
I find these ”women empowerment” things often exclude childfree and single women.


Boood · 21/05/2022 19:59

I considered starting a women’s group at work, but I know if I did I’d immediately come up against the obvious, and I just can’t be bothered being a lightning rod for every single little woke arsehole who fancies having a pop at an older woman to further their career. I’m focusing on the micro-level instead. Quietly making changes in the areas I can influence, and keeping an eye out for sympathetic/interested women who I can then point at proper feminist groups outside work.


Nutellaspoon · 21/05/2022 20:02

I think the best women's networks are politically active in the organisation. They lobby for changes to process, they don't just harp on about women needing to be better.


CMOTDibbler · 21/05/2022 20:19

I'm part of one which runs across the global company - there are different sub groups like mentoring, research, coaching, peer support and then region specific ones. I think it works as its a big enough company to have a lot of different voices, and as we are tech there are quite a lot of isolated women so it really does give you a network


WTF475878237NC · 16/06/2022 05:41

How are you getting on OP?


Charlize43 · 17/06/2022 21:06

Strong emphasis on women being nicer to each other. I've seen so much Queen Bee-ism and nasty petty bullying in the work place, enough to last a lifetime.

My suggestion would be lifting all the lower grade women by offering them career mentoring by the women higher up in senior management. It's a great way for them to show their commitment to the advancement of women in general.

We had a women's group in my last workplace but it soon became very cliquey and soon degenerated into bitching about the men in a really petty way, all the time. Them and Us. For me, that's the unattractive side of feminism and the women who weren't interested in that, including myself, soon left it. I mean, who wants to go into work and hear moaning and ripping of colleagues to shreds because of their gender or because Frank didn't wipe the counter after his turn making the tea because he's a man?! There's nothing positive in that.


AllAloneInThisHouse · 17/06/2022 23:08

Strong emphasis on women being nicer to each other.

This would make me run to the other direction so fast!
All women I’ve know who are about women supporting women, be nice, girl power!
have always been the meanist people ever.

What you said about cliquey reminded me:
OP, make sure the moms don’t put them on the pedastal and start demanding extra effort.
You have to nib that shit in the bud.
They only get worse and so fast too.

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