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Do women’s networks work?

Many of us now have the opportunity to be involved in a variety of networks within our work environments, but ICAEW Younger Members London’s Vice Chair Sophie Briars asks whether those created specifically for women serve a purpose.

"Womens

March 2019

Do you actively belong to a women’s network, or simply attend the occasional event? A brief internet search brings up a huge number of women’s networks across London and countless articles on the subject.

However, in reality, what do the members of these groups hope to achieve? The idea of women’s networks is not new; the Women’s Institute has been around since 1915 and they have stayed current by evolving with the times. The new women’s initiatives offer an array of meet-ups, skills workshops and cocktails at the latest trendy pop-up.

Over the last few years, I have attended a wide range of women’s events; both internally organised by my firm and externally organised by groups across the City. My experience at these events has been varied.

Generally, internal company networks rely on a handful of dedicated members to organise meetings and if they move on, the network’s momentum often goes with them. On the other hand, external groups often have more dedicated committees to organise gatherings and the environment is comfortable enough for you to air an opinion anonymously about your experiences without feeling judged by colleagues.

I have organised women in leadership events as part of my role as Vice Chair of ICAEW’s Younger Members London group and they are very popular, attended by both men and women. Whether their popularity will continue into the future is another question.

Given the number of groups across London, we all have the opportunity to be part of a network and reap the benefits. I think all of us are guilty of being filled with a sense of purpose after a meeting or workshop and then never capitalising on those moments, whether it be contacting someone you admired afterwards, or passing on stories and experiences to friends and colleagues.

This, for me, is the key purpose of women’s networks: sharing stories.

On that note, please do come along to ICAEW London’s next event on 18 March 2019 to listen to subject matter experts, share your experiences and network with other like-minded professionals. Book your place

Sophie Briars is Vice Chair of Younger Members London.

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