Lessons from the Hidden Workforce

Images taken during The Inaugural Wafinder Woman Event at East Sussex National Golf Course. 22APR2016

Seven national and internationally successful speakers came to Uckfield for a rare event in the Sussex calendar as WayfinderWoman hosted their inaugural conference at the East Sussex National on Friday 22 April.

Titled ‘The Hidden Workforce: Releasing Talent the aim was to inspire women to think they could do more and to encourage businesses to rethink how they support women in the workplace so they could access that talent and grow their business.   There’s 2.4million women out there who want to work but are unable to because of hidden barriers. The first job then was to inspire and the second to motivate people to think differently.

And the conference certainly succeeded in doing that! The buzz was palpable in the packed hall and social media was on fire   as over 120 leaders from across Sussex heard from the speakers about how they succeeded, the issues they’d overcome and the opportunities available out there if people followed their passion.

The stellar speaker list included Anji Hunter, special adviser for Edelman, the largest PR company in the world and former ‘gatekeeper’ for Tony Blair’s government.  Her take away was “Aim high, work hard.  The barriers are down so go for it”.

Anji was quickly followed by Penina Shepherd, founder of multi-award winning Acumen Business Law.  Her take-away: “Follow your purpose and passion, work out your employee’s dream and match it with your company.”

Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden spoke of how she came from a family who’s parents were illiterate to become the first female MP for Wealden and the first female Muslim MP in the Conservative party.  her take-away “Take the risk, find your niche, network and build your own brand.”

Daryl Gayler, Regional Director for the RBS group spoke of the entrepreneurial spark and the incubator hub that’s been set up in Brighton.  His take-away “Get the entrepreneurial mindset.  The future is what we want to make of it.”

Then there was Julia Barfield,MBE, the entrepreneur responsible for the London Eye and Brighton i360.  Her take away: “The construction industry is lagging behind in flexible working – be brave, and assume you can do anything you want to.”

Katy Bourne, Sussex PCC and formerly a highly successful businesswoman spoke about how she started from scratch and had to fight to grow her business.  Katy’s take away “It’s never no for ever, it’s only no for today.”

And then finally, Penny Mallory, TV presenter and former world rally driver champion.  Her take-away “Start the race thinking that there’s a new limit to reach.”

The feedback after the event was tremendous and  everyone was looking forward to us WayfinderWoman hosting something similar next year.  That may well happen.  WayfinderWoman is run by volunteers and none of this could have happened without them and the support given by the sponsors, particularly Parker Building Supplies who fully embraced what WayfinderWoman wanted to do.  Who knows what exciting things they might get up to with more help!

It’s clear that WayfinderWoman is making a difference and has tapped into a powerful meme.  To move forward it is looking for more volunteers.  Do you want to be involved? If so get in touch. 

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