Having read ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg, some employees of Norton Rose Fulbright wondered what advice they might give their 16 year old self. With this in mind they asked London Bubble to help them facilitate a conversation with a group of 16 year old girls that explored themes of women, wellbeing and success.
Unfortunately girls from Harris Academy Bermondsey were unable to attend the session on Monday, and the group of female lawyers/corporate workers decided to continue exploring the questions separately with the intention of meeting the girls in the near future. It was agreed that an artefact would be created, to be shared at a ‘coming together’ session at a later date.
The conversation began with the group outlining the notion of a ‘successful woman’. It was interesting to note that the interpretation dealt entirely with the context of work. The responses ranged from being like a swan – bold and calm outside, kicking hard under the water, perfecting the juggling act, enjoying what she does, and having good shoes! What was evident from some of the responses was how women in the workplace design unique strategies to present an identity. An increased awareness of themselves as they reflected on how they see themselves and how others see them came across through words such as determined, focused, respected, valued, headstrong, difficult. All their responses were pegged on to an artefact representing a female.
Working in pairs, the group discussed fears and obstacles that get in the way for women on their journey. These were to be devised and shared as images amongst the group. Some of the challenges devised were not unique to women in workplace, such as the inability to convey work load priorities to Line Managers. However lack of respect from senior male colleagues, losing out on ‘gossip knowledge’ because of family responsibilities and being able to navigate the noise of life to make key decisions were some of the gender specific issues that came up.
It would be very interesting to note what comes up at the session with the young school girls, who are possibly less likely to automatically connect the success with work. If success is the accomplishment of one’s goals, they can have a very personal meaning and perhaps it would be great to explore those again with Norton Rose employees.
CLICK HERE to read about the other sessions which took place at Bubble during Creativity & Wellbeing week 2014