Post-Event Summary BCI WiR Hybrid Event - Celebrate our journey to breaking the glass ceiling
The BCI Women in Resilience (WiR) group hosted a powerful hybrid event on March 21, 2023, to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
The event focused on the critical issue of breaking the glass ceiling, an invisible yet significant barrier that women and minority groups have been facing in the workplace for decades. It is a barrier that prevents them from advancing and reaching top-level positions in their careers. Despite recent efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, progress has been painfully slow.
Did you know that only 7.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and just 37 of them are women of colour? Women hold only 24 CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies, and out of those, only 1 is a black woman. Moreover, in the S&P 500, women account for only 6.6% of CEO positions, which is a slight increase from 5% in 2019, but still very low. These statistics highlight the need to address the barriers that women and minority groups continue to face in their professional lives. According to the Center for American Progress, companies with diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation, and diverse companies are more likely to attract top talent. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of women in leadership roles. Countries led by women were found to have fewer COVID-19-related deaths, highlighting the importance of diverse leadership.
At the event, our diverse range of speakers shared their journeys, challenges, and successes in breaking the glass ceiling. They shared inspiring stories of how they overcame the invisible barriers to reach top-level positions in their careers. Their experiences highlight the importance of continued efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the need for more support for women and minority groups to advance professionally.
The event opened with Milena Maneva and Bethany Warren, WiR Events Committee members, welcoming both in-person and virtual attendees and introducing the topic for the session. They thanked the event sponsor, Google, and our hosts, Dylan Shaw, Linsey Torode, and Charlene Clee, as well as our prize sponsor Dr. Aarti Anhal at ‘before nine’
Keynote speakers Heather Merchan, BCI Chair of The Board of Directors, and Jasmiina Rousu, the first Future Leader on the BCI Board of Directors, opened the session and discussed the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in creating a more inclusive environment for BCI members. We were grateful to host Heather and Jasmiina virtually and glad that technology worked seamlessly as if they were right there with us in person.
The individual speaker sessions provided in-depth discussions of the challenges and experiences of our panellists in their respective fields. Krysta Broughton-Munford shared her journey of resilience as a mother, applying anecdotes and experiences to the principles of resilience. Claire Hunt spoke about working in the Middle East and adapting to being the only female in the room, sharing her tips for managing imposter syndrome. Stephanie Castro shared her career journey and tips for promoting Business Continuity within organizations. Olly Winter (they/them) spoke about their experience as a transgender and non-binary individual and the importance of challenging ourselves and our organizations in how we approach diversity, equity, and inclusion. Abigail Abimbola discussed her career journey and the importance of having role models and a support network, highlighting the need for a safe space for black business continuity professionals.
The event's speakers left attendees with several key takeaways, including the importance of seizing opportunities, the need for support in managing imposter syndrome, the benefits of networking and having role models in senior positions, and the importance of being true to oneself. They also highlighted the value of women's natural traits in leadership and crisis management, such as being practical, flexible, adaptable, reflective, and nurturing, while recognizing and being aware of biases that affect women. The event ended with attendees feeling inspired and empowered to break the glass ceiling and create a more inclusive workplace for all.
Key takeaways from our individual speaker sessions and the panel discussion included:
- Take every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where it may lead you and what you may learn from it.
- Everyone has a role to play in breaking the glass ceiling, regardless of their gender or background. Allies can play a powerful role in supporting and advocating for underrepresented groups.
- Imposter syndrome is common and it's important to acknowledge it and seek support from others. Be unapologetically yourself.
- Networking is crucial for career growth and success in the industry.
- Having role models in senior positions who represent diversity and inclusivity is important for aspiring leaders to resonate with.
- Embrace your authentic self and recognize that it is your biggest strength.
- Utilize natural women traits in leadership and crisis management, such as being practical, flexible, adaptable, reflective, and nurturing.
- Be aware of biases and stereotypes that may hold you back, such as women being less likely to apply for a job if they don't meet all the requirements.
- Legislation around quotas has helped move the gender discussion forward, but we need to continue to question why 30/40% representation is enough and how trans and non-binary individuals fit into the conversation. Intersectionality needs to be considered.
- Diversity and inclusion are not just buzzwords but crucial for businesses to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Companies with more diverse teams have been shown to perform better and be more innovative.
- Challenging the status quo is not easy, but it is necessary. It takes courage to speak up and push for change, but progress cannot be made without it.
- Intersectionality is important to consider in the fight for greater representation and inclusion. It's not just about gender, but also about race, ethnicity, sexuality, ability, and more.
- Change takes time, but it is happening. While progress may be slow, it is important to celebrate the wins and keep pushing forward. Every step forward counts.
We're thrilled to announce the winners of our gold and silver ticket prizes, generously provided by Dr. Aarti Anhal, founder of 'before nine'. During the event, winners were chosen at random from both in-person and virtual attendees, and the winners were announced live.
- Five Silver ticket winners have been awarded free access to the before nine online eLearning Resilience Foundation course on resilience at work.
- Two Gold ticket winners have won free access to the course and a 30-minute follow-up coaching session with Dr. Aarti.
Congratulations to all our winners!
About the speakers and their sessions:
Krysta shared her resilience journey, particularly how she had entered the industry and how her past experiences have all helped her become the ‘resilient mother’. She used anecdotes and experiences from motherhood and applied them to the principles of resilience which provided a humorous and innovative view to how resilience can be applied to our everyday life. She also touched upon how women at the C-Suite level should be advocating for each other and not tearing each other down.
Claire shared her experiences on working in the Middle East and spoke about the challenges with being sometimes the only female in the room and how she adapted to this new environment. She discussed imposter syndrome, which is experienced by many women, and some of her tips to managing this such as leaning on others for support, accepting that imposter syndrome is part of us all and being who she was, unapologetically. She shared how gender equality has changed over the years, particularly within the Middle East, due to legislation being introduced. It is encouraging to see that fast and rapid change is possible.
Stephanie shared her career journey and spoke about what it has been like within the Resilience profession over the years, including challenges she has faced. She particularly focused on her tips for promoting Business Continuity within our organisations and making it simple by cutting out the jargon and starting by looking at the culture of the organisation and their risk appetite. She also spoke about the glass cliff whereby women are often brought into leadership positions when risk of failure is high.
Olly (they/them), spoke about their experience in being transgender and non-binary and experiencing similar hardships that women are up against. Whilst there is data out there that shows the gender pay gap between women and men and the glass ceiling, those who are trans and/or non-binary, are not represented within these statistics and Olly described this as ‘existing in a society that is not designed for us in mind’. Olly gave us some key takeaways to challenge both ourselves and our organisations in how we approach diversity, equity and inclusion.
Abigail discussed her career journey and her experiences of motherhood. Key themes that shone through in Abigail’s talk were the importance of having role models and a network to be able to turn to for support. She spoke about being the only black woman in her office and at times would be the only black woman at industry events. This was one of the reasons, Abigail created the Black Business Continuity Network, to build a community and a safe space for business continuity professionals.
What did our in person and virtual audience think of the event?
We received some fantastic feedback from our physical and virtual attendees and have included some extracts below:
The event was a resounding success, with fantastic engagement from both our in-person and virtual audiences. Throughout the event, we had great discussions on the topic of resilience, and attendees shared inspiring stories while networking over drinks and nibbles.
We'd like to give special thanks to our speakers, BCI Chair Heather Merchant and BCI Future Leader Jasmiina Rousu, as well as our global BCI WiR Committee members.
Massive thanks to the BCI team: Kirstie Wise, Sergio Gallego-Schmid, Marianna Pallini, Olusola Jinadu, and Oyinkansola Bamtefa.
We're also grateful to our sponsor Google and our wonderful hosts Dylan Shaw, Linsey Torode, and Charlene Clee. As well as our prize sponsor Dr Aarti Anhal and ‘before nine’.
To those who attended, thank you for your support and valuable feedback. For those who missed out, we encourage you to join our BCI Women in Resilience Group on LinkedIn or on the BCI website, and to stay tuned for our upcoming events and webinars.
Finally, if you're interested in becoming a speaker, sponsor, or host for our future BCI WiR events, please contact the events team at [email protected], or reach out to Bethany Warren directly. We can't wait to hear from you!