By Chantelle Denny, Socitm Finance Director, who shares her experiences from a one-of-a-kind training programme
At first I was sceptical about attending the Empowering Women in a Digital World (EWDW) course. I don’t for one moment think I know it all, but I have several years’ experience of management and leadership at a senior level, so was this really designed for people like me?
The answer is very clearly yes!
Despite being confident in my ability and my commitment to my job, my team and my position in the company, I suffer with insecurities and generally give myself a hard time. It turns out that is very common – particularly in women – but by understanding this self-doubt I could start to address it.
I am now much happier and more relaxed.
I’m currently in the coaching stage of the course where I am learning to treat myself the way I treat others. This means giving myself permission to make mistakes and be OK with that, just as I would be if it were a team member. I am learning to receive praise because I enjoy giving it, and that these moments should be celebrated without embarrassment and without brush-offs. I am mastering the art of assessing situations by the person’s intent, rather than their actions because, after all, people don’t set out to get something wrong!
I’ve changed and I’m aware of it.
The first two group sessions I found myself being very quiet and much more of an observer than a participant. I’ve never been the first one to speak up in a group, even when I look back to my school days. However, I recently moved house onto a new housing estate and, as I direct result of the self-confidence I have gained from the course, I have created an online community group which involved posting leaflets introducing myself; last night I was elected as the neighbourhood watch coordinator. I’ve also launched a local running club and I’m organising community events with businesses in the neighbourhood. My group has already attracted nearly 100 members in a week and is growing daily as new people move into their homes.
In the past, I’ve often quietly thought that what I have to say isn’t important, fearing saying something stupid and looking foolish. Then I met my EWDW group. The most amazing group of women who listened to me and valued what I said, as much as I valued their input. They have changed my opinion about speaking up and having my say heard – and that has benefitted me in how I view myself, how I believe others view me. And I have used that to encourage others to do the same: speaking out is more likely to result in something good than something bad.
One lady in my community group said her daughter had felt isolated since moving to our area nine months ago. That little girl now has at least six new buddies on the street! Would that have happened without EWDW? Maybe. Eventually…