As we celebrate International Women's Day 2021, our #sticktogether Women's Network take a look back at what we've achieved as a Group during lockdown. From virtual event attendance, book and documentary discussions as well as Learning Lunches, we also take the opportunity to celebrate some of the experiences of the team in a less than normal year!
For International Women's Day 2020, our #sticktogether Women's Network held an interactive session in the office (the last real-life event at the time) so we could understand what the wider business wanted to get out of the Group over the coming year. With the help of a diverse range of voices we decided on our mission:
To support women at Stickyeyes & Zazzle to achieve their full potential by driving conversations, nurturing skills, facilitating networks and championing success.
In practice, this would mean:
- Facilitating regular open forums to drive honest discussions.
- Providing support and guidance for the development path of women either through informal conversations or more formal mentorship.
- Sharing inspirational stories and advice from within the Group, wider IPG network or external organisations.
- Ensuring diverse perspectives are welcomed and heard so we can understand and nurture change where needed.
- Signposting external events that can provide networking and training for all.
- Championing success in any forms to inspire and educate.
The start of a virtual support network
The start of many lockdowns thwarted our original plans but, after adjusting to a different way of doing things the #sticktogether Women Team kicked off our first open forum in July. Here we shared our lockdown reading lists which included those that promoted diversity and inclusion such as 'Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race' – Reni Eddo Lodge and 'Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men' - Caroline Criado Perez, those that promoted inspirational women’s stories such as 'Becoming' – Michelle Obama, and those that helped to keep us laughing like 'Idiot' – Laura Clery.
We'll be sharing our reading and watch list in the coming weeks. Some brilliant resources shared by the team which are well-worth working through but, also worthwhile exploring:
- Lean In - a raft of resources for women, allies and companies. A few of the Stickyeyes team are mentors as part of the Lean In Leeds circle - well worth getting involved either as a mentor or a mentee - https://leanin.org/.
- Tilted - the Lean In podcast - which brings conversations with people pushing for change - https://leanin.org/tilted-a-lean-in-podcast.
- Empowering Women in Tech - a group that works to elevate, educate and empower women in digital, tech and science careers - http://www.empowerwithtech.com/.
- Inspiring Girls - raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting them with female role models - https://inspiring-girls.com/.
- Fawcett Society - a UK based charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights. One of the Stickyeyes team is on the organising committee for the Leeds chapter - https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/.
- Digital Women - which aims to empower 1 million women through the sharing of digital skills - https://digitalwomen.live/.
In October, the group held our promise to signpost external events we’d attended around Ada Lovelace Day, followed by conversations about Netflix documentaries we’d been watching on the theme of women’s equality. These films left us with the lasting message that “every time a woman is honest about her experiences, she is fuelling another woman to keep going” – an ethos that stuck with us and inspired ideas for our next event.
Later that month, we held a lunch we don't think many of us will forget to raise awareness of Breast Cancer. Not only did we learn how to check ourselves, but we also heard about the moving experience of one of the team who had been diagnosed earlier that year. Rallying behind the cause, we asked our team to 'Donate your lunch to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month' and Stickyeyes was able to raise over £3,000 for Leeds Teaching Hospital and the Breast Clinic who had looked after our friend so well.
Championing our team
But more than ever, this year we've seen the amazing resilience, hard-work and passion that the Stickyeyes Team continues to bring to their day job. Our latest forum in February this year opened the floor to women and men throughout the Stickyeyes network to talk about their experiences of COVID-19 and lockdown and their coping strategies. From living alone and returning from maternity, to starting a new job or going through Ramadan without your family around you, the team's honesty in sharing their struggles but also their coping strategies and silver linings taught us the importance of taking the time to stop and listen to the stories of others.
So, on International Women’s Day 2021 we take another opportunity to champion the achievements of our team as we plan the next year of supporting women at Stickyeyes and Zazzle to achieve their full potential:
Lucy Pickard, Biddable Media Executive
“Being yourself and letting your personality shine through is important”.
I'm an advocate for feeling temporarily uncomfortable for the sake of personal improvement, so when it came to throwing myself into the deep end to speak at the Sticktogether Conference, I didn't hesitate.
Since then, I've made sure to take more opportunities to present to the wider team at Stickyeyes. In doing so, I’ve learnt that being yourself and letting your personality shine through is important – I’ve found that people seem to engage more and it makes the whole experience more enjoyable. I've also learnt to embrace being a naturally expressive person – it comes in handy when presenting on a screen.
Lauren Heaven, Content Editor
"When you’re just working away in your box room at home, it’s difficult to know if you’re doing a good job”.
2020 was a strange old year for many reasons, both in work and at home. My biggest work achievement was winning Employee of the Year – when you’re just working away in your box room at home, it’s difficult to know if you’re doing a good job, so this was the biggest boost for my confidence.
Away from work, as someone who’s constantly active, I think I’ve actually enjoyed being forced to slow down a little bit. It has been nice to have more time for reading, long walks with my rescue dog Rosie and exercising, and then to strike a balance, cooking and eating a lot too.
Farah Hussain, Biddable Media Executive
“Moving teams has given me the opportunity to speak to more people across the business and get involved in different groups, such as Stick Together Women”.
It’s been a real learning curve taking on a brand new role while working from home. But it has given me a new focus and work ethic, especially training under these circumstances. Having a supportive team has certainly helped ease the move and I’m starting to get to grips with the constant change in digital, as well as building stronger client relationships.
My biggest achievement aside from winning Employee of the Year has to be strengthening my togetherness across group. Moving teams has given me the opportunity to speak to more people across the business and get involved in different groups, such as Stick Together Women.
Laura Leyland, Project Director
“I quickly had to learn to be kind to myself, not feel too much pressure to do everything perfectly the first time and ask for help both at work and at home”.
Maternity leave can be a lonely time for any new mum, let alone experiencing that during lockdown. So when it was time to return to work, I was excited to get back to some sort of normality.
However, I’d been so sheltered over those months I’d had off, I felt like I’d forgotten everything. I underestimated how much change there’d be returning to a new team and a new way of working.
I quickly had to learn to be kind to myself, not feel too much pressure to do everything perfectly the first time and ask for help both at work and at home. Six months in and I’ve learnt so much, made some great new connections and worked on some exciting new clients, and to do all that while still being able see Parker makes any challenge worth it.