The diversity journey started in our region when Helen Walbey asked for recommendations of local woman in business who could apply to be a member of a new taskforce. I encouraged one of my members, not yet an activist, to apply. A former solicitor, Sandra Garlick, who was now a business consultant, mentor, trainer and public speaker and had been an FSB supporter, in the wings, for many years – she seemed the perfect candidate. As you can imagine, I was absolutely delighted when Sandra was selected.
Sandra jumped into the task force with both feet and it wasn’t long before we were planning our first event to launch the Untapped Potential report. The event was held at a Gurdwara, a venue completely different for our region and one that showcased FSB as being diverse to the 60+ woman (and men) who attended.
Sandra was already one year into delivering the Woman Who… Awards, an idea that had stemmed from a broken ankle and a request from her son to help start an events business. Being on the task force she could see the synergy with FSB and wanted us on board to take the awards to the next level, so she approached us to become a strategic partner. Quickly a deal was done, regional and co-branding approved and it was all systems go. Over the next 10 months I have weaved the women in business agenda and Woman Who…Awards into our existing regional events programme and business plan. Sandra was booked as one of the key note speakers at our regional conference (AGM), we launched the awards at our B2B Expo breakfast with interviews with past winners, and of course made sure the conversations continued on social media and in regional voice.
I also supported Sandra to deliver a number of events when she launched the Woman Who…Network. Bi-monthly events that were aimed at keeping up the momentum and to compliment the FSB’s policy activity. The format was simple – informal networking followed by three ‘warts and all stories’ about the career journeys of local woman in business – those from small business and those working in large corporates. And all at a time of the day that was accessible to working woman – 9.30am till 11.30am. On average the events are attracting 70-100 people. The buzz and feedback has been brilliant, and I even get a chance at every event to talk about FSB!
When it comes to Awards Sandra has got them nailed! Every detail was considered, from the pre-event marketing and social media, coaching people to enter, the 2-tier judging process that included interviews with every finalist and of course the awards ceremony itself. Finally, after all her hard work and with 160 award entries, last Friday the Woman Who…Awards culminated in its now annual awards ceremony, attended by 260 business leaders. Yes, you heard right 260 people attend and there was even a waiting list!
Held at the best hotel in our region, the superbly run and professional ceremony spared no expense – it was slick! It had a great host with TV and radio presenter Trish Adudu. Of the three keynote speakers, two were FSB’s very own Helen Walbey and Louise Stewart. Both wowed the audience with their personal career stories, and of course took the opportunity to promote FSB. The event was FSB branded including our logo on the stage backdrop, on the trophies, certificates and programme, plus two key note speakers and FSB representatives as judges. It was clear that the event was run in partnership with FSB and goes a long way to helping us to become a more diverse organisation. Our MA who supported us at the event is now devising a strategy to engage winners and finalists to encourage them to become members, if they are not already.