We have made no secret of our wish for the Bristol Women in Business Charter to be an effective long-term lever to support the move to greater gender equality within businesses in the City and the surrounding area. Given the current circumstances, we decided to launch very quietly as a Community Interest Company (CIC) on 1st April. The CIC has been formed to take over the running of the Bristol Women in Business Charter from the Women in Business Task Group (part of the Bristol Women’s Commission), and we are the team that is running the CIC! We wanted to take this moment to answer some questions on our new transition to understand our aims and what it means for our signatories through a Q&A with the CIC Directors, Jane and Sandra.
What is a Community Interest Company?
It’s a company whose sole purpose is to do something that’s of benefit to the community, usually a clearly defined community. When applying to become a Community Interest Company, one is required to make a community interest statement and explain how the activities of the company will help that community.
The Bristol Women in Business Charter led a discussion about Women, Work and Covid-19 in a recent webinar, aimed at business leaders in Bristol
Sandra Gordon - A businesswoman, a magistrate, and a member of the Women in Business Task Group that launched the Bristol Women in Business Charter in 2019 (and now a Director of the CIC that runs it), Sandra is a member of the Mayoral Commission on Race Equality.
The webinar, chaired by Jane Ginnever, followed the series run by the One City Economy Board, which is actively working to support the recovery of the city’s economy is a fair way. The importance of a collaborative approach to the recovery was emphasised by the panel, as was the need to include a diverse range of employees in the discussion within businesses about how they recover and rebuild, and support the communities that they form an important part of to do that too.
A recording of the webinar can be accessed here. For further information and comments, please contact Sandra Gordon, Director of the Bristol Women in Business CIC at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jane Ginnever, also a Director of the CIC on 07922 068725.
On the 7th March 2020, we joined Bristol's City Hall in a celebration with thousands of women from across our city with Bristol Women's Voice. The day was packed with performances, activities, discussions and workshops brought by many inspiring organisations (including us). For those who couldn't make it, we thought we'd give you an inside look on what we got up to. Perhaps we will see you next year?
So, what was there to see?
The day features more than 50 free events. From workshops on happiness, health, work and climate change, to self-defence classes, panel discussions, art installations and so much more! Sounds too good not to miss. But what did we do I hear you ask?
Bristol Women in Business Panel discussion: How to navigate the opportunities
Our latest event for the Charter was a massive hit! - So kindly hosted by one of our leading signatories, The National Composites Centre (@NCCUKinfo). We thought we would let you have a little read of what went on, and perhaps you could find yourself at our next event.
So who are the National Composites Centre?
The NCC (National Composites Centre) is the UK’s world-leading composite research and development facility; where innovators come when they need to make things lighter, stronger, smarter and more sustainable. With access to ‘beyond’ state-of-the-art technology and the best composites engineering capabilities in the world, the NCC collaborates with customers to solve the most complex engineering challenges of our time. Part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the NCC works across all manufacturing sectors and has forged strong links with aerospace, energy, defence, space, construction, infrastructure, auto, rail, marine and biomedical. It works with organisations across the board from micro enterprises through SME to disrupters, supply chain and OEMs, providing businesses with a de-risked environment to design, develop, test and scale their ideas and get them to market fast.
What Charter goals are you pushing for the NCC?
The NCC is committed to the Charter in full but is particularly focusing on the promotion and availability of flexible and part time working, increasing representation of women in Engineering and to closing the gender pay gap. We are proud to have four female directors (which represents 30% of our Leadership Team) and to be working with the wider Catapult network to promote the uptake of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects and ultimately build a diverse Engineering workforce for the future.
Why is it important to the NCC to be a Charter signatory?
Gender is just one element of diversity but one that is widely known to be a key challenge for the engineering profession. We are committed to fulfilling our role within UK industry to improving the conditions and opportunities available for women working in engineering, now and in the future.
Tell us about the progress you’ve made on gender equality since you signed the Charter?
Since signing the Charter we have significantly increased our STEM activity with some focused events on encouraging female students to pursue STEM subjects. We have also been promoting our female engineers and the great work are doing at the NCC through our social media channels and have appointed two female engineers into technical management positions.
What are your aims for gender equality at NCC in the future?
We are passionate about and are committed to increasing the proportion of women working in engineering, improving the conditions and opportunities for these women and to closing the gender pay gap.
How important is it to collaborate and learn from others about good practice at the Charter events?
It's hugely important - the opportunity to share best practice with, and learn from, other companies in the area is really beneficial to the work we are all doing to create gender equal workplaces.
Is the Charter a way forward for businesses looking to attract talent in the region?
Absolutely. The knowledge that those who have signed up to the Charter are committed to improving gender equality and inclusivity in businesses in the region can only help bring talent to the area.
How can you embed the Charter alongside initiatives they are already running?
At the most recent Charter event we discussed the opportunity to build a mentoring network across the Charter group – this would be hugely beneficial in giving mentees access to a bigger ‘pool’ of mentors from different backgrounds. For a relatively small organisation like the NCC this would be particularly helpful.
The Alta Mentoring Scheme and Women Researchers' Mentoring Scheme
Susan Durbin provided a presentation on the Alta Mentoring Scheme, An on-line mentoring scheme designed BY women FOR women in aviation & aerospace; supported by the Royal Aeronautical Society and Women in Aviation Charter. With 250 mentors and mentees signed up since its 2019 launch, It is open to ALL women across the industry, irrespective of the size of the company, supporting various areas such as:
And so much more! Further information about the Altra Mentoring Scheme can be found at: www.aerosociety.com/alta
Laura Fogg-Rogers presented the Women Researchers’ Mentoring Scheme (WRMS).
Offering a specified number of mentoring opportunities which aim to provide mentees with encouragement, support and advice from experienced colleagues.
Female mentees are matched through hand matching to a female of male mentor, with 300 members of staff having participated in the scheme from 2013 to February 2019 - it sounds like it’s proven to be beneficial! Here are some stats:
Apply here: https://www1.uwe.ac.uk/research/researchstaffsupport/womenresearchersmentoring.aspx
Workshop session: Let's hear from YOU
Next up was a workshop session, where we discussed what our signatories currently offer in terms of mentoring, what challenges they see in introducing a formal mentoring scheme and what these businesses need in terms of support. The discussions raised were highly engaging, and revealed to us what barriers there were in introducing such a scheme, the workshops are one of the most important aspects of our Charter events - as part of being a signatory with us, we want to hear from YOU and your ideas on how these processes can be made easier to adjust into everyday business life.
Sounds good right? Perhaps next time you could join us, these events provide a great opportunity to link with new people along with some fulfilling conversation topics!
So what are you waiting for? It all starts here: complete the on-line application form.
Hit us up on our socials to keep up with what we’re up to next, International Women’s Day is looming… and you bet we will be celebrating!! (hint, hint)