Careering ahead

One man’s reflections on working with an all-female team

It may sound like he stumbled onto the Ocean’s 8 set but Francis has spent the last 18-months working as the only man in an all-female team.  There was nothing accidental about his decision to join social impact organisation ‘Moving Ahead and Women Ahead’ though. 

“I think the reference to ‘women’ in the organisation’s name puts men off applying to work here,” says Francis.  “That’s a real shame because what we do is much bigger than women’s workplace equality – it’s about trying to increase all spheres of diversity in corporates.”  

The organisation does that predominately through a series of mentoring programmes, supporting those from marginalised groups to get ahead in their organisations.

Mentoring is all about encouraging the best out of people.  There’s something in it for mentor and mentee, it’s completely inclusive and helps both partners gain new perspectives. Step-by-step, participants build the confidence they need to capitalise on their strengths and progress.  That, in turn, helps the organisations they work for become more diverse and inclusive. 

Whilst the ‘Moving Ahead and Woman Ahead,’ team is small, its pragmatic and incremental approach is having a big impact.  Just last week it brought together 600 mentors and mentees to share their mentoring successes. 

“Meeting participants and hearing them tell their personal stories, really crystallises for me that what we do here is making a positive difference,” explains Francis. 

But whilst these programmes draw male mentors, mentees and inspirational speakers, attracting men to join the core ‘Moving Ahead and Women Ahead,’ team is proving more challenging.  That’s a genuine frustration, given this team knows better than most the benefits diversity affords. 

“If other men could just see past the organisation’s name, they’d discover this is such a rewarding place to work,” says Francis.  “We’re a small enterprise so you get involved in so much.  You work with some of the world’s most inspirational speakers and leaders.  Plus, the work we do is making a positive difference in reducing workplace inequality.  How many employers can offer all that?”

‘Moving Ahead and Women Ahead,’ is actively recruiting.  They’re looking for high energy men (and women) with a social entrepreneurial spirit, to join their growing team in Henley.  Francis is keen to encourage other men to look beyond the organisation’s name and discover the rewards that joining this mission-led business can offer. His 18 months with the business has seen him progress on his own incredible journey and, as a result, Francis will leave Moving Ahead and Women Ahead to start his dream role as a teacher in the Autumn.