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.    

Going for the double!

It is finally here – the mentoring double event day we have been gearing up for - two huge events, one Baroness, one Dame and hundreds of mentors, mentees, Programme Partners and sponsors invited to the QEII Centre in Westminster!

We enjoy nothing better than gathering the great and good of the mentoring world and celebrating their successes. The positive energy in the room is always infectious!

We are thrilled to be announcing the winners and shortlisted candidates in our second ever 30% Club mentoring awards! Many of the entries were frankly awe-inspiring. We’ll be awarding to the Most Committed Mentee of the Year, Most Inspirational Mentor of the Year, Most Dedicated Programme Partner of the Year and Dynamic Mentoring Organisation of the Year.

You can see all our winners here, later! (link to our award page which will be updated Weds am)

We at Women Ahead have been supporting and developing this scheme for the 30% Club for four years. In a space where there continues to be a lot of talk about diversity, we are proud that this scheme is genuinely creating tangible change for mentors, mentees and organisations. At scale too, with more than 240 global organisations and 4,236 mentors and mentees supported to date! Our research base is tracking the career advancements, confidence step changes, retention, network expansion and vibrancy of this scheme!

For some, this marks the end of their mentoring journey. They have committed to nine months of mentoring, preparing thoroughly for every meeting, and seeing the effects play out in their professional lives. It has been an honour to hear the stories of boosted confidence, promotions, and talent retained that have come about as a result of life-changing mentoring conversations.

For others, this is the mid-way point of their mentoring experience. They are just over four months in and although they have discovered a lot, there is still much work to do. Sarah Winckless MBE – Olympian, Chef de Mission for Team England at the Commonwealth Games and Women Ahead’s masterful leadership and development expert will be sharing her personal story and mentoring advice.

Our departing mentors and mentees will hear from Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympian and Crossbench Peer and Britain’s most lauded wheelchair racer with 16 Paralympic medals. Dame Helena Morrissey – founder of the 30% Club - will be sharing her tips on closing mentoring relationships.

Good luck to all our mentors and mentees – keep in contact


Here's what we have been hearing...

 “I was identified as a woman with potential, which in itself was fantastic… to then be put forward for this was the icing on the cake”

My mentor comes from a completely different background and organisation which means he can bring a completely new perspective”

“A Mentor that doesn't know me will be able to see strengths and weaknesses that others may not.  All of this will help me develop and grow in my role.”

“I have benefitted from good mentors and hopefully I can provide the benefit of my experience to help others succeed.   I enjoy seeing people develop to their potential and have been providing mentoring to people with my own business for years.”













Persistence leads to parity

This International Women’s Day, this Year of the Woman 2018, let’s celebrate the real and positive evolution towards parity that is happening all around us – in business, in sport, in film, in life. The pace of change in the 100 years since some women were given the right to vote has been steady. ‘Nevertheless, she persisted.’