Event Recap: London Launch

WIN has officially landed in London!

Almost 2 years to the day of our founding, WIN London officially launched last week with a packed-out event at The Future Laboratory – and we could not be more excited about it. During our launch, we welcomed 70 female innovators and practitioners in London to introduce them to WIN, to share "Female Futures" foresight, and to catalyze our new members to share the topics and concerns that can drive exciting, relevant, and purposeful events in London.

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To kick off the event, Victoria Buchanan, Strategic Researcher at The Future Laboratory, took us through the highlights of their recently published Female Futures Report. The aim of the research was to to examine how women, and gender equality itself, are rewriting the rules of brands, products, services, and how we practice innovation globally. “We believe the female economy is a lucrative market and growth strategy for all businesses. We want to help to equip leaders with better strategic tools to turn this change into positive action…Our mission is to add to the conversation in an actionable way and help the businesses we work with build more innovative - and profitable - brands.”

And when Victoria says profitable, she means it:

“One solution to revive spluttering economies requires neither drilling nor innovation, and could add up to £8 trillion to the global economy within a decade: women.” Min Lan Tan, head of Asia-Pacific Chief Investment Office, UBS Wealth Management

You read that correctly — the female economy could be as valuable as the current GDP of Japan.

When we talk about building a female future, -  we aren’t talking about ‘pink trends’ or a feminization of society. We are talking about economic impact. Equality is not just a female issue, it’s a social and economic issue. Our session in London revolved around four key areas where women can lead to re-shape the innovation world: Purpose, Diversity, Power and Flexibility.

With minds stimulated, our new WIN London members split into groups to explore the barriers and opportunities presented as we work to build a female-driven future. In breakout tables, groups explored what is possible: A new contract between women and the innovation industry

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1. Purpose

How can we dedicate time to nurturing ourselves, others and businesses for life-long success?

Exploring Purpose: As our lives are become increasingly digitized, we fight against our ‘always on culture’ and focus on self-care, the power of female traits such as emotional intelligence, empathy, vulnerability and intuition will come to the fore and become the drivers of business. According to the World Economic Forum “by 2020, emotional intelligence will be the sixth most sought-after skill, ahead of decision-making and negotiation.”.

Following this shift, Samantha Moyo launched an online business course which teaches an emotion-led approach to work, which was born out of  frustration at the lack of empathy and emotional aptitude in the business world. Moyo argues our emotions and the way we feel on a day-to-day basis should be honoured in the workplace - and she thinks about how this might apply to our working - like collaboration, conflict or commercialisation.

Therefore, it’s about evolving an emotional paradigm for the working world – we must recognise that our natural state as women means that we already possess the skills to thrive in the 21st century- huzzah.

Through a team brainstorm, the Purpose group flagged key ideas around identifying workplace issues that limit self-care, developing an emotionally intelligent workplace, engaging both men and women on the topic of Purpose, a focus on educating the men and women of the future on how to use purpose-driven principles in their everyday lives, championing age and wisdom when developing a purpose-oriented innovation working life.

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2. Diversity

How can we unlearn traditions of the old system to open the door for equality, visibility and fearlessness?

Exploring Diversity: The benefits of diversity in the innovation world are fairly obvious; PWC finds that a more diverse workforce makes a company more adept at problem-solving, acquiring exceptional talent and achieving long-term economic growth.

Furthermore, Victoria shared “We’re in the business of creating stuff that resonates with society, and getting people to move and take action. It is imperative that we, as the ones who create the stuff that moves people, have a strong knowledge of culture and what moves people to act, given their diverse backgrounds.”

In Philadelphia, The Women-Led Cities Initiative is aiming to rethink this gap, pushing for planners to fully optimize spaces for the female experience and bring about greater equality for all people in cities. Ultimately, we need to start seeing diversity as a solution rather than a problem to be solved.

In the Diversity member brainstorm, this team had a productive conversation around identifying and overcoming stereotypes in our life and in our work, generating conversations that build awareness of the needs and backgrounds of others, taking the lead on diversity criteria and catalysts for hiring practices, and even explored potential event topics around conflict management, WIN opportunities for knowledge exchange and the best practices for becoming an entrepreneur.

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3. Power

How can we challenge traditional politics and concrete codes of business through outreach and influence?

Exploring Power: Women are re-coding the meaning of power and rethinking metrics of success. Rather than aiming to achieve the same as men, we must open up the conversation to encourage acceptance of “a different set of priorities and a different way of achieving and measuring what that looks like beyond status and financial incentives.”

Victoria also importantly highlights that “women aren’t necessarily pursuing power; 40.6% of people under 30 believe a sense of purpose is the most important criterion when considering a job.”

When thinking about existing power structures and how we might change them, Liv Little founder of Gal-dem mentions “The ladder isn’t extended. What we should be doing is pushing it down even further so that it is easier for others to catch on and climb, so more of us can climb the ladder at the same time.”

Based on the stat that 15% of Executive Creative Directors at the most progressive agencies are women Where Are The Boss Ladies? was created. A new database that compiles female executives from across the advertising industry in one place to as a resource to help people to find their next female boss or business partner.

On the Power brainstorming team, there was a great discussion around moving from a more old-school and traditional version of ‘power’ towards a more female-friendly and relevant set of tools to feel ‘empowered’. The team suggested training to help WIN members own their version of power, building opportunities within the WIN network for agency-client open forums, mentoring opportunities and a resource of facts, case studies and statistics to help all WIN members champion females and diversity at work and on innovation projects.

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4. Flexibility

How can we design our working and personal lives around balance, flexibility and emerging opportunities?

Digital tools are levelling the playing field, creating a borderless world with an open dialogue. Technology is driving a de-centralisation of skills and knowledge which in turn means a de-centralisation of opportunity. Victoria quotes Sheryl Sandberg as an example of this; “Because of the smartphone I feel like I have more flexibility in my life. That’s why I can do the pre-school drop of but at the same time there is a pressure to respond to emails all of the time or work late into the evening.”

Tech is also offering new fluid solutions for connecting and networking - take tools like Bumblebizz which lets women connect with mentors and potential business partners - what other digital tools might we need as we start to design our own careers? Despite being an industry predicated on innovation and creativity, we still lack imaginative approaches to flexible working - just 7% of jobs in the marketing industry are currently advertised as flexible positions. Moreover, working remotely and maintaining a flexible lifestyle is becoming increasingly more valued, particularly by millennials: a survey of 9,000 women in more than 70 countries revealed that a majority (71%) of female millennials want to work abroad during their career.

The Behere platform was inspired by services like remote year which allows you to work for an employer while you travel around the world - but it’s done through the lens of recognizing women lives. They have tools to help you craft the letter to convince your boss to let you go….and services that created to enable women to gain new experiences and feel safe while traveling, without giving up their lives.

Our final team brainstorm focused on the opportunities and barriers within the world of Flexibility, and want to see success stories from women who have managed flexibility well in the innovation workplace. This group discussed the need for negotiation training for flexibility options - especially with male bosses - and wants to champion women of all ages in the quest to build an equitable, positive innovation industry.

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In our world of futures and innovation, we often discuss the next big market or the next big growth opportunity - and here at WIN, we believe that next big opportunity is women. At our launch last week, we saw that there is a critical need for a community like WIN London to support women innovators as they play their part in building a female-driven, inclusive future.

We’ve seen a tremendous response to the WIN community in NYC and we’re so excited to have launched a sister community across the pond - the start of a truly global community and movement. We can achieve the future we envision if we come together and support each other to truly meet our individual, and collective potentials. Stay tuned for future events and see below for how you can get involved.

To read the Female Futures Report in full click here.


Next steps:

  • We’ll be taking these ideas away to come up with a kick-ass programme of events, so watch this space
  • Sign up for the mailing list
  • Get in touch at team@womenininnovation.co if you’re interested in becoming a WIN London partner or ambassador

  • Join our private Facebook group and follow us on Instagram @womenininnovation

  • Pledge to go for a coffee with someone you met at the event!


Do you have an idea for a future WIN event? Want to share your perspective on female futures? Email us at team@womenininnovation.co or share via our private Facebook group. See you very soon!


Written by Anna Goodman, Meredith Smith, Justine Lai and Katie Burwick
 

Photos by Kathryn Bishop