Dannielle Beechey

One of the great things about working for Barclays is their commitment to supporting colleagues.

This week I was fortunate enough to attend a Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) panel event, where the topic was “Lean In” and the themes it outlines.

Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” has been a worldwide success, and provides a great insight into some of the things that may be preventing women from accessing the most senior positions in organisations such as Barclays. Sheryl urges women to keep the conversation going and to discuss the barriers they are facing.

On the WIN panel were three women with very different career paths but one thing in common – they had been in many meetings where they were the only woman around the table. Roughly half of Barclays employees are female, but at more senior levels, this fraction gets a lot smaller. The panel shared their experiences with a group of colleagues across Barclays, and answered questions from London, Geneva and Johannesburg. 

There was some great discussion, but for me there were three standout pieces of advice.

It has been shown that men tend to make use of their networks, both formal and informal, to secure their next job. Women tend to focus only on their formal networks, which limits the amount of exposure they get. This may be because women feel less comfortable socialising with male colleagues. But if this is the case, one solution is to use breakfast or lunch meetings as an alternative to drinks after work.

It’s very easy to get caught up in all the things you haven’t had time to do. You may have a to-do list as long as your arm but no matter how hard you work, you’ll never complete everything to the best of your ability. Success lies in being able to determine what matters to you the most, and what has to take a back seat. It’s beneficial to keep a log so you can appreciate what you’ve accomplished, and the growth you’ve achieved.

Finally, women need to advocate for each other more often. Once you’ve done all the hard work to get to a position where you are in charge of teams, do what you can to ensure that other women on the same journey are supported on their way up. If someone reaches out for help, make time to answer their questions and provide coaching where you can.

Barclays has made a name for itself in the industry as being a top employer for women. Many initiatives are already underway to ensure we reach Antony Jenkins’ target of having women filling 26% of Barclays’ senior leadership roles by 2018. But we can all play our part in making sure there are equal opportunities for men and women wherever we can.