By Simone Roche MBE, Founder, Northern Power Women
In the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic, Northern Power Women has been quietly going about our business and adapting to the new way of life. And we’ve also had some things to celebrate. Over the last couple of months, we’ve marked our fifth anniversary; launched our skill sharing and networking Power Platform; created a new Northern Power Futures podcast; and our regular weekly podcast has been shortlisted for the British Podcast Awards.
In the last year, we’ve built amazing, collaborative partnerships with the likes of EY, Co-operative Bank, United Utilities, Natwest and Liverpool FC. We’ve developed a mentoring programme, worked with the BBC 50:50 Project and been to Number 10 to discuss gender equality with the PM’s advisors.
But maybe we’ve been just a bit too quiet about what we’ve achieved and what a powerful resource we can be to communities, businesses, individuals and young people. We’re not just about women and we’re not just about the North. We’re a passionate and purposeful community, a force for change, proactively offering opportunities to support, empower, guide and share skills.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been holding ‘power circles’, six in six days, speaking to over 100 women at the top of their game, cross sector, and across the north (which has been a feat in itself) – talking about the current challenges and how we can all move forward.
The focus is very much on support. What can we all do to help each other and help those in our community, local region, or sector, whose lives and jobs have been affected?
We’re also thinking about what the new norm might look like as we start to come out of all of this. The phrase ‘build back better’ is being used a lot – but the resounding message we’re getting from our members is, actually, let’s not go back, let’s just build better. There are a lot of positives coming out of all of this, in terms of innovative solutions, attitudes to the home/work/travel balance and, hopefully, a more thoughtful, compassionate mindset. This pandemic is an unprecedented event, with no existing blueprint. This is the chance to make history and set a completely new pathway. It’s a huge opportunity for change on a personal level, business level and community level. As one of our members said: “We are entering an unrecognisable period and the danger is that we try and apply old solutions to new problems, when what we need is some new solutions and a strong network of support.”.
And that ethos is very much at the heart of our new Power Platform – a hub for expanding your network, supporting others, making connections and developing new skills and careers. It’s a living, breathing project, we want people to come and join the platform, use it and tell us what they want from it. As we look ahead to the new world, we want to grow our network and enable social mobility, diversity, economic and individual growth across the globe. And the quicker we grow it, the more good we can deliver.