Women in Internal and Change Communications
Happy International Women’s Day!
I don’t feel smug about many things, but when it comes to women I certainly do. I’m extremely lucky to have the most amazingly fierce, loyal and inspiring women in my life and I’m thankful every day for them.
A surprise bonus was joining VMA GROUP and recruiting for Internal Communications and Change professionals which, as it happens, turns out to be a predominately female industry. 70% of respondents to VMA GROUP’s 2018 Inside Insight report, which focuses on the internal communications sector, were female (up from 64% the previous year), and we believe this is a fair reflection of the sector as a whole.
In the six months that I have been at VMA GROUP I have met some incredible women who have achieved some truly amazing things in their careers. I’m often left in complete admiration after meetings with clients and candidates. To celebrate International Women’s Day, I approached a few of the women who have inspired me and picked their brains about what it’s like for them working in internal communications. Here are some of their thoughts – I hope you enjoy reading them:
What advice would you give yourself if you were just starting out in your career?
“Worry less and don’t allow the fear of rejection or failure stop you from going after what you want.”
“Don't overthink opportunities. Better to put yourself forward, or your hand up, to take on more or something different without analysing it to death. Trying something new, or different is ALWAYS good for you. You will ALWAYS learn and grow - it really is a win--win.”
“If you want it - stick to it, explore it, fail in it and then get back to it. If you don’t want it - walk away and go on looking.”
“Say ‘yes’ to the opportunities that frighten you the most!”
“Don’t feel you must have a plan. Stay open to opportunities.
Be yourself and know intuitively that you can do it.”
What’s the biggest misconception about being a woman working in internal/change communications?
“Internal communication can often be referred to as the "fluffy stuff". It is a huge misconception that women are successful at this because they are good with the "fluffy stuff". Businesses cannot run or be successful in silence and it is the words and actions that inspire and motivate people. Whether male or female, bringing the business to life for the front-line means understanding what matters, their world and then cutting through the noise to reach them. Getting it right is the difference between the success or failure of a business - and that's just not fluffy!”
“There’s often an expectation that women are only interested in, or worse, only good at what is perceived to be the softer skills - talking and listening!”
“Of course, the biggest misconception is that these skills are less important than number crunching, when we all know that success depends on listening and talking i.e. good communication with your employees so you can ensure they are happy, as happy people deliver the best results.”
What’s the biggest benefit of being a woman in internal/change communications?
“For those organisations who embrace diversity it can bring a different way of thinking, alternatives to the traditional routes and a great balance to the workplace. There are no special benefits to being a woman, but it is comforting that women are able to be themselves and gain the respect of colleagues. Tradition is being challenged more than ever and if we can embrace, for example, flexible working, then business and individuals can both win. There is much more to be done, and as a female in the workplace now I am pleased to be leading the changes. Businesses who embrace diversity will ultimately benefit and the female communicators can be leading this agenda.”
“Generally, women have a tendency to have stronger emotional intelligence. In a survey done a couple of years ago it showed that women come out top for providing inspirational leadership, organisational awareness and coaching/mentoring skills. This comes back to the emotional awareness that comes more naturally to women. So, we need to use this to our advantage as it is powerful and really valuable in an internal communications environment. (Study: Korn Ferry Hay Group 2016)”
“That we generally have high EQ and can read the organisational mood music well.”
From my own experience and from talking with many inspirational women in the sector, Internal and Change Communications seems to be a very positive environment for women, and one where we can make a real difference. A recurring observation is that from the get-go of your career Be Brave! “Don’t get hung up on what you think people want to hear, instead believe in yourself, your ideas, and your creativity.” How true is that?! And something that I think we can often forget no matter what stage of our career we’re at.
One thing I really noticed from my conversations is that there is real positivity about the value women can bring to the IC sector, but overall, to succeed you also need a supportive organisation and a diverse team!
"When I look at the highest performing teams I have worked in and led, while there has very often been a higher proportion of females in roles, the best results have been achieved when there has been a mix of colleagues to share their experiences and ideas.”
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to answer my questions and to all the candidates and clients that I have met over the last six months. Let’s all take a moment today to celebrate the women in your lives!
Leila McCausland is a Principal Consultant with VMA GROUP’s Interim Internal and Change Communications team. If you are interested in finding out about how we can help you with your interim hiring requirements or develop your interim career in internal communications, please contact Leila on: +44 (0)203 327 7603 or email LMcCausland@vmagroup.com