By Alice Reeves, Creative Business Consultant & Founder of The Joyful Academy
Wow – what an incredible event SheSays Brighton was!
The first-ever full-day, in-person SheSays event was proof of the immense power of bringing together like-minded women from a multitude of different backgrounds, industries and ages to share their stories and experiences.
Covering a spectrum of topics from the power shifts that could happen if diverse voices drive the way we’re using the world’s most ground-breaking technologies to the joy of making flower crowns, it was a day rich in insight, inspiration, empowerment and self-love.
The energy in the room was phenomenal from start to finish and every speaker who took to the stage spoke beautifully, powerfully and purposefully.
Here’s what’s stayed with me from the day…
1. If you’re a leader, become a mentor
Nancy Maher from Kinkajou consulting opened the day by speaking about the “inspiration gap” in the tech industry – a lack of female role models coupled with the fact that women are far less likely to engage in self-promotion.
Mentorship is one of the most impactful ways we can tackle this. If you’re a woman in a position of power in an industry where women are underrepresented then speaking about your work and helping other women pursue the same path is the most powerful thing you can do.
2. Representation matters
As women, we tend to talk a lot about “imposter syndrome” – but Nancy Maher posed the question as to whether what we’re really experiencing is a feeling of not belonging.
After all, if you don’t see anyone like you in a particular role or having access to certain opportunities, why would you feel like that role is for you? There are still only nine women CEOs in the FTSE 100 and no women of colour – so perhaps imposter syndrome has less to do with a lack of faith in ourselves and more to do with a lack of representation.
3. Hold space with empathy
UX researcher and author Natasha Hampshire also spoke about the power of mentorship. With the help of Dr Seuss, Natasha beautifully highlighted how the most powerful way to help someone who’s stuck is to get into their world, see them, hear them and hold space for them to explore their ideas and find their own solutions.
4. Speak with purpose if you want to own the room
Demonstrating her own ethos to perfection, Reshma Sapre gave us all a lesson in owning the stage by focusing on our purpose above everything else.
In Reshma’s words: “It’s not power or passion, but purpose that drives presence.” She spoke about how purpose is far more important than power or passion if you want to be truly heard – and reminded us never to underestimate the power of intentional silence.
5. Immersive tech must be decolonised
It’s impossible to do any justice to writer, director and immersive artist Myra Appannah’s incredibly powerful talk in a couple of sentences – for many of us, this was the most thought-provoking and emotive session of the day.
One of the key messages was that immersive technologies are growing in power at an exponential rate – and they have the potential to disrupt cultural norms and power dynamics in a way we’ve never seen before. Therefore, the decolonisation of immersive technology and the amplification of diverse voices in this is vital.
6. Different experiences are equally valid
I had the privilege of facilitating a panel on neurodiversity in business with Mariam Crichton, Helen Davies and Anja Gradisher who all shared their experiences of diagnosis and how their neurodiversity has impacted their lives and careers.
It was powerful to hear stories from three completely different experiences, providing us all with a hugely important reminder that while some people have the privilege of seeing their neurodiversity as a superpower, others struggle to see the positives as a result of their experiences.
When we’re having these important conversations about diversity, equality and inclusivity, everyone’s experience is valid and should be honoured and respected.
7. Creativity is self-care
Cult Milk’s flower crown workshop in the afternoon was a wonderful opportunity to process the day’s insights, connect with new people and give our thinking brains a break.
As it said on the postcards we were handed during the session: “Making time to be creative without the pressure of perfectionism is one of the kindest things you can do for your well-being.”
Thank you for sharing this wonderful feedback and your insights Alice and your photos of the day. So glad you could join us for our first SheSays day event!