Tell us about what you do?
I run training courses and development programmes that focus on understanding and challenging oppression (e.g. racism, sexism, class etc.). I create a space for participants to explore the impact power inequalities have on their thinking and behavior and, therefore, on their relationships with others and with themselves. Some of the programmes are specifically for women e.g. Springboard.
What song motivates you?
I'm not anti-men (well, I'm married to one and one of my children is one!). However, I am conscious that we, women, are more than 50% of the population and that, despite equality legislation, we are still under-represented in management and leadership positions (and that's not because women don't have the necessary skills and abilities - we do, and much more). I am pro-women. So my song is 'Sisters are doing it for themselves' sung by the great Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. A real energizer that always makes me smile.
What is your favourite phrase or quote?
Some people admit that it is because of a lack of assertiveness that they find it difficult to say 'no', even at times when it would be in their best interests to do so (Work at it. The more you practice, the easier it becomes).
However, my favorite word is another short one that many people also struggle with. That word is 'Yes'! Too often people fail to either grab opportunities or to follow their dreams because of stereotypical, messages that present 'traditional' gendered roles as the 'normal and only' option. Those messages often limit people's expectations of themselves and, together with a fear of what other people will think if they don't conform, keep them in their 'place'.
Saying 'yes' can be scary, but it's what life is all about. There are times when you need to step outside of your comfort zone, into the 'wobbly' area and work to make that area comfortable and, thereby, extend your comfort zone. That's such a positive feeling! And when you've done that, it's time to set new goals and step outside again - and again, and again. Otherwise, over time, you'll become afraid to leave your comfort zone or even to go to its edge and your wishes will become regrets. I firmly believe we regret the things we don't do more than the things we do!
Why do you think training is important?
Training is important because it enables people to improve their skills and, therefore, their overall performance. Development in even more important. It enables people to work out and be clear about who they are, who and what is important to them, what they want and what they need to do to get what they want. They can than identify goals they can commit to and will willingly give their time and energy to, even when the going is tough, because they are determined to turn them into reality.
You have been delivering The Springboard Women's Development Programme since 1991, what, if any, changes have you seen along the way and how does it benefit the workplace?
Springboard is a brilliant programme because it provides a process for each woman to address her own, specific issues and although there have been common themes over the years, participants do so in relation to their particular circumstances, which are unique to them, alongside others who are doing the same. My experience is that, even though their issues may be very different, many participants form strong, supportive bonds as they each make the changes they want to make for themselves, building networks that often last way beyond the end of the programme.
Women who have attended programmes I have facilitated have reported behaving more assertively, applying for promotions, gaining promotions, returning to study, giving presentations, speaking out about issues important to them, being more active in their communities, taking up public appointments, sorting out difficult relationships, having better relationships at work and with their friends and families, taking 'me' time, not feeling guilty, being happy with and enjoying being themselves - and much more. Some have come back as guest speakers, some have trained as Springboard trainers, some, having been promoted and with responsibilities for training, have brought me in to run a Springboard programme for their colleagues! It's been a privilege to meet them all and to witness their courage as they make their own choices. And l learn new things from every group I work with so it's great for me, too.
In any organization, and in society as a whole, people are the greatest asset. We cannot afford to ignore the talents of half the population nor fail to develop women's potential. Confident, assertive women are role models not just for other women and girls but for men and boys too, paving the way and encouraging us all to be proactive in influencing our shared future - in our homes with our immediate families, as members of extended and/or blended families, as workers, as managers, as educators, as public servants and political leaders (think First Minister of Scotland, Prime Minister of the UK or President of the USA!).
So say 'yes' and step outside your comfort zone, for you and for the young women and men who come after you!
Like what you hear? You can get in touch with Gillian via www.neishtraining.com
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