Championing change is on all of us

Championing change is on all of us
Bloomfest 2024 (Credit: Bronac McNeill)

Bloom is driving forward this mission by creating a policy framework for employers, giving inspiring voices a platform and upskilling the next generation to become change-makers.

As I come to the end of my year as president of Bloom, I applaud the progress made but, despite so much chatter about change, it isn’t happening quickly enough. Or perhaps businesses aren’t yet well-equipped to support change.

Bloom exists to shine a light on the challenges facing women in our industry. And one of the biggest themes of my presidency was to better understand these challenges for women through an intersectional lens.

The Juggle research, which we launched earlier this year, was the industry’s biggest consultation into work-life balance through an intersectional lens. Shockingly, two-thirds of women of colour feel their ethnicity means they face unique challenges or barriers in achieving work-life balance.

Moreover, 62% of queer women agree that a lack of work-life balance has negatively impacted their personal relationships, compared with 47% of heterosexual women.

As a whole, only half of women (53%) surveyed said they were satisfied with the flexible working arrangements their employer offers currently.

We sought to shift this dynamic to one of action. We consulted with Timewise to create guidance for employers and individuals on how to get better balance. We launched a checklist with suggestions for businesses to adopt, including introducing key policies that better support under-represented groups, from flexible working policies to mental-health initiatives to a diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.

The importance of being earnest

However, policies can only do so much. Change needs to be made — and it shouldn’t be left to marginalised groups to carry the burden. It is so important to get buy-in from everyone across the company — for example, senior men as well as women should demonstrate a good work-life balance by also being seen to work flexible hours.

If we want to challenge cultural norms, it’s highly valuable to get the right voices to lead the conversation. This was a core element at our annual event, Bloomfest, in February. Our theme was “The Lift”, which sought to empower attendees through authentic representation and conversations.

It is one thing to champion change. But it is far more compelling to hear from the lived experiences of others. At Bloomfest, we heard from a diverse range of inspiring and brave panellists, who were not afraid to drive the conversation forward through speaking about their vulnerability in a safe space. The stories moved our audiences — and I felt both frustrated and empowered by many of these personal stories.

A key learning from this was the importance of being earnest when it comes to change. Allowing important voices to be heard and amplified is a step forward in better understanding the experiences of others and informing us on how to become better allies.

Empowering the next generation

For a number of years now, Bloom has run a mentoring programme for young female professionals in our industry and it supported a record-breaking 430 members this year. Placing a huge focus on nurturing upcoming talent is crucial in helping to create a healthy future for our industry and a motivated and successful workforce.

As well as providing the next generation with one-to-one mentoring where they set the terms and outcomes, we launched Bloom Blossom — a programme upskilling our mentees for success. This included lunch-and-learn sessions, panel discussions, interactive workshops centred on key topics that our mentees asked for and harnessing the diverse skills and experiences across our Bloom network.

I am so proud of the community that we have built with Bloom. It holds a unique space as a disruptor and a sisterhood. As women, we have been fighting for a level playing field in the workplace for a long time. The battle is not yet won.

For our industry, this is transformative. We are shining a light on the challenges faced and creating a framework so workplaces can shift the balance. We are giving important and inspiring voices a platform to share their lived experiences so that others can become better allies and earnestly drive change.

Finally, we are looking after the next generation. Motivating them, upskilling them and giving them the confidence to be future leaders and even become change-makers themselves.

I’m proud of our achievements at Bloom and excited to pass the baton to the new leadership team. I cannot wait to see how this incredible and inspiring network of women continues to drive forward our mission and the possibilities that lie beyond.

Elizabeth Anyaegbuna square

Elizabeth Anyaegbuna is co-founder of 16×9 Media and outgoing president of Bloom UK

Mediatel Jobs banner

Media Jobs