It was a real pleasure to be at the Kent Network of Women (KNOW) conference this week. KNOW work throughout the year to ensure there is support within Kent Police in the areas of:
- Progression of women in the service
- Circle of parents – a group for parents within Kent Police
- Fertility and IVF treatment
There were some fabulous speakers highlighting the work and progress in all of these areas. The care and commitment that they put in shone through as they spoke about their goals and achievements.
Ann Millington, CEO of Kent Fire and Rescue Services talked about building confidence, drawing upon her own experience of building her confidence in her life and her career. She emphasised the importance of growth and development coming from a place of ‘I am enough’ rather than from a belief that ‘I am not enough, so therefore I need to change’; building on positive acceptance of who we are, rather than from feelings of inadequacy. She talked about the impact it can have when managers really ‘see’ a person for who they uniquely are, and the particular qualities that each person brings to their role. She said that if guidance and feedback are given with compassion in this way, then people really begin to grow and shine.
Rachel Evans, Head of Learning & Development at Norfolk and Suffolk Police also talked about confidence. She eloquently described how a lack of confidence can get in the way of us doing what we really want to do. She challenged every one of us to set goals for 2019 that are outside of our comfort zones but that will make us feel alive and satisfied. She got us all to coach each other around our negative beliefs that hold us back, such as ‘I’m too old/too young/too….’ and go beyond these.
We heard a very honest, moving and courageous speech from a man about his, and his wife’s, journey through infertility treatment. It was such a poignant reminder of the experiences that people may be facing in their home lives, that can have an impact on work life. He talked about the importance of his manager’s support through this intensely challenging time, and what it had meant to them both.
I admired the courage these speakers showed in sharing their own very human experiences and challenges. It meant that the atmosphere in the hall was one of honesty, support and real learning.
At P&P we see what a difference having an approachable point of contact, like KNOW, can make to people within an organization. As they said at the conference, it can make it easier to ‘get through the door’ after a period of absence for parental leave, other caring responsibilities or sickness. We also see what a difference it can make to managers who want to support a member of their team, but perhaps feel unsure of how to do it. So often managers want to help but are concerned about ‘getting it wrong’. We know from the work we do with Kent and Essex Police that if managers feel they have the information and support that they need it can make a real difference to how supportive they are with their team members.
I am excited to hear that the Metropolitan Police are also launching a Network of Women (NOW) to unite the various initiatives that are taking place across the force, and their Launch Event is being held on 17th December at New Scotland Yard.