The C-Suite Squad: Powering Connections

2 Minutes

As I climbed the proverbial ladder, and reached a C-Suite role, I looked around me to sudden...

As I climbed the proverbial ladder, and reached a C-Suite role, I looked around me to suddenly find I was surrounded by men. They were great men and allies that I thoroughly respected and enjoyed working with; however, I often struggled to get my voice heard (my learning as well as theirs) and there was no one on my leadership team who truly understood what it was like trying to juggle what is so often the “woman’s load”. 

This often made me feel isolated; I couldn’t always offload to my team - that just wasn’t fair - and I didn’t have a friendship group around me that were in similar positions. 

Then Hannah Soye joined us as Chief People Officer. Over a short space of time, not only did we form an outstanding working relationship (we would blast through work together and really complemented each other’s skill sets!) but we formed an unbreakable bond from the shared experience of working and raising young children.  We would be able to bring humour and support to each other when we’d had no sleep from sick children or juggling doctors’ appointments with board meetings.  

From this I realised that what I really craved was not just professional advice (I had stacks of that), but genuine connection and camaraderie with peers who truly understood the full authentic me and kept me going.  

This relationship brought me everything. Confidence, a sounding board, an ally, a supporter, a coach, a door opener and even a personal shopper! She gave me the ability to carry on every day, even at the hardest of times when I wanted to give up. (She tells me I did the same for her!) 

But unfortunately, many women do give up. There are so many obstacles for us along the way. Recent research still shows that while more women are joining boardrooms (40% female representation on boards in two-thirds of the UK's FTSE 350 companies), fewer are advancing to top executive roles (less than 20%).  

There is also a problem with retaining women in these roles. The head-hunter, Russell Reynolds, recently published that not only are fewer women being appointed to CEO globally, but their time in the role is much shorter than men. The research found that, in the past five years, almost 25% of women CEO’s left their role within 24 months of appointment. That compares with 10% of men. 

So, armed with the knowledge that Hannah and I would not have achieved what we have without each other, we began talking to other women openly and it revealed the same – many of us feel lonely and are often too guarded to speak up and say what’s going on for us and what we need, for the fear of seeming weak.  

And so we have co-founded the C-Suite Squad. We want the squad to ensure that every executive woman has these close allies in their corner to carry on and not feel alone. We want to be there to help each other when we have work challenges, facilitate useful connections, open doors for each other, untap the hidden job market and drink wine on occasion! There is so much we can do as one squad.  

We have our launch event on Wednesday 10th July. The response has been incredible with so many wonderful women signing up across all industries, and we are excited to see where we can take this. 

Hannah and I will do everything we can to drive and create a safe, confidential and fun environment and ensure everyone is swapping details! Our goal is to create a space where women can come together, vulnerably, and support one another in a way that’s rarely found in typical business settings.  

We want it to be more than just a networking group, we want it to be a lifeline.  

Co-founding the C-Suite Squad has been one of the most fulfilling projects of my career. Not only do I get to work on something that I am truly passionate about but it’s also with a best friend and colleague with a shared purpose. That is when the magic happens!   

If you are seeking a place where you can grow, both personally and professionally, and make real connections with women at your level, we invite you to join the C-Suite Squad!   

Link to register: 

By Hannah Some and Liz McGuinness, Co-Founders of C-Suite Squad

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