The #WECAN (Women Empowered through Coaching and Networking) Project is now well underway. The three-year project is led by a team of academic experts alongside professional development specialists from the Leadership Centre within Leeds Business School. Fran Parkinson, Operations Manager at Leeds Beckett, talks about what inspired her to get involved.
Earlier this year I was invited to join the #WECAN Project delivery team. Having worked with SME businesses at the University for almost 10 years now, I have seen the evidence of the stats. Most SMEs are led by men. Statistically only 15% are led by women. An even smaller percentage are run by business owners from black and ethnic minority groups.
The #WECAN Project is twofold. On the one hand it is exploring barriers for women in leadership and leadership equality trends. On the other it is providing professional CPD opportunities and access to networks for women in business.
As a female leader myself, I have experienced some of the challenges and barriers faced by women in leadership. I thought it would be very interesting to be part of a project which is seeking to explore those barriers in greater depth and providing tools and techniques to overcome them.
The project is currently providing three fully funded accredited training programmes through the Leeds Beckett Leadership Centre:
Having studied ILM Levels 3 and 5 Leadership and Management in the past I know the value of training in regards to my own professional development as a leader and manager.
You are not alone! Many women in leadership identify confidence as a recognised area for personal development. It is one of the areas I struggled with as a new and emerging leader when I first took on a managerial role. The project offers training and events to develop confidence and overcome these barriers.
I would really encourage businesses to get in touch. The project works with the business to identify the existing skills, current barriers and future opportunities for their workforce. They are then provided with a bespoke programme of support including access to research clusters, networking opportunities, training, events, workshops and masterclasses. The training enables women to progress within or into leadership roles.
To qualify a business must be a small or medium sized enterprise in the Leeds City Region. Businesses can register their interest via the website. They can find out more by following the project on Twitter, LinkedIn and EventBrite.
#WECAN is a three year £1.7 million project part funded by the European Social Fund. Led by Leeds Beckett University and working with a network of partners including Edge Hill University and Social Enterprise Yorkshire and Humber, the project aims to support the next generation of women leaders in the Leeds City Region by building their leadership skills, capabilities and opportunities.