A few weeks ago I was happy to accept an invite to attend the meet up for the networking group Twenty Ten Club as a guest by its founder, the lovely Octavia Goredema. It was for the April session of the meetings which have been running for a few months now. To be honest, I had been meaning to go for a while but you know the drill; work, child, partner, basically life got in the way.
Sat on the Jubilee line home after the meeting, I felt excited having attended. I started thinking about each of the women’s businesses and how great it was to hear their individual stories. My mind also started thinking about what other people might think of a race specific women’s networking group and if there was a benefit for it? I’m not normally one for separating things by colour, but allow me if you will, I think in this instance it’s understandable. Ok, so I can hear some of you asking why it’s it. Put your feet up and I”ll tell you why… I can also hear some of you saying “surely networking is beneficial when it’s inclusive?” Yes, I do agree with this hence why I make sure to network with a range of different types of groups whether they are male and female, by sector (media, corporate or whatever comes in between). However I think the true benefit to having black women in business networking group is that it instantly gives us a voice. You know the saying “it’s better to make a noise with others than on your own” – well, not those exact words but you catch my drift. It’s unfortunate and quite sad that there are not enough portrays of professional black (actually ethnic) women in the UK; (I’m purposely excluding those in the US). So if we unite and come together, supporting, promoting and providing advice for each other, surely this will help in creating a positive noise within the mainstream (and highlight that we too are part of the mainstream), that we exist?
As a parent to a young daughter, it’s important for me that my generation provide role models which she and her cousins of the same age can relate to, identify with and believe in; enabling them to believe they too can achieve greatness, just like many of the members from the Twenty Ten Club, women who are on their way to supreme success and who unfortunately are not recognised by mainstream media to leverage editorial and broadcast coverage from being successful within business. Additionally, this opportunity enables black professional business women to meet, network, inspire and support each other (which obviously can be gained within any type of networking event regardless of race, so I’ll stop here on this point).
Without driving you to roll your eyes as you read on (as my boyfriend did), the meet up was such a beautiful and encouraging thing to be part of (this is the point he rolled his eyes, lol). It’s for these additional reasons I welcome networking groups like the Twenty Ten Club and the few others which exist like Women of Colour in Media. That’s not to say when I go to networking groups which are not targeted at ‘women of colour’ I don’t find them inspiring, far from it. A lasting memory of when I was greatly motivated and inspired by was chaired by an English woman during 2009 when I was a finalist in a Women in Business initiative called “Brand Piano”, now named “Brand Amplifier”, which was founded by Jeanette Pritchard, Managing Director of JP Creative. The four week programme gave ten other business women and me the opportunity to attend business workshops with her and a handpicked group of business women who had already made it. Jeanette Pritchard (or JP as she’s widely known), is one SERIOUS inspiring lady and truly is a woman in business I look up to and aspire to be like.
To bring this post to an end I suppose the overwhelming proud feeling felt during my attendance at the Twenty Ten Club soiree could be likened to the feeling of those who were proud to be English on April 29th for the Royal Wedding. It too was a proud moment to be a black business woman the other week, standing in a room full of other successful, inspiring black women and this is something which I hope is celebrated by many; black and white.