Sheryl Sandberg’s bestselling business book ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’ gave rise to a global community of ‘Chapters’ dedicated to helping women achieve their ambitions.
Nuala Murphy, President / Founder & Regional Leader of Lean In Ireland (and CEO of Moment Health) explains why she was driven to establish an Irish Chapter, and how you can get involved.
Three years ago I started Lean In Belfast in a coffee shop with a small group of other women.
I had read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book and so much of it really resonated with me. At the time, I was fed up going to business events that were not diverse, and was increasingly aware of the negative impact a lack of diversity has in the workplace – on productivity, on innovation and on morale.
LeanIn.org is an international organisation set up to empower women to achieve their ambitions. Launched by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, its ethos is the belief that women are most effective when encouraged on the one hand, and challenged on the other.
From humble beginnings Lean In Belfast grew quickly to over 1,000 members and it was clear that an all-Ireland Chapter was needed. So, about 18 months ago a group of diverse women in leadership positions on both sides of the border met up in Dublin and started planning for Lean In Ireland.
Lean In Circles are small groups of women who meet regularly to learn and grow together, and they are changing lives.
We launched in March 2017 and have grown to 20 stand alone circles: a number which we aim to double this year. There are also a number of in-company circles with whom we hope to connect with this year to help extend the overall network and the opportunities for the women within it.
Lean In Circles are small groups of women who meet regularly to learn and grow together, and they are changing lives. Women are asking for more, stepping outside of their comfort zones, and growing in confidence. A Circle can be a monthly roundtable at home, or even a virtual meet-up with people from around the world. Corporate Circles rely more on the lunch and learn model. The important thing is that a Circle gets together regularly — and that everyone participates.
The Lean In Ireland Chapter is trying to connect and grow Lean In Circles on the island of Ireland to create more equal opportunities for ALL women.
How many members do you have in Ireland and what does membership involve?
Following the success of the Belfast Circle and Chapter growth, the vision was to bring the same model to the Dublin market and in 2017 we ran two sell out events hosted by both Facebook and MetLife.
Equality isn’t just a women’s issue – it is an issue for everyone and every business
Membership is free and focussed on the circles, which members establish or join and benefit from a growing library of free expert videos, discussion guides, and tips for women and their male allies. These materials are focused on helping women build new skills and provide everyone with research-based recommendations for advancing gender equality at home and at work.
Is membership aimed at women in senior leadership or do you see uptake from women at all levels in their career?
Equality isn’t just a women’s issue – it is an issue for everyone and every business. And it’s certainly an issue for people at every stage of their career. That’s why Lean In Ireland is so focused on open events, on sharing a wide range of stories and experiences and on welcoming anyone who is genuinely interested in the Lean In concepts of peer support, education and inspiration.
It’s never too early – or too late – to start!
What has the Chapter got planned for 2018? Are there any key events taking place?
We want to make 2018 all about ambition. Our ambition to grow Lean In Ireland, our ambition for our own individual Circles, and our support for women’s individual career ambitions.
We will shortly be announcing details of a careers clinic event and will also host some panel events whereby inspirational men and women will share their Lean In journeys and the benefits of peer support, personal boards and joining a Circle.
If someone would like to join the Chapter how can they get involved?
Come to one of our events and then join or start your own Circle!! We host a few events every year and they are typically focused on introducing people to Lean In, its culture and ethos. We introduce people to how Circles work and how to go about joining or setting one up. And also just introducing people to like-minded individuals in the room. I’m always taken by the spirit and inclusiveness of those rooms and the energy and enthusiasm that the gatherings generate.
Details are on our website and Facebook page and we welcome women (and men!) from all walks of life and at all stages of personal and professional development.