Sam Allen leads networking event on breaking down barriers for women leaders

Sam Allen

“Sometimes the biggest barrier is ourselves,” says Sam Allen, chair of the Health and Care Women Leaders Network, as she opened the networking event in Manchester with a 'powerful and personal' address. 

Addressing the room full of existing and aspiring women leaders, Sam encouraged them to talk to and support each other, asking “How many times have you worried about asking someone for advice, and how often does someone actually say no?“

Chief executive of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, Cara Charles-Barks, shared how her early experience as a nurse provided a strong foundation for her values as CEO - determined, caring but personally not infallible either. 

The recent nerve agent attack in Salisbury served to reiterate to her the importance of providing outstanding care for everyone across even the most challenging and unprecedented circumstances, and how crucial leadership is during those times. 

“Being a chief exec can be a lonely place,” she said, highlighting the fact that there is no peer group within the organisation and therefore having mentors in place is essential for talking through difficult issues.

“Balance is important, you can’t take care of other people or an organisation if you’re not taking care of yourself.”
Frances Scott and Dr Sonia Adesara from the 50:50 Parliament campaign were next on stage, to highlight the campaign’s aim of achieving a 50:50 gender balance in the UK parliament and the #AskHertoStand campaign within it, which encourages people to ask an inspirational woman to stand for parliament.

“Men can act for women, but they may be more likely to do so when there are more women in the room,” they said. 

A discussion about the network’s 50:50 by 2020 report referenced Credit Suisse, which said that, for the last six years, companies with at least one woman director had better share price performance than those companies without women.

The event ended with a speed mentoring session, where delegates had the opportunity to speak to a new colleague and take away a new contact. 

Thank you to everyone who attended and all who supported. You can catch up on tweets from the event at #nhswomen or take a look at our Twitter moment. If you would like to become a member of the network please sign up via our online form.


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