How HR can use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to champion their own development

This week we are, of course, celebrating International Women’s Day here at P&P!

Our week kicked off with our webinar for HR: ‘Challenging your Comfort Zone’.  Presented by the Head of L&D for Norfolk and Suffolk Police, Rachel Ward, the session was perfectly timed to address the impact of the past year on our own confidence levels and ability to challenge our own comfort zones positively.

There are 3 reasons why we believe now is the time for HR practitioners to prioritise confidence-boosting, motivational sessions such as these – for themselves and also for wider employees:

1. We need you HR!

The HR community in particular has worked tirelessly over the last year (and continues to do so), to support their employees through the crisis; to offer them coaching, counselling, support and advice.  Having worked in L&D for 20 years, we know how hard it is to prioritise your own self-development and how easy it becomes to put this to the bottom of the list.  However, if the HR community is going to remain strong and resilient for the longer-term, time out for self-development and reflection is essential!  As one participant from our webinar put it:

Very thought provoking and good to take the time to focus on my own development rather than others for a change!

Whilst in the past, HR may have focussed more on Employee Assistance Providers to support them with issues such as mental health and wellbeing, many HR teams have embedded new company-policies to ensure the health and wellbeing is part of the culture.  This may well involve much more individual and tailored work with senior managers, ensuring they are able to support their teams directly.   HR is needed more than ever – but this extra pressure means that HR need to get really good at prioritising their own wellbeing and development:

The HR Director reported on the changing role of HR during the pandemic earlier this year:


2. International Women’s Day is a great campaign for pushing us all to focus on the most important things:  being bold, creating positive change and challenging the norm (and the comfort zone). 

After experiencing 2020, it feels even harder to be bold and step out our comfort zone – especially because we’ve been forced to do things we never thought we would – home-schooling, separation and isolation, illness, financial pressures and continued uncertainty.  This back-drop has caused many of us to cling to stability and possibly withdraw from potential opportunities and advancement at work.  However, we know that women in particular are most at threat of losing out with their careers, especially those with caring responsibilities.  The latest research on this issue is from Linked In, whose findings were published this week for International Women’s Day.  Nearly half of the women in the study felt their careers had been ‘set back or put on hold’ due to Covid-19. 

3. Decrease in engagement….

Whilst the first lockdown was found to have largely boosted business and individual productivity in some sectors, many organisations are now finding their employees are much more de-motivated, and entering a ‘slump’ period.  McKinsey reports:

‘The pandemic’s siege on mental health is real, with companies reporting that employees’ initial productivity sprints have given way to fatigue.’

Putting on short, motivational development sessions, which enable employees to reflect and feel inspired, are really needed at a time when we feel overwhelmed with the more traditional fact-sharing, tip-giving webinars we are invited to.  Cross-industry events are also a great way of enabling employees to see things from a different perspective, which is why we chose Rachel Ward as the speaker, representing the diverse world of policing.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our 2 webinar offerings with Rachel, please email

60-minute Introduction to Challenging your Comfort Zone – large group webinar

90-minute Deeper Dive to Challenging your Comfort Zone – small group discussion-based webinar

This week’s blog is written by co-founder of Parent & Professional, Helen Letchfield.

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