Across the country, women are coming together to share experiences, knowledge and learn new skills through a global initiative called ‘Lean In Circles.’
Lean In Circles are an opportunity for women to come together in a safe environment and talk freely about some of the issues that affect women within the workplace. Based on the concept and resources of Sheryl Sandberg, the Lean In Circle sessions tackle a new topic each month, equipping participants with a new toolset to help them in their personal and professional lives.
Sheryl Sandberg’s resources share a huge amount of research
behind the actuality of the female experience in the workforce, exploring common experiences and providing development tools.
Alicia, a Lean In Circle Facilitator in Melbourne describes the value of the initiative:
“We have senior leaders and new graduates in our group. It is the broadness and diversity of thought, age, and experience – there is not one person in the room that has the same experience.”
So how do we turn these conversations into meaningful change?
At BAE Systems Australia, Lean In Circles take place in two parts. Firstly, the group explores new concepts and skills through an education session exploring topics like ‘how to make stress your friend’ and ‘having difficult conversations’. Then participants take their learning away for a month to see what it looks like in the business. They try things out and share ideas with colleagues, male and female, returning the following month to explore how that has worked and what they have observed.
“The biggest piece is around sharing experiences, trying things out, coming back and sharing experiences again and learning from each other.”
While the topics are often relevant to all, Alicia describes the essence of the session and the safety of the female group as empowering, allowing women to realise they are not alone in their experiences. Participants are also encouraged to lead a session, allowing them to practise presentation skills in front of a supportive group.
Our Lean In Circles have opened for men to join every now and again, to explore topics such as how to mentor a female at work, or what to look out for in the workplace and how to call out bias in an appropriate way.
“I’ve certainly learnt huge amounts and changed perceptions and thought processes.”
While the Defence Industry is undeniably a male dominated industry, Lean In Circles are just one of the ways we are working to create greater opportunities for women to excel in our workplace.