Boost Your Career Post Covid19: Peer Consulting Circles

Sign up for our Peer Consulting Circles now! This survey will close on 24th July 2020. 

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives are being put on the back burner during the Covid19 pandemic. Meanwhile, many ambitious, loyal and committed women are putting their minds, hearts and souls in helping their organizations survive. Whilst at the same time managing an increased workload at home. History shows that this selfless commitment will not be rewarded. In this crisis, women again will come out on the losing end. It’s time to shift gears and consciously turn Covid19 into an enabler of female career growth. 

Sonya Richardson Spark for GrowthIn a recent PWN Global webinar, Boost Your Career After Covid19, only 17% of participants described their leadership to currently be supporting diversity initiatives. The mantra ‘never waste a good crisis’ clearly does not hold for accelerating gender balanced leadership. A shame, as there is ample opportunity.

Jacinda Arden, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, shows that by encouraging organizations to introduce a 4-day work week and other flexible working options as a means to drive economic recovery, she is also improving diversity and inclusion. 

As we know, she is an exception to the rule. In fact, in times of crisis women are often forgotten to be included in the recovery process. Our unconscious bias kicks in and old prejudices seem more than justified. The outcomes can be dramatic when women aren’t part: the example of the rebuilding project after the 2001 earthquake destroyed nearly 400.000 homes in India springs to mind. New homes were built, but they forgot to include kitchens. It goes without saying that women weren’t included or even consulted. There are many more examples, but bottom line is to be very alert when we hear leaders and colleagues currently say: “We need to now focus on survival of the business, so of course D&I budgets need to be cut”

If the cards suddenly seem stacked against more gender balanced workplaces, we collectively need to act. It is possible for Covid19 to act as enabler of career growth and by following the 3-step iterative process of:

  • Pausing and Reflecting
  • Reviewing and Renewing Purpose, and
  • Agreeing on New Ways of Working.

As a result, followership will grow. More detail on each of these steps can be found in this article, and, if you're a PWN member, in the webinar recording. Be aware that this does not guarantee a promotion though, as that would be fooling ourselves into believing the myth of meritocracy. 

Making sure you are visible and seen for a promotion, will require you to do more. And not only at work, but also at home. During the lockdown mothers working from home were 50% more likely to be interrupted by their children than fathers, a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed. The added workload at home goes beyond the care of the children and many statistics paint the picture that women are picking more than their fair share. 

Women’s careers will suffer as a result. The academia are already showing a stark decline in papers submitted by female academia. As an example, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper Series saw a 9 pp drop in March and a 38 pp drop in April. And yes, even though men were also less active initially, relative to the mean this reflects a 12% drop in March and a 20% drop in April. We need to acknowledge and counter the potential negative longer-term impact.

In a world where we suddenly lack schoolbook solutions and long lists of best practices, our success in these times depends on how fast we can move forward to new insights. Action-based peer consulting is a proven method to stay ahead of the curve and become better equipped for a better future. PWN Global, in collaboration with consulting firm Spark for Growth is offering sessions from September – December, to make sure that your commitment, loyalty and ambition not only supports business recovery, but also boosts your career.

If you have never taken part in peer-based action learning formats, then here’s how they work:

  • The group is limited to 5 or 6 people with an interest in a similar theme, and at similar levels of seniority to provide sufficiently insightful solutions.   
  • The set up, planning and preparation is quite simple. You need to have a 2 hour slot available for a virtual session. There is no preparation upfront except for having a challenge or question that you would value peer-based advice on.
  • The process is structured in a way whereby everyone’s personal challenge is addressed. You will gain insights on your own issue, whilst also getting insights from potential solutions for other people’s challenges.
  • The outcome is a clear list of follow up actions that allow you to excel in your success, helping you move through issues that you previously experienced as obstacles.

If you are interested in taking part in one of these sessions, then indicate in this brief questionnaire the theme you are interested in and we will follow up.  This survey will close on 24th July 2020. 


Author: Sonya Richardson, partner with Spark for Growth
Date: July 2020

Note from Carina Furlong, Co-President, PWN Global 

Sonya Richardson is partner with Spark for Growth, but most will remember her as a former President of PWN Global. She spent nearly 10 years as a PWN volunteer supporting the mission to accelerate gender balanced leadership in business and society. As an alum and senior executive she is committed to giving back and staying connected with the network, and to support and empower PWN’s member community, whilst also actively engaging male senior leaders in her consulting work. 







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