Managing Motherhood


We realise motherhood is a huge subject, and we wanted to start the conversation on how best to manage motherhood and our careers – from telling your boss you’re pregnant, to discussing maternity leave, returning to work and asking for flexibility… the list goes on. How do we best prepare for and manage this crucially important process? Elizabeth Cowper joined us to talk as a mother of three, as a Director of HR, and as a founder of a fantastic network called WoMo for working mothers. Here are our key takeaways:

1.       Preparation is key when entering a discussion about motherhood with your employer. Be empowered and know what you want to gain from the discussion, rather than just asking what the company will give you. Be armed with information before you walk in – you will get more out of the conversation.

2.       Be authentic, be ‘your you’. If you can focus on yourself before having your baby it will help you have a smoother transition back to work. Remember what’s important to you, whether it’s a Saturday morning yoga class or a Wednesday night glass of wine – you’re still the same person once you have a baby, so try and take time for yourself to do those things. It’ll keep you sane.

3.       The longer you’re out of work, the more disconnected you can feel when you return to work. Try to keep connected with your team and job throughout maternity leave to make joining less intimidating. Use your ‘KIT’ (keep in touch) days – you’re legally allowed 10 over your maternity leave.

4.       You will have guilt, and that’s ok. Being a working mother means you may have to miss out on things. At some point you may feel like you’re not doing enough (at work or at home) but remember you can’t do everything exactly as you were before! Spread yourself more broadly but accept it will be with less depth.

5.       Relinquish control and share the load. If you can get support, take it! It’s easy to take on too much and burn out. Remember that airlines tell you to put your oxygen mask on before others for a reason. Say yes to help, it will benefit you, your child and your career in the long term.

6.       Find other parents in the workplace. Start a discussion around the issues of parenthood and maintaining a career. Even if it’s an informal one, it will help you get things off your chest and in the long term could help with company policy.

7.       Men need to be involved in the conversation.  To really solve long-term issues of equality we need to include men in discussions around parenthood. Shared parental leave is a right which is still rarely taken up – this should change but society needs more time to get there and we need to help that.

8.       Job share is a great option for people who want to maintain the same role and responsibilities but having a day of overlap is critical. Ask HR, you never know if someone else may be looking for a similar arrangement. If you’re not interested in a job share you should still have a discussion about your options.

9.       Think about your role in terms of output, not just hours. Women in particular tend to graft, and it takes some adjustment to think about what you achieve rather than the hours you put in. Write everything down so that you are armed for a conversation if needed, for example, if you’re doing five days work in four days. If your responsibility and output hasn’t changed, then your salary shouldn’t either.

10.   Be vulnerable. There’s a widespread perception that we must go to work and switch off from parenthood. It is ok to be open and honest with your colleagues about the difficult responsibilities of parenthood. It is only through showing vulnerability that we will see a shift in attitudes.

11.   Things are getting better! Attitudes are shifting and companies are finally catching up! Working Mums are being recognised for having a more efficient output.

Fertility: Your Questions Answered


Fertility is a topic that rarely seems to leave the news, and yet it is often surrounded by speculation and scare-mongering. Fertility is also a theme that is particularly relevant to women of our age, especially given some of the Daily Mail scare stories! We were joined by fertility expert Zita West join us, founder of a London fertility clinic who has worked with women across all ages on this personal but hugely important topic. Zita helped us separate fact from fiction, as well as answering all of our questions. Here are our key takeaways:

1. Plan – at what age did you mother have the menopause? If she had it earlier in life then that could be an indication that you need to start trying sooner (although a blood test is the only way to know). Factor in how many children you want to have into your timing and planning. On average it takes 8 – 12 months to get pregnant.

2. Prepare – once you’ve decided you want to start trying, it can be useful to get some medical tests to rule out any problems further down the line e.g. rubella, smear test, thyroid gland, vitamin D and folate levels, zika or a sexual health screening.

3. Aside from the medical situation, you need to examine you’re emotional health too. Stress levels and emotional blocks can be a huge challenge. Create a holistic 360 plan to ensure you’re taking care of your emotional health too.

4. Nutrition is key to having healthy eggs and sperm. Ensure you are getting enough fats and protein in your diet (particularly if you’re vegan). Supplements are important because most of us do not get everything we need through diet.

5. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and helps many of us to manage stress but try to avoid intensive exercise (more than 14 hrs/week) if you’re trying to get pregnant. Part of the issue is from over-heating, which is something to avoid especially in those first 14 days after ovulation

6. Enjoyment – don’t put the rest of your life on hold! Whilst maintaining a healthy diet is key, you need to learn to build in treats too – indulging in the odd glass of wine could prove more beneficial to your emotional wellbeing than abstaining.

7. Intuition – get in tune with your body rather than relying solely on apps. After taking hormonal contraceptives for years, it can take a while for us to return to our natural cycles and to learn about our bodies. Cervical secretions are an important indication of whats going on internally. They come in the lead up to ovulation and tend to stop after ovulation stops, so monitor them.

8. Fertility issues relate 50% to men and 50% to women. Men tend to be a lot more laid back and optimistic so try to get your partner engaged and educated on fertility. Drinking, smoking and taking drugs will all have a huge impact on the quality of his sperm as can overheating saunas or intense exercise (particularly cycling).

9. Before embarking on IVF its a good idea to get a fertility assessment. Get a blood test and ultrasound to know your ovarian reserve to better understand your chances before investing in IVF. If your reserves are really low, you may be better off looking into alternatives such as egg donation. But remember egg reserves are only part of the equation.

10. Egg freezing buys you time and give you choice, but it doesn’t guarantee a baby. Some eggs will die in the thawing and freezing process and some may not be healthy enough to freeze so you need up to 20 – 30 eggs to give you a better chance of conceiving.

11. You don’t have much control over when you’ll get pregnant but you do have control over other influencing factors; what nutrients you take, how much you drink, how often you have sex etc. Most women don’t have an inability to conceive but they have a tendency to be impatient and put too much pressure on themselves.

Financial New Year Resolutions 2019

Our annual get-your-finances-into-order event with our two brilliant and knowledgeable speakers Claer Barratt, the FT’s award-winning personal finance editor, and Emilie Bellet, founder of Vestpod, an exciting start-up designed to help women get smart about money.
They covered everything we needed advice on – mortgages, savings, work pensions, Brexit fears… how to financially empower ourselves for 2019.
We were also delighted to be hosted by Wealthsimple, an online investment manager
Disclaimer: the following is for your information only and is not formal financial advice; we can not accept any liability for any loss or damage incurred from you acting or not acting as a result of this information.
Why financial planning is so important
  • Women have 35% less saved for retirement – the wealth gap is even starker than the wage gap. But when we do save and invest we are better at it.
  • It’s not about money, it’s about the life you want to have. The global economic slowdown means that we have three options – work for longer, expect a less comfortable retirement or start saving!
What to prioritise
  1. Pay off credit card or any expensive debt first
  2. Then ensure you have short term savings –  an emergency fund of 3-6 months savings in case you need it.  Nationwide, TSB and Tesco all have current accounts at 5%.
  3. Then invest in your future:
    • Pensions are a great way of saving because you pay no tax on the money going in and you can pay in up to £40K a year. Plus your company will often match the money you pay in so this is essentially ‘free money’.  Find out what your pension terms are and pay in the maximum possible.  Also look to combine pensions (if you have more than one) in to one place.
    • ISAs are another tax-free way of saving.  You can pay up to £20K a year into an ISA. There are a range of ISA products: cash ISAs (not great in the current climate); stocks and shares ISAs (there are now plenty of DIY platforms to be found online), a lifetime ISA (you can pay up to £4K in a year and you’ll earn 25% back, but be careful of the conditions), or a junior ISA (one for the parents among you to consider). If your partner earns less than you, you can pay into their ISA to make use of their full allowance.
    • Overpay your mortgage to reduce debt and so get your monthly payments down.  Be careful of fees on this and of other conditions on mortgages; do your research carefully.
Rules for smart investing
  1. Start early – remember the 8th wonder of the world, compound interest!  Get into the habit of dripping even just a small amount into your savings each week.
  2. Keep costs low – high fees make a big difference over time.
  3. Don’t pick stocks – single stocks are bumpy, versus the market as a whole
  4. Diversify – don’t put all your eggs in one basket, buy into a balanced fund and consider foreign markets
  5. Drown out the noise (and avoid downloading apps to check all the time!) – markets will go up and down, but its the long term that matters
And finally, some general points to consider

  • Pay yourself first – setup direct debits at the start of the month
  • Check out for helpful advice on all of the above
  • Sign up to the Vestpod newsletter and the FT Money Show podcast to keep yourself informed
  • Wealthsimple is offering BroadMinded members no fees on the first £10,000 they invest with Wealthsimple, for up to one year, if you are interested in kick-starting your savings in 2019 (sign up here). If you’re not ready to get started just yet you can also book a call with one of their advisers who can answer any questions you may have on investing.
  • Maybe consider moving abroad for a bit to avoid all the Brexit mess!



‘Rien resiste a la Tenacite’ with Francoise Holder

We hosted our inaugural BroadMinded Paris event this month. We enjoyed hearing the  various stories for our new Parisian members. For all the different sectors and industries in the room there were certain common themes that emerged. Yes, it’s an extraordinary time to be a woman in 2018, but nonetheless everyone is grappling with trying to balance their job, friendships, family and personal life, with not quite enough time to go around.


Our speaker for the evening was the fantastic Françoise Holder, who led the discussion and told her inspiring story with honesty and humour. From her refusal to stay at home like a Jewish Princess after getting married, to her own 1968 revolution she spent “pregnant, working in a bakery,” Françoise has always had the tenacity to go against expectations and follow her own path.


Here are some of the things we learned from her speech:

  1. Momentum is important: get on the train that presents itself. For Françoise and her husband, it was the arrival of shopping centres in France, which allowed Paul to widen its distribution

  2. It’s fine and necessary to fail; just make sure you don’t make the same mistake twice

  3. It’s very important to have happiness at work; there is nothing than worse than waking up in the morning dreading going to work

  4. Balance doesn’t exist: the life of a woman is a mille-feuille where love, family, friendships and work are intertwined

  5. In a family-run business, try to bring in people from outside

  6. Role-models are important but anti-role models also play a part; often your decisions are a reaction to what others around you have done

  7. There is no unique model for doing things: find your equilibrium. For example entrepreneurship is not a panacea, and isn’t for everyone

  8. If you have a good idea, money is not a problem because banks will lend to you. However they don’t want to lend to an idea that has no future

  9. Find your target/mission and focus on it: for Force Femmes it was helping to get women over 45 years old back into work

  10. And finally: rien ne résiste à la ténacité

In conversation with Alexandra Shulman


We were thrilled to host an evening with Alexandra Shulman at Allbright this week. We’ve heard from some great women in our time, but can’t think of a more frank and enlightening interview. It is so refreshing to hear such straight up and sensible advice from someone who broke so many boundaries, all delivered with a good dollop of British humour and self-deprecation.

Here are the key takeaways. Too much to cover so we have focused on Alexandra’s main insights and tips we can all carry forward with us. Get on with it, don’t overthink it and enjoy life – we think that’s a pretty good mantra for all of us!

Alexandra Shulman….

… on Ambition

  • Try not to spend time dwelling on things like imposter syndrome. It doesn’t help. 25 years ago it was paid much less attention to; it wasn’t even a term
  • If you’re given a big job, don’t doubt yourself. If you’ve been given the job, you must be qualified for the job.
  • If you’re the boss, you can’t always see your colleagues as friends. You have to remove yourself from that office comradery.
  • Nobody’s immune from the concerns about ambition vs. happiness at home! There will be peaks and troughs, but if Alexandra’s example is something to go by, it worked out pretty well…

… on 24 hour work culture

  • Find workplaces, or create workplaces if you can, that don’t encourage a 24 hour work culture. Often there is less value in an immediate late night response to an email than one that’s been thought about and prepared properly.
  • Alexandra thinks 4 day weeks are totally viable. During her Vogue tenure she negotiated half-day Fridays in the summer months.

…. On Women

  • Women today are much more go-getting and professional than 25 years ago.  Generally they have more confidence, are better prepared and know what they want. Although interviewing women who ask ‘what can you do for me?’ is still taking it a little far!
  • Women have / had a tendency to get more frazzled than men, probably because they were juggling so much more. Try not to micro-analyse everything
  • Delegate. It doesn’t come a naturally to women; sometimes you delegate and worry ‘am I delegating just because I’m lazy?’. Realise that probably at times, that is the case. But that’s ok!

…. on Career & Motherhood

  • Compartmentalise if you can.
  • Different models work for different people at different stages. 25 years ago 16 weeks maternity leave was considered a long time!
  • There’s no good reason that any woman should return to maternity leave and find herself demoted. But of course, it’s a very hard situation to manage as a boss. A lot can change over a year.
  • Don’t berate yourself if going back to work feels like heaven.
  • Make the most of having two separate lives – immerse yourself in work and then immerse yourself in your home life once you leave the office.

…. on Planning for the future

  • The best things that happened in Alexandra’s career were by accident. The Vogue opportunity came up because 3 other people turned it down. Of course she was very skilled and capable, but being in the right place at the right time is a big factor. Don’t panic if you think your career path isn’t on a straight upwards trajectory.
  • Pay attention to your juniors. One day they won’t be so junior anymore!

…And a few recommendations

  • A beautiful book on what clothes means to women is Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti:
  • Check out John Lewis’ new instore collection. Some great new brands and finds (we already have… it’s great!)

Negotiation Masterclass with Sue Williams


25th May, The Family

The demand for this event was incredible; we hear you that negotiation is an area we all need to improve on. We’re in no doubt it was the strength of Sue William’s experience that was the real pull for the evening: Sue Williams has been a Hostage Negotiator since 1991, working with both Scotland Yard and the FBI. In 2003, she became the first female to lead Scotland Yard’s Hostage Negotiation Unit. In the same year, she was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for her contribution to the fields of kidnap negotiation and the saving of lives.

Sue skilfully translated her experience into practical advice for negotiating in our own lives, and here are the 15 key takeaways:

  1. Change what you can control and influence what you can’t.
  2. Don’t go into negotiation like it’s a battle. There is no right or wrong. Arrive as blank slate, put your preconceptions to one side and leave your ego at the door.
  3. The more clearly you understand the other party, the more options you will have. Ask open questions and learn as much as you can.
  4. Understand your opposition’s motivation. Your reality is not their reality. Put yourself in their shoes and understand their reality.
  5. Above all, listen. More specifically, actively listen. Look up Active Listening Skills online to learn more.
  6. The person listening is in control, as they are absorbing knowledge, analysing and planning what to say/do next.
  7. Empathise, don’t sympathise. Never say the words ‘I understand’ unless you have been through it yourself.
  8. Develop a rapport. It is important to be liked, and people tend to do more for people if they like them.
  9. Watch out for your body language. It gives you away, and you need to present yourself as physically open.
  10. Always try to drop in someone’s first name. People have been called it since birth and are programmed to respond to it.
  11. You cannot get to yes without how. Always treat negotiation as a process not a one-off event.
  12. Be prepared. Predict the dialogue, have responses prepared and be ready for the questions you know they will ask.
  13. Anticipate compromise. Have your second level offer ready to bring out if needed.
  14. A team approach can be good. If so, one person can be developing the relationship whilst the other is active listening.
  15. Sometime using an intermediary is useful. Do you know someone who make the relationship more easily and can support?

As Sue said, negotiation is about going into someone’s mind without leaving an entrance wound. It’s advice that will definitely stay with us, along with her recommendation to get another (non British) passport if you can.

Advice for negotiation and tips on how not to get kidnapped – we aim for diversity of thought and topics at BroadMinded, and we think we got just that on with this event!

Making the Step from Doer to Leader with Heather Jackson


How to make the step from ‘doer’ to leader – positioning yourself for success

1. Build your confidence. This has been shown to have a profound impact on achievement so we need to work on it. Build personal and professional support around you, make sure you take care of your physical and mental health, and keep reminding yourself how great you are!

2. Recognize and value your capabilities. Know your strengths and skills and build on these; if there are gaps in your knowledge go out and teach yourself what you need (there’s a YouTube video for pretty much everything).
3. Invest time in your contacts. Take building your network seriously; this is an essential business tool:
– Get a sponsor (read the Sponsorship Effect report if you need proof of how important this is).
Identify who your sponsor will be, then spend three months becoming known to everyone around them, then approach them. This will become an invaluable relationship in your life.
– Networking is not about who you know, but who knows you. At every event you attend, decide the three people you want to connect with and make them your target for the evening.  It’s about quality of connection rather than quantity.
– Always listen to hear – not to respond.
– And follow up the next day.

4. You are the catalyst for change in your own life; take responsibility and ownership of your career and your career choices and never feel guilty for the choices you’ve made.

5. Finally, remember to lift as you climb.  Accept you are a role model and share responsibility for helping those around you.  If you don’t stand up for yourself and ask for that pay rise, for example, then the women two rungs below you won’t have a hope. You are responsible for changing corporate culture for yourself and for the women that follow you.