Kingston Chamber of Commerce doing more to support women

The Kingston Chamber of Commerce is stepping up its efforts to support women in business, with a focus on inclusivity, networking, and empowerment.

Recognising the need for a platform that addresses the unique challenges faced by women, the Chamber has launched a series of initiatives aimed at fostering meaningful connections and collaborations within the Kingston community.

One such initiative is the quarterly Women in Business lunch, which has seen overwhelming demand and positive feedback from attendees.

Ilona Saliev, Event and Engagement Coordinator at the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, highlighted the importance of these events in providing women with a space to network with like-minded individuals.

“We noticed that women need to balance their personal and professional life, and this lunch ticks the box of the working hours. It’s not only a social event but it’s beneficial because it’s part of their work,” said Saliev.

The success of these events lies in their ability to address relevant concerns of women and provide attendees with valuable insights and practical advice.

Saliev said: “A key feature is the topic of each event which is very current and relates to women in particular, such as menopause or how to be a good leader as a woman or well-being and managing family life.”

Each event features experienced speakers and creates a comfortable and safe space for open discussions, allowing attendees to share their experiences and learn from one another.

“We try to tap into different sectors and topics, we tend to not repeat the same speakers,” said Saliev. “Our president Julie Leech, often helps as a facilitator and she is a very beneficial person to have in the team.”

The Chamber has emphasised the importance of ongoing engagement and feedback from attendees to ensure that it continues to meet its members’ needs.

Women are encouraged to come forward with reviews, fill out the Chambers online surveys and provide feedback, which “help build the relationship with the women who attend”.

In addition to the Women in Business lunch, the Kingston Chamber of Commerce also offer a platform for members to connect, share ideas, and collaborate on projects.

The Chamber has made a commitment to ensure their events are diverse and inclusive by promoting representation among speakers and panelists.

Events such as casual coffee meetups at the Wych Elm, are specifically designed for smaller businesses, freelancers, and startups.

By inviting specialists in various fields and supporting members who offer expertise, the Chamber ensures that its events are reflective of the community it serves.

The Kingston Chamber of Commerce IWD event
Credit: Kingston Chamber of Commerce

To support local events aimed at fostering inclusion, Kingston Chambers also held a seminar on Planning and Recruitment for a Neurodivergent Workforce.

Susana Gonzalez, a specialist teacher and coach from Neurodivergent Bright Brains was also a guest speaker at the International Womens Day Brunch which welcomed over 40 members.

“I was honoured to be approached by the Kingston Chamber of Commerce to be a guest speaker at the IWD event,” said Gonzalez.

“It took conversations with other women who spoke to me about their own business experiences and offered their advice and support to gather the courage to take the leap in my career.”

Gonzalez, as well as guest speaker Jessica O’Neill from Harrison Jacks Ltd, offered insight into their journeys as businesswomen in male-dominated industries and how they balance their work and family life.

“There is not one right answer in life when it comes to career and family, everyone needs to find what works best for them. It is important for women not to judge other women and be supportive,” said Gonzalez.

The Chamber has a year planned with events to help all those in Kingston get ahead in business.

The second quarter Women in Business lunch will take place April 25 and will feature guest speaker Claire Harrison Director of West9 Design. Her topic is called Make Your Mark: Enhance Your Visibility with Personal Branding.

Gonzalez said: “I think the Chamber does a great job providing a great variety of events, most of which are mixed. However, I am proud that the Chamber recognises that it is important to strengthen the connections between businesswomen in Kingston so that we can continue to work and improve conditions for us and future generations of businesswomen.”

As the Chamber continues to expand its reach and impact, the Kingston Chamber of Commerce remains dedicated to supporting, empowering, and inspiring women in business.

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