Donna is delighted to welcome Charly Young to the podcast.
In 2013, Charly co founded The Girls' Network with her colleague, Becca. Starting out as a one-to-one mentoring scheme for 30 girls, The Girls' network has grown to support over 1000 girls a year aged between 14 and 19 to overcome barriers and access to opportunities, as well as giving them the confidence and skills to seize those opportunities and thrive.
Their impact speaks for itself: 93% of girls on the programme last year said their mentor had improved their confidence, and 96% believe their mentor has helped them feel more positive about the future.
In 2020 we were extremely proud to launch a new partnership with The Girls' Network as part of our Who Wins When You Win Campaign. So for anyone who doesn’t know, we help businesses and individuals to recognise their teams and business achievements with hugely valuable awards.
And to give them and our team an even greater reward, every time one of our clients wins an award we make a donation to The Girls' Network. We’ve just launched the campaign for 2020 and we’re really looking forward to sharing our winning success with this fantastic cause, because together we believe that no girls should have their futures limited by their gender, ethnicity, background or parental income.
Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Hi, I'm Donna rohtul, and you're listening to my exclusive winning awards podcast. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. I've seen firsthand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solve problems, supercharge brands and raise profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community. In this podcast, I'll be sharing valuable awards, insights, tips and inspirational stories to make sure that you get the recognition that you deserve, so that you can go on and achieve your dreams. So what are you waiting for? It's time to start winning. Okay, good morning, and welcome. Thank you very much for joining me today on another episode of the winning awards Podcast. Today, I am delighted to welcome Charlie young to the podcast. In 2013, Charlie co founded the girls network with her colleague Becca starting out as a one to one mentoring scheme for just 30 girls, the girls network has grown to support over 1000 girls a year, aged between 14 and 19, helping them to overcome barriers and access opportunities, as well as giving them the confidence and skills to seize those opportunities and thrive. And that impact speaks for itself. 93% of girls on the programme last year said that their mentor had improved their confidence. And 96 believes that their mentor has helped them feel more positive about the future. In 2020, we were extremely proud to launch a new partnership with the girls network as part of our who wins when you win campaign. So if you don't know what that is, basically, we help businesses and individuals across the world to recognise their teams raise their profile and recognise their business achievements to grow their their business by winning hugely valuable industry awards. And to give them and our team an even greater reward. Every time one of our clients wins an award, we make a donation to the girls network. So we've just launched a campaign for 2020. And we're really looking forward to sharing our winning success with this fantastic cause. And together, we believe that no girls should have their futures limited by gender, ethnicity, background or parental income. So welcome, Charlie. And thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you very much for having me. And thank you so much for your support for girls network. It's hugely appreciated. Oh, you're very welcome. Very welcome. It's exciting. So I'm what have you really lovely is to first of all, just to start out talking about your journey. So can you give us and our listeners a whistlestop tour of your journey so far? So how did you move from being a teacher to starting the girls network and then building it to where it is today? Of course. So yes, I used to be a secondary school teacher. And I trained with Teach First, which is a charity that places teachers into some of the most disadvantaged schools around the country. And so I think, you know, when my co founder back, when I started training, we knew that we would be in some challenging circumstances, and that the young people would be working with, you know, weren't just coming to school and having to learn, but actually, we're already dealing with all sorts of other things. So some of them were young carers, some maybe hadn't had breakfast that morning, or didn't have the right equipment, various things going on for them in their lives before they even began to think about accessing the curriculum and learning. But on top of that, I think we were really struck pretty quickly, early, quickly in that journey, by the double disadvantage that the girls were facing. So by virtue of the fact that they were girls, they and other people had certain expectations about how they should behave, how they should look, the kinds of things they should aspire to. So, you know, they felt like they've got to be pretty neat and tidy, and they got to get everything, right, the real fear of failing in front of other people or fit failing in general. So even when there were opportunities presented to them, often they wouldn't take them because of that fear. And that was really coupled by the fact that for many of them, they were coming from incredibly supportive communities and families, but they didn't necessarily have the knowledge, the access information that would enable those girls to get where they wanted to go. And often adults were doing jobs to bring in money rather than necessarily pursuing the careers and ambitions that they were really passionate about, or pursuing those things that the girls themselves might want to do. And typically, the women were working in lower status, lower paid jobs. So we talked about the five C's cleaning, catering, clocking, tearing, and cashiering. Obviously, all incredibly valuable jobs, and absolutely nothing wrong with them. And for the girls that really wanted to do that. Fantastic. And but as I said, typically they're lower paid lower status. And a lot of our girls didn't want to go into those careers, and therefore they could see nobody liked them doing the things that they were passionate about. So, you know, I had a girl in my classroom who wanted to be a criminal psychologist, and short of seeing mostly male actors on TV doing that role. She saw nobody else doing it and therefore decided that that was not something that she could do because of who she wasn't where she was. And that was incredibly frustrating seeing these fantastic young women who had bucketloads of skill and potential and drive and capability, writing off all these features that they might dream of just because of who they were and what they and other people believe they can achieve. So that was really the catalyst to start to do something about it. And initially, Becca, and I invited some women we knew from previous careers from university in one evening to speak to the girls just for a couple of hours to have a sort of speed networking evening. And it was amazing, because these jobs and these ideas of women that had been very abstract to the girls before suddenly became really tangible, and really relatable, because you know, him in front of them was a person they could relate to, and have a conversation with, who was doing the thing that they might want to do. And they began to see the path between where they were and where these women were, and that that was possible. And it was really that sense of possibility that I think, transform something in the way they were thinking about themselves and their futures. And we just thought, if you can do that in a couple of hours, how much more could you do if you captured that experience and the energy and that commitment from those women and channelled it to the girls that would benefit from it the most for a longer period of time. And so really, that's where, where the mentoring programme was born. And we did a little bit of research to see, you know, is this just the gardener classroom, it is a problem that is more widespread, and found that it really was a challenge facing girls up and down the country, and had been a challenge for a long time, typically, because girls overall outperform boys at GCSE. They've often been overlooked in some of the challenges that face them, are essentially ignored. But actually, we know that when you break down the demographics at that level, not all girls do outperform boys. And actually, we know that that translates into challenges further on in terms of pay in terms of positions of power and responsibility and influence. And obviously, not all girls want to do that they should be able to if they do want to. And then we did a bit more research to see what you know, what are the things that make the difference. And it came out saying that one on one conversations with professionals, mentoring relationships, and experiences within a workplace are the things that had the biggest impact on the way young people see themselves in their futures and the things that are most effective at challenging some of those stereotypes. So we built the mentoring programme, initially with 30 Girls, to try and build skills, build confidence, and encourage girls to dream big and know that they can achieve achieve the things they dream of. But then actually providing that support to enable them to get there as well. And then alongside that, we established the sort of wider network. So after a year of mentoring, the girls join our ambassador programme, and that's a lifelong network, assuming they choose to engage with us, for the rest of their lives, we'd love them to where they can continue to connect with individuals can continue to connect with organisations have opportunities and support throughout their journey, wherever it is that they're going. And then we hope that one day they will come back and they will be mentors for us to support the next generation. So that's sort of where we've come from and how the programme works. And fantastic. And actually, I so I joined one of your events at the last at the end of last year with the girls on it, who were talking and actually, the ambassadors were talking to each other about what they had experienced over the year and what the pandemic had meant to them and different opportunities that have come up and challenges that have come up and the maturity there was incredible, but also that I think from having that mentoring from the that reaching out to each other and almost mentoring then each other, you could see how that attitude was then filtering through into the way that they are then with their peers. Absolutely, we definitely see that kind of ripple effect going on the girls and their peers, and also their siblings. And for us a great sign of success in the work we're doing is when there are girls in the school that we work with wanting to stay on the next year, because they know they might get to join the girls network. It's that kind of reading of aspiration. You know, girls talking about their mentors and the things they've learned and other girls, they're all I'd love to do that as well. You know, we've had some mentors that have invited a mentee and her friend loan to a conversation with a professional where it's something the friend wants to do as well. So there's definitely that that impact on on Yeah, so that that lovely ripple effect, which is brilliant. And that's one of the things that attracted me to talking to you actually last year. So I didn't have a conventional start in life. And when I was 16 I was looking after myself and had to earn money to look after myself and have a quite challenging time. But had to still get through my my GCSE and things as well. Now I've got a 16 year old and an 18 year old girl myself and you know and I see the challenges they're having and I'm able to, you know, as their mum, mentor them through those with with education, etc. But for me, I think i think it was actually you that asked me last year for a video about becoming an entrepreneur and how i become an entrepreneur and you know what i think it was genuinely the first time i'd actually sat down and thought oh i'm an entrepreneur before that so i first went into my first business i started at 19 i'm not the business i'm in now but it was the my first business that i started and i learned so much from that but absolutely had no idea that i was an entrepreneur at that time just so all i need to add some money and this is a great way of doing it and i've got this great idea and actually and it worked and it was brilliant but it was interesting because you'd asked me for a video to show to the girls about becoming an entrepreneur what that meant etc which was lovely and really nice opportunity for me to share my story but i was thinking that well are these girls now thinking about becoming entrepreneurs you know because at my age i know when i was 16 or you know in in my late teens i was not thinking about becoming an entrepreneur but i know that some of them already are and i'm sure some of them are already on it on selling things on tik tok my eldest has got so many side hustles businesses going on not only keep up with it so tell me a bit about that what's the kind of how does that work for the girls are they thinking right we want to go i want to have my own business or are they thinking i have no idea what i want to do so i just need some help or i really want this particular career or is it like a mix yeah i mean it's definitely a mix and to pick up on what you were saying before about sort of different routes into jobs and careers i think for us that's really important is not being prescriptive about the right and wrong way to do things or the right and wrong thing to aspire to but very much about you know what it shouldn't matter where you're from or your gender or race or any of that shouldn't matter you should be able to pursue the thing you want to pursue you know and you might want to get to the top of the game or you might not but that should be a choice and it shouldn't be just the privilege of the wealthy or men that get to choose and everyone else has to sort of make do with with whatever is given to them so i think that's really important and it's partly why for us we want to tell stories we want the stories of women in different positions who have been successful in lots of different ways i suppose to inspire girls to show them that it's possible and to show them that you can get there in different ways as well yeah when it comes to being an entrepreneur it's interesting to hear you say that as well i had a very similar process and then looking back with hindsight i found lots of points in my life oh i guess that was fairly entrepreneurial i wouldn't be able to put a name to it or a word to it i think for the work we do some of it is actually about describing and exploring and unpicking some of these fairly abstract concepts otherwise and you know understanding for the girls that they've got different skill sets and they've got different passions and that can translate to lots of different ways of earning a living and being fit feeling fulfilled in the future and many of our young people are incredibly entrepreneurial i ghibli in difficult circumstances you need to be entrepreneurial you've got to problem solve you've got to you know look at a situation and work out what how do i make the best of this how do i get out of this situation or how do i turn this situation around which you know arguably a really important set of skills in being an entrepreneur we've got lots of girls that have started online businesses online youtube channels or as you say tick tock actually ever locked down that's increased i think it's futures see more and more uncertain and as the word more and more digital actually the both and imperative to do that but also things are much more accessible and there's a kind of device incredible now isn't it now that you can you know for hopefully those girls who can get online but i think as well what's really lovely about that what i'm starting to see i don't know if you are but i've through my own children is through is that they're they're realising what their passions are and then turning those into business because they just enjoy doing it and it and then they realise oh someone else might like that so my eldest has a she's a great artist she has a jewellery shop she has a design shop she has all these things going online and then i'm interesting though because she wanted to she was going to go to university to become an architect and then she had a complete u turn and was like no i don't really want to be an architect and i know i've got i'm doing all the right eight levels and the rest i don't really want to be an architect i want to go into design for performance in like theatre i said well then why did you why have we been visiting all the universities that do architecture and she said because i thought that's what everyone else would want me to do and it's really interesting what you say about what they think the expectations on them are said i didn't think people would take me seriously if they just think i'm rt and i said no you know you're capable of whatever you want don't be thinking what what anyone else is you know thinking about you but they do don't mean it has a huge impression on them i mean i think one of the as i got older one of the things i thought passionate about has been encouraging people to follow their own path following their own journey and not feeling like they have to do what other people expect. I very much fell prey to that, you know, you've got to go to university, get a job full enough, get married, buy a house. And that's brilliant for lots of people. But that doesn't work for everybody. And, you know, I think it's, it's a live thing that if you do what the world expects of you, you're going to be happy. Yeah, but but it's a really hard. It's a really hard expectation to smash. It's really hard to get outside of that way of thinking. But I think one of the ways of doing it very much is following your passions and following that you care about, admittedly, it's a privilege. And I think it would be sort of wrong to not acknowledge that I feel very lucky that I've been able to do that. And you know, sometimes there are parts of it compromised, right? You do jobs that you'd make choices, because you have to. But I think if you know what you're passionate about anything know what you care about, you can begin to think about how you can pursue that in some fashion. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. My youngest, actually, at the moment, she's just going to be going to college in September. And she was saying, Oh, well, so she wants to do a kind of childcare, education course. But she loves baking, and loves cooking, and all of that. And we had discussed her going into some kind of catering and Chef route, you know, type of things. She said, No, do you know what I think I'd like to work with children. But because I love cooking, I'm going to do that as my thing on the side. And that can be my side thing. And so it's, it's kind of nice, I think for them to be able to see this. And some I'm sure for me, I know for me, I'm sure you know, for you. And a lot of other people listening to this, I was not always doing the job that I was passionate about. Or loving, I was doing a job to put money on the table and be able to feed myself. But I think if you can somehow keep that passion alive in you, and maybe even just know that it's might be temporary, or it's a means to an end. And it's a means for me to actually just make some money right now, because that's functional. And I need to do that. But that doesn't mean that I can't think about or create or you know, write down or draw pictures or whatever it is, it's the thing that I am passionate about and keep keep that dream alive. Definitely. And I think that's what a lot of our mentors do for the girls actually is help them to understand themselves, what is that passion? And what is that thing they love and help them to think about how they can be doing it in some form or other. And I think it's one of our ambassadors who, in her first year of university at Cambridge, I believe, first of all having to go to university and certainly first to go to Oxbridge. And you know, it's been brilliant. There have been, of course, challenges, but she's really doing it. But then alongside it. She's an absolutely incredible photographer. And she was doing that because she loved it. She really enjoyed it. And she some of her friends in sort of photos, and hey, you're really good at this, can you take a photo? And so it's just kind of blossomed alongside it? And you know, she maybe will do it as a profession, but probably not, it's probably always going to be a hobby, you know, she, she's dreams of being a politician. Maybe that maybe the Prime Minister, one day we're gonna we're going to produce the Prime Minister of the Government. Yeah, but it's very much that if I actually I can be few things I care about. And let's see where life takes me. And I think what's important to say as well is men's role in this. Because I know when we were first talking, I was saying, Oh, well, you know, we have men that work for us. And it would be lovely for them to get involved. And then we you were talking about the importance of the girls needing female role models, because there aren't so many available to them in perhaps TV shows and things like that, which I hadn't really thought about at that time, then it became really apparent. And then it made me realise, well, actually, my mom was an entrepreneur and in part of her life, and she bought her own business, but I didn't even really notice at that time, that was role modelling. And therefore, when I came to a point in my life where I needed to make money for myself, I was like, Oh, well, I just go, I just go do that, because I had had that role model. You know, there who had done that for herself. And I hadn't really thought about that. Then when you were talking about that, and saying well actually is female role models that we really need for these girls so they can see and visualise it being possible for people like you know, that person's like me. And I think that's that's such an important thing for them to better visualise. Definitely, yeah. And I think, you know, I think your point about men as well is important that, you know, we work with female mentors, who are mentors who are women, and that's very much the role modelling piece. We want the girls to be able to see women that they can relate to being successful in different fields. But, you know, that's that sort of mindful exclusion, because actually, we are wanting to engage everybody as much as we can in other areas of our work. You know, we recognise people of all genders care about gender equality and gender equity and inclusion and diversity and it's really, really important. You know, there are many men in positions of power that care hugely about equality and bringing women and girls up to and they are a really powerful part of the solution. And they're affected so you know i'll be very much as we want everybody to be involved in some way in the work we're doing bit through workshops through fundraising advocating for work but then the mentoring pieces for women because of the role modelling modelling yeah and it's interesting because i have seen that a couple of times as well because in a different way and again since having that conversation with you i'm more aware of these things now and so one my youngest daughter plays cricket and my partner's daughter plays rugby both traditionally male sports and my partner his coaches are girls rugby team as well and he was saying you know how interesting is that when the ladies rugby team come and help out how the girls just come alive because they you know they're not just being taught by this guy who runs around doing rugby but they can see themselves as these ladies who are really successful in rugby so they can visualise themselves and it spurs them on and motivates them and gives them that bit more drive than just telling them and hoping that they can see it yeah i mean it's that you can't be what you can't see saying right like it's yeah possible but it's it's incredibly difficult it's so much more helpful if you can if you can visualise yourself doing that and he say it's incredibly important yeah so so now the obviously the pandemic we're all going through it and we're all in it together but that must be having a huge impact on all the children who are trying to learn from home if they've got the facility to do that it's definitely impacting on us we're fortunate to have online learning regarding that my girls are doing their gcse and i know also it's important time so how are the girls that you work with getting on and the schools that you work with and tell us a little bit about how you're managing and supporting them and yeah i mean they're accurately finding a lot of incredibly challenging there is varied access as you mentioned to online learning beat up because of schools provision varies also because the girls have univariable access to computers or internet or actually quiet space i think for a lot of girls that's the challenge they're in households who parents are multiple siblings and so to find a quiet room to sit and do their schoolwork or indeed sit and speak to their mentor can be a real challenge i think we're also seeing real impact on mental health there's as i mentioned earlier real uncertainty about the future and that's scary you know the girls and young women have been going up through the education system and constantly being told you've got to do one new exam if you want to get anywhere you've got to aim for you know the university or high quality whatever high quality apprenticeship or you know great job but that is your aim and the minute those goalposts move nobody knows that example happening or not all how they're going to mark they don't know how to succeed in the same way they don't know if they can go to university they don't know if they're gonna be able to get a job it's really frightening i've had a real impact also the lack of socialising not being able to see your friends obviously it's been important that schools were closed at point but that it's completely taken away that social circle and you know social media is one way of accessing but for those young people that struggle with that and we know again that can have a really detrimental impact on mental health it gives us a perfect storm really so that's a challenge and you know the good thing is having meant having a mentor is a really helpful way to navigate that and give the different perspective and give the kind of wave of stepping outside of that sort of intense feeling sometimes for that's been a challenge too i guess on the flip side we've seen huge amounts of resilience and huge amounts of creativity and coming to back to that entrepreneurial spirit the girls have constantly amazed us with the things that they've done via setting up of talking to a girl who said have a youtube channel with her siblings as a way of her being creative but also a way of engaging her her siblings and taking you know what a fantastic thing to do yeah that's really helpful to them i think and they've just kept on going they've turned up to other workshops who haven't we've had online they've you know engaged with medics they've engaged with entrepreneurs like yourself actors and actresses people work minds whatever it is they're passionate about they come online and and are still committed to finding out more about how to pursue those goals but it has been really really tough yeah i'm sure and then and for you as a network and yeah how are you managing because obviously you've you know we've all had to make some kind of digital pivot the word of the last year so how are you managing to like keep in touch or be if you've got any other kind of creative campaigns or anything else that's happening at the moment yeah i mean we were lucky to some extent because we had already piloted a hybrid mentoring programme so a combination of in person and online conversations and that was driven by the fact that although we're really committed to him personally can because we know it's a quicker way to build a trusting relationship and particularly when you're working with young people some of whom are very vulnerable that really, really matters, you need to have good relationship, you need people that are committed, and I've got to be able to stick around and be there for that for the girls and young women. But we wanted to test the hypothesis that once you've done that a bit, actually having video conversations and speaking over, you know, this sort of platform would impact in the same way, and we still have the same kind of levels of impact on the girls. And, you know, we piloted it with 15 Girls and saw huge amounts of impact. So when the pandemic hit, I mean, we'd always been planning on having a bigger scale pilot, and it forced us to have a large pilot. And, and further on through the year without the in person conversations at the beginning at all. But it's, it's gone generally really well. We're looking at the results of it now, and comparing the different types of programme. But girls seem to have really benefited feel from it. So that's been a really positive outcome. And I think, you know, we were fortunate to be in that position to start with. In terms of our team, we were working partly remotely anyway. So again, we've been fortunate that we had the systems in place. And if anything, I think it's taught us how we can do that even better. So for the employees that were already remote, we've now all experienced that, we now all understand what kind of additional cultural things and social things you need to support that feeling of connectedness. But we've had quite a few people join the team over the period of time. And aside from having them for slightly less time, I feel as close to them as they do to the rest of my team. And I think it goes to show that you can effectively connect with each other on virtual platform. And hopefully for for years to come when the girls in your network or in the workplace. And out there, they will experience that level of flexibility that often women do need more. And so I know when my children were growing up, and I was working, I didn't have that kind of flexibility. And actually, the attitude was while you're at home, so how can you possibly be working? When you'd be thinking, Well, I'm working, I am working, I just, you know, I have to be around because my kids are here. And hopefully, in the long term, this will positively impact on all of our girls that are going out into the workplace. Absolutely. And it's really true. And you know, the workplace is likely to change, we're likely to be in a more virtual world. So this is probably very good training for that. Yeah, absolutely. So okay, lots of people still going through a very difficult time. But, you know, we're trying to think about how we can everything positive that we can do and take from this and share and what do you think if you could give any kind of advice now, both to young women and perhaps to, you know, to older ladies, like myself, who you know, what can we do to help? What can you suggest for the young people? Is there any kind of tips you can give us starting off positively in 2021? Yeah, I think a few things, I think one probably for everybody. And something I try and tell myself a lot is just being kind to yourself and not expecting too much yourself acknowledging this is a really challenging time, and is taking a lot of emotional energy just to keep going through it. So I think remembering that is, you know, baseline really important. And I then think conversations. So So in terms of supporting our people, having conversations about what they're worried about, and like being open and upfront about those recognising that everybody's facing that, and that's really important. And then talking still about what what are your passions? What do you want to do? I think, you know, recognising that despite the world, being a tough place is not always going to be this tough. And there are many opportunities out there. So actually, how can we think more creatively about how we use our time now? How can we pursue our passions? Who can we talk to? And how can we take advantage of the fact that everybody's at home now and we have a virtual world? So who's sitting there at home that you might otherwise not be able to get half an hour with, you could drop an email to and say, Hey, I love what you do. Have you got any time just to speak to me for 10 minutes and tell me more about your life and your work and how you got there? I would expect that lots of people would say yes to that, particularly if it's coming from a young person. Yeah, absolutely. So I think it's, you know, thinking about how can we be creative about that and, and be positive and hopeful for the future? Yeah. Brilliant. Thank you, Charlie. Thank you, it's been really good to learn more about the girls network. And I just want to say for anyone listening, you know, if you want to connect with an organisation that's got a fantastic intention and fantastic results, and is doing really good things that are practical and doable, and, I don't know, as a as someone who's working myself, it's hard to find time to, you know, to give support, but now we are like you saying this virtual world, you know, perhaps you you know, perhaps there's people listening who could give an hour, you know, every month or something like that to talk to a girl and to inspire them and or perhaps you've got an unusual business journey. And actually it'd be really lovely to talk about that and for people to hear so anyone listening who has got that desire to support and help these girls to get to where they want to be and to help them to reach their potential please get in touch with Charlie We will, we'll put some links on the podcast as well, so that we can share that. So. But thank you so much, Charlie, we really appreciate it. And thank you for working so hard and for all your team with everything that you do with the girls and good luck to all the girls in their future aims and careers. And I looking forward to having more excitement with our who wins when you win campaign. We've already got wins coming in. This is really exciting. So we're really looking forward to continuing our partnership with you. And yeah, thank you very much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for listening to this episode of my winning awards podcast. If you enjoyed it or found it helpful, please share it on Twitter and LinkedIn. And if you have any questions, please head over to crafted by auguste.com, where you can find out more about winning awards and contact me. On the website. You can also take our free awards test, which will identify your award strengths and tell you how likely you are to win. I really hope you've been able to take away some ideas today so that you can go ahead and win awards have an even bigger impact on the world and achieve your dreams.