Choosing to challenge gender bias with Lift As You Climb

This International Women’s Day, Nimbla’s CCO Elizabeth Jenkin tells us why she co-founded a new kind of networking group aimed at women.

Fittingly, it was at the school gate that Jane Gibbon, JUST EAT’s Head of Reward and Benefits and Elizabeth Jenkin, Nimbla’s Chief Commercial Officer chose to found a networking group that would open doors for hundreds of women. “It’s a work in progress but I just absolutely love it and what it does”, Elizabeth enthuses about the network, Lift As You Climb. Choosing to challenge bias is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, so in this blog, Nimbla’s CCO tells us what led her to #ChooseToChallenge the disempowerment she observed around her.  

How did you come to co-found Lift As You Climb (LAYC)? 

EJ: “It originally started as a completely different kind of idea. Jane Gibbon and I founded Lift As You Climb, our children go to the same school, so we met in the playground. [Jane] is in HR, she’s Head of Reward and Benefits at JUST EAT and she’s worked at lots and lots of blue chip companies. We had very similar frustrations around seeing all these fabulously talented, educated women. Many of them wanted to come back into the workplace, but there was a lack of confidence.”

“Women’s [careers] are more like lattices because you take career breaks or caring breaks…” – Elizabeth Jenkin, Nimbla CCO

“[We thought] ‘What can we do now that can make a difference?” We had both been to a networking event individually, and insurance networking events are of a type. You just meet people of the same age, the same colour, the same industry, you drink bad wine and listen to somebody talk, you and then go home and actually get very little from it. It doesn’t fill you up. So we began to think about how we could do it better.” 

What makes LAYC different?

EJ: “Networking is designed to be quite linear. It’s either by industry or by age group or by ethnicity, and so you get stuck in these ruts. What you tend to find with women’s careers is that they’re now ladders. Men’s careers have been traditionally like ladders whereas women’s are more like lattices because you take career breaks or caring breaks, so we don’t take these traditional lines. We might change industry, upskill at different points in our lives, re-enter the workplace. So there’s lots of different skills and help that we need along the way. So that’s where Lift As You Climb came from. We are for women who have decided they want to go back to work.”

“It’s a community of giving.” – Elizabeth Jenkin, Nimbla CCO

EJ: “We said, we’re going to ask multi-generational people to come in this network from all industries. It’s that idea of inclusivity as well, a community, family feel. In a family the young learn from their grandparents in the grandparents learn from the children, and the parents in the middle learning from both. So there’s always learning going on. Particularly in a family, you want to help that person progress all the time and be the best they can be.

One of the ways we’re different is that we don’t just allow people to come, drink, listen and go. We break them out into groups and they actually have to contribute while they’re there. And Lift As You Climb was born. We are now on our 5th or 6th event. We’ve got a network of about six hundred people now after two years. [LAYC] is a come one come all, everybody welcome, every age, every industry. But if you do come to this network, you have to help other people, and in turn they will help you. So it’s a community of giving.”

You can learn more about Lift As You Climb and how to get involved on the network’s website.


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