Earlier this year at the International Women’s Day #choosetochallenge Luncheon, The Bloomfield Group’s Renata Roberts was given the opportunity to share her personal story and journey. After being contacted by multiple people following her speech, she was inspired to develop a platform for other people to share their stories.
Renata’s story had a message, and that message included a call to action for change. A call for everyone in every organisation no matter what their position, to step up and create an inclusive workplace that allows everyone to bring their authentic self to work.
Sharing her personal story to a crowd of many unfamiliar faces, Renata couldn’t foresee the impact it would have on men and women everywhere wanting to share their own journeys.
“It seems that my speech did reach the hearts and minds of many people because since that moment I have had so many stories shared with me; stories that I believe need to be heard by others,” said Renata.
“I said it in my speech and I say it on my website, that every story we share can provide fuel and inspiration to help others to take their own journey towards not just workplace diversity, but importantly inclusion as well.”
One weekend at the end of March 2021, Renata sat down with her husband Neil to reflect on the response her story had received and decided something needed to be done for those who aren’t given such an opportunity to share their own journeys.
“Neil encouraged me to write them myself, so I started to write a couple of them and in the meantime, he was researching how to build a website. Before we knew it we had our website up running sharing a few of the stories and it’s grown so fast from there,” said Renata.
Renata tells how it was three responses to her own story that made her realise how important it is that stories be shared because of the difference they can make to someone else. The first was a lady who asked Renata to have a photo with her 16-year-old daughter because the mother said that she wanted her daughter to remember the moment that highlighted she could do anything she put her heart and mind to.
The second was a gentleman who cried and thanked her for sharing her calls to action on behalf of his three daughters. Like all fathers he wants his daughters to have the world at their feet without barriers or roadblocks because of their gender. He also said he realised that as a leader in his business he now saw changes he could make to be more inclusive for the people in his team.
The last response was Renata’s favourite. A lady who did not attend but heard about Renata’s journey from a friend and how Renata had learnt that you can have both a family and a career and you don’t have to choose one over the other. She wrote to Renata and said that she was anxious of telling her manager she was pregnant as she felt it would be not well received. She also shared how she wasn’t enjoying her pregnancy with the concerns about the impact on her career. Hearing Renata’s story of how you could have both a successful career and a successful family gave her confidence to tell her manager, who turned out to be very supportive.
“My story had inspired someone to know they can do anything, someone to make a difference in their workplace in how they lead, and someone to chase a dream,” said Renata.
The website, ‘They Who Share Their Stories’, was prepared to share real stories, written from the heart, with a message and call to action on diversity and inclusion in all workplaces.
“It initially commenced with it being around gender, but soon I had stories of mental health and gender, and sexual orientation too. It’s all about how important it is that we have inclusive workplaces so everyone can bring their true self to work,” said Renata.
“Diversity and inclusion is not a women’s issue, it is a societal one that everyone needs to do their bit to make the change.
“Each of the stories are headed by “she who shares…” or “he who shares…” and you will see on the website there are already so many that have been shared by men.”
Upon visiting the website, you’ll see that each post contains pieces of real stories written from the heart and that have a message, and those messages include a call to action for change. The story is brief and gives the key parts that help touch the mind and heart of the reader. The message is made up of facts and information that can help the reader to read between the lines. The call to action is what must be done and by who, so that no one gets away with reading it without knowing that they can help to make a difference.
On a final note Renata said, “Although I don’t know who sends a message through the website, I have had people tell me that it was them and they have been so thankful to have read their message up there on the website being shared and that response has been overwhelming and inspiring me to keep the website going.”
Anyone can submit their story completely confidentially through the website under “Contact”. If anyone has a story, a message, a call to action, they can send this through the website and Renata will prepare the story, message, and call to action to be shared with others to help workplaces change.