All rise the female change makers who are empowering businesses to drive forward

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All rise the female change makers who are empowering businesses to drive forward

Sarah Bar-Lev and Louise Robey know how to power positive change in an organisation and are spreading the word about the role's values

Rebecca Moore, Louise Robey (centre) and Sarah Bar-Lev at the Women in Change Summit 2023
Rebecca Moore, Louise Robey (centre) and Sarah Bar-Lev at the Women in Change Summit 2023

In the ever-changing world of work, a new wave of entrepreneurs are cropping up to transform businesses. Aka, change makers.

Taking creative action to drive and lead positive change within an organisation, change makers play a crucial role in shaping the future and success of businesses, often with a social purpose.

While not a new phenomenon, change makers have grown in popularity in recent years due to a combination of global challenges, technological advances, and cultural shifts that have propelled them into the spotlight, making them influential and sought-after figures in various industries.

So much so that Jewish entrepreneurs Sarah Bar-Lev and Louise Robey set up an organisation, alongside their high-profile jobs, dedicated to fostering the development of female change makers – a growing demographic.

Launched last year, Women in Change is a private members network connecting and amplifying professional women working in change and transformation. They run regular networking events and an annual summit, bringing together over 100 change makers from a range of industries.

Sarah, 54, and Louise, 56, have been working in change long before it became fashionable. Sarah is a consultant at PA management consultancy, specialising in people and change, while Louise spent 25 years at the BBC – working in change since 2015 – most recently as Lead Change Manager.

Louise Robey, Women in Change

Louise tells Jewish News: “We are going through an industrial revolution; technological advances, global challenges, an ageing population, people are working later – we are going to have to rethink everything. Businesses know this and will need to take the role of change makers very seriously, putting it at the heart of their business projects.”

Sarah adds: “Many millennials and Gen Z’s, known for their values-driven approach to work and life are seeking careers that align with this and enable them to make a positive impact, contributing to the rise of change makers that are passionate about driving social and environmental change.” The term has also been popularised by media outlets and influencers, championing those who make a positive impact.

Sarah Bar-Lev, Women in Change

“The convergence of these factors has contributed to a surge in change makers in recent years, each driven by a shared vision of creating a better future through innovation, advocacy and action.”

She continues: “’Change maker’ has indeed become a buzzword in recent years, as it encapsulates the values of social impact, innovation and leadership, which are highly valued in today’s society. It serves as a rallying cry for individuals and organisations committed to making the world a better place.”

In June, Women in Change, which has attracted members from leading companies including Next Beauty, Twinings, Lloyds Banking Group and the Ministry of Defence, will hold its inaugural Women in Change awards. Sponsored by Diageo, the awards will showcase women who are not just participating in change but actively driving it.

Louise has over 16 years experience leading change programmes in business. At the BBC, she was head of change for the major new build of Broadcasting House, which won an APM Project Management Award in 2013. She was also one of the founding governors of JCoSS. Louise left the BBC last month to start a portfolio career. A majority of her time will be dedicated to building on the success of Women in Change.

Sarah was senior business change manager for the UK Ministry of Defence, head of change, Strategic Command before joining PA Consulting.

It was Sarah, who lives in Oxfordshire, that founded Women in Change. “I designed it as a way to widen my network but was really taken by the number of women wanting to connect.” London-based Louise got in touch with Sarah and joined as a director, alongside Rebecca Moore, who previously drove organisational change, culture and leadership transformation at bp.

Sarah built the business as a testament to both her mum, who passed away in 2022, and her son Joshua, who died aged seven from cancer, 25 years ago. “Both these experiences had a massive impact on how I look at life and my mum dying was a big eye opener for me to use what years I have left effectively.” Today, WIC has around 200 members.

Sarah and Louise note that women make particularly effective change makers. “I would say that at least 80 per cent of people doing this role are women,” notes Louise. “Maybe women have more empathy, or are used to juggling, or perhaps are just more interested.”

She says that while people are realising the importance of female change makers, their status is still undervalued. “They are generally brought in to businesses when it’s all going wrong but they should be there from the start.”

“Change makers often focus on long-term, intangible goals such as social impact, which may not always be fully captured by traditional business metrics like revenue and profit,” adds Sarah. “So their contributions may be overlooked by stakeholders prioritising short-term gains.

“Some people are resistant to change, which can hinder a change maker’s efforts, and change makers that are women, or members of marginalised groups may face additional barriers.

“Women in Change are standing up to these, and other challenges that change makers face to elevate their status and create an environment where their contributions are recognised and rewarded, and help ensure that change makers are valued and empowered to continue making a difference in the world.”

The next Women in Change Summit takes place on 14 November 2024


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