Making a difference – maximising female potential from recruitment to retirement

That’s the lofty aspiration of Women to Work’s Founders and Directors Emma Shute and Jenny Pollock with their inspiring I-Lead Women’s Development Programmes™

Women to Work is a business with social aims that supports women’s personal and professional development. It all started with a cup of tea and a conversation about the unfulfilled female potential Jenny and Emma could see all around them and has since become a passionate aspiration for them both to make a difference to women’s development both ‘into’ the workplace and ‘within’ the workplace.

Since that cup of tea Jenny and Emma have worked with women at all levels from a variety of different backgrounds, with both self-driven individuals and across public and private sector organisations. This work and their interest in global women’s initiatives and research has led them to think about how best to enable women to support women, and how to help create organisations with environments where women can develop in a way that suits them, appreciating that some women have leadership aspirations but not all do, and those who don’t still want to feel fulfilled, engaged and able to work in a way that makes them feel proud.

“The idea behind the I-Lead Women’s Development Programmes™ is to use and build the internal knowledge, ability and integrity within an organisation to create a self sustaining and embedded culture of development and inspiration for women” says Jenny

They have research they have gathered in both the private and public sector that informs their thinking and have recently joined forces with the University of Sheffield on a specific piece of research using the information gathered in their Work Life Discovery Coaching Workshops that they regularly run free of charge in association with Sheffield Business & Intellectual Property Centre at Sheffield Central Library.

All three of the I-Lead programmes have coaching and mentoring at their core and will support solutions identified in research to enable women to overcome the barriers they face with the aim of creating greater gender balance and a fulfilled potentialised female workforce which Jenny and Emma, as social entrepreneurs hope will have a positive societal impact now and in the future.

“yes they are indeed lofty aspirations but we know you can only reach what you aim for – so we’re aiming high.” Jenny remarks.

Mindful of organisational capacity all 3 programmes can be offered through in-house workshops or as a full or part online learning programme either via Women to Work’s online learning system or in-house online learning systems.

So what are they all about …….

I-Engage™ – to maximise potential – is a programme for women at all levels with a focus on maximising individual potential, considering professional capabilities, developing greater job satisfaction and planning a career pathway whether that be up or across. Making the most of each woman’s abilities and maintaining interest, engagement and professional development.

I-Ignite™ – a passion for leadership – is a programme for potential female leaders from graduates to middle managers who have leadership aspirations and want to focus on how to get there whilst also gaining an understanding of the skills of a leader, and identifying if they have them and how they can get them.

I-Inspire™ – leaders who motivate – is a development programme for senior female leaders with a focus on becoming the motivational leader and inspiring role model for other future female leaders and a supportive mentor within their organisation.

“It’s a ‘win win’” says Emma “as the women within an organisation develop the self-sustaining skills to develop and empower themselves they can also become peers, co-workers, managers and leaders who can develop those around them. It creates a culture of opportunity for all, whatever your aspirations, it embraces individual self-driven development, and encourages everyone to bravely put themselves forward to enable each individual to reach their professional potential. In turn, organisations benefit from all the characteristics abilities and styles of management and leadership that both genders have to offer, creating a better working environment for all.”

And that’s not all ….. Jenny and Emma are delighted that the work they are doing is having an impact….

Their Women’s Development Programme “Successfully Managing your Work Life Through Change” for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue (SYFR) is testament to Emma and Jenny’s passion and is having some positive impact. Francesca Edmonds, T/HR Manager – Organisational Development at SYFR states

“The programme has lead to developments such as operational skills workshops, focused on female operational incident commanders, to practice, build confidence and stretch their capabilities within an incident command setting. In addition SYFR has identified a number of opportunities to support female development. These include linking in with wider national women’s development organisations and developing information and training, in relation to the awareness of all managers, around real and perceived barriers for those from underrepresented groups within the organisation and how managers can help and support individuals to overcome these.”

This has now led onto a Women’s Development Programme being offered nationally through Women in the Fire Service UK and being hosted a different Fire and Rescue Services across the UK with London Fire Brigade and Humberside Fire & Rescue Service having already successfully completed the programme and three more in are now in progress.

As has their Empowering Women Programme for Chess ICT, Number 1 in the 2018 Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For.

“Off the back of the programme we have already improved our maternity and paternity offering, added “Harvest Festival” days to our benefit offering, this allows our people to never miss an event at their child’s school. We have created parent champions to support our people. Several women have gone for promotion or changed role after taking part in the programme and have publicly acknowledge that it has made them feel more confident.” said Kate Wood Culture Director at Chess

These are exciting times for Women’s Development for more information about the work Women to Work do contact Emma Shute and Jenny Pollock at or visit