Learning from the Lionesses to achieve your workplace goals

Written by Petra Martins

As a footballer and coach for her local girls’ team, Petra Martins, People Business Partner, understands the importance of understanding and enablement in attracting, developing, and retaining successful teams. In this update, Petra shares her experience of success on the pitch and draws clear parallels with our own organization. 

Achieving the goals that you thought were not possible

As winners of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, the England Football team, “The Lionesses” have been inspirational to me.

The skill and resilience that each of the Lionesses demonstrates when she plays is amazing, their ability to work together as a collective force is empowering, and I am always impressed by the recognition they give to each member of the team, whether on the pitch or behind the scenes, that helps them achieve success.

Watching the Lionesses win the European Championships this year made me reflect on my own experiences of playing in, and coaching, female football teams – the challenges we faced and the new paths we had to forge. I then began to draw clear parallels with the teams in our international workplaces.

The three parallels that immediately came to mind are the three pillars that support our Diversity and Inclusion initiatives: understand, enable, and attract.

Understand: We don’t shy away from difficult challenges. We take time to understand what is needed and act on that

The best football coaches take the time to understand their players, the challenges they face, and what drives them to succeed. I have enjoyed playing football from a young age and now I coach a girls’ team.
It saddens me to say that I experienced negative, dismissive attitudes in playing when I was younger; from the comments made to us – “Women’s football isn’t the same difficulty or standard as the men’s game!”, “Why can’t you still play if you’re on your period?” – to the inadequate levels of coaching, welfare, dressing rooms, pitches, even the kit we wore… everything was poorer quality for us than for our male counterparts.

Understanding the challenges our female players experienced, using them as a motivation to drive change, and bringing our skills together to make change happen was a learning for me as a women’s football player; and it still is in business.

As my colleague Lizzie explains in her blog about women in Tech thriving, rather than surviving – “I have learnt to confidently tackle people who form the wrong opinion of my work because I am a woman. I seize those challenges as opportunities to help people question, and improve, their preconceptions about me and other women who work in tech.”

Within PRMA Consulting, a part of Fishawack Health, fostering learning and action across our teams is at the core of our ‘understand’ pillar. Our initiatives include a series of diversity dialogues led by colleagues and educational talks from marginalized populations, these are supported by employee network groups led by members of our senior team: Gender, Family, LGBTQ+, Race/Ethnicity, Enablement, and Mental Health.

Enable: providing positive role models and coaching for success

No matter how many years my team of girls have been playing football, they are committed to their training. They work on their fitness and skills, they review our strategies, and they practice. As their coach, I am there to support them and help them maximize their potential, improve their performance, and help them become the player they want to be.

There is a clear parallel with our workplaces where we are dedicated to helping colleagues be the best they can be. We encourage ownership of career development plans with clear paths for progression so colleagues can proactively improve their skills for their current job and acquire knowledge and skills for new roles and responsibilities. We also work internationally with students through the Fishawack Health Youth Mentorship and Coaching Programs. We want to help to equip future business leaders with the confidence, skills, and network to enter the workplace confident to be themselves, to be brave, and to challenge.

Positive role models are incredibly important in football. Ian Wright for example, is a superb example of championing women’s football – to see a male former footballer who won trophies in his career, show his unequivocal and emotional support for the women’s England team is so inspirational.

In our workplaces we also encourage positive role models. From the women who are pioneering market access technology to our colleagues who are visible LGBTQ+ role models – we believe that positive role models can help build bridges where there are barriers and misconceptions; they can inspire others to be themselves at work if they want to be; and they can encourage everyone to achieve great things.

Attract: we value difference and attract and retain a diverse team of international experts

All of the successful women’s football teams I know have players with diverse yet complementary skills. In our workplaces, it is the same, and that is what makes working at PRMA Consulting and Fishawack Health so special for me; we value difference – each colleague has a unique contribution to bring and we harness the full capabilities, thinking, and diversity across our organization to be effective.

From market access strategists to medical writers, from IT developers to UX designers, there is nothing off-the-peg about our colleagues. The diversity of our teams helps us to address the individual needs of our global clients.

We play for the team. Our work cannot be done in isolation. We know that the most progress is made, and good things happen, when we work collaboratively with one another and with our clients (1 of our Fishawack Health core values).

Our ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

England’s Lionesses winning the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 has increased advocacy and momentum within the sport. I hope this helps put the women’s game on a more equitable footing and continues to inspire a new generation, like my daughter, so they can see that there are opportunities for her should she decide to pursue playing football at a professional level.

PRMA Consulting also continues to increase the momentum of its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to build an inclusive workplace that is supportive, welcoming, and fair. We have always been, and will continue to be, an organization that is proud of the diversity of our colleagues, empowers them to be their best and whole selves, and shares the unique value of our diverse teams with our broad range of market access clients.

If joining our team appeals to you, and you are committed to delivering first class work, please look through our career opportunities or get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

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