The EMEA M-WIN Steering Committee is an impassioned and dedicated team leading Mizuho Banks’ women’s network. The Committee works off the side of the desk dedicating free time to deliver a range of events, facilitating discussion within the organisation around the benefits of diversity and inclusion, and focusing on topics including career growth, risk & resilience.
Lydia Brookes
Lydia Brookes
EMEA Women's Network (M-WIN) Steering Committee, Mizuho Bank

The Committee also focuses on internal change management to make some big differences in the organisation including helping improve parental leave policies for both women and men, re-launching a mentoring scheme, as well as encouraging female members of staff to feel empowered to drive their careers.

They have been nominated for the 2019 Team Diversity Award. Lydia Brookes, Director, EMEA Syndications & M-WIN Steering Committee Member kindly answered our questions to find out more.

How does it feel to be nominated for our Team Diversity Award?

It feels fantastic to be nominated. When we started the network 2 ½ years ago we really weren’t sure what kind of traction we would get, and what we would look like in 6 months let alone 2 ½ years. We had a vision to create a positive change in Mizuho but there were no flesh on the bones beyond that. Until this year we haven’t focussed on external value, and it’s fantastic to be recognised for a lot of hard work that we do that is outside of our day to day responsibilities.

Can you tell us more about the objectives of M-WIN (Mizuho’s EMEA Women’s Network)?

We review our objectives every year as we evolve as an organisation and as a network. We review the year ourselves and honestly appraise what’s been happening, and ask for feedback from members to tailor our objectives and approach. This year we’re looking at 5 key categories; communication, stakeholder engagement, large scale events, smaller exclusive events, culture change and corporate social responsibility.

For communication, we want to personalise the Steering Committee and increase engagement with members. With our stakeholders, we want to bolster image in the market and use M-WIN to develop a strong, positive external brand. We’re looking at grounding both our large scale and smaller events on variations of wellbeing, including financial, personal, professional and career. In particular, we’re fascinated by the gender investment gap, and want to highlight this (and what we can do about it) to our members (and us).

M-WIN runs a mentoring programme, what advice would you give to someone considering undertaking mentoring?

M-WIN helped Mizuho to re-launch the internal mentoring programme and continue to work with our learning and development team and Young Person’s Network to keep it fresh and visible. We acted as champions throughout the business for internal and external mentoring, as well as reverse mentoring which was piloted last year. The advice we would give is to organisers is to persevere even if there isn’t huge uptake – to many people the concept is woolly and it’s personal stories that help bring it to life. There are always success stories which help keep you going.

If you’re about to embark on a mentoring relationship, congratulations! It’s a wonderful opportunity to develop yourself and your career. Mostly, we’d say be proactive, it’s your relationship to drive and build, so be clear about what you want (or if you aren’t sure!) and ask for honest feedback. It’s so rare to get direct, honest feedback and it’s such a gift, so the more clarity you have the more honest your mentor can be.

What motivates you to do what you do with regards for championing women?

I think we are all motivated by our experiences in the industry. We started because we felt really strongly that as women at Mizuho we were missing a support network. Things can happen and knowing you have people you can rely on (some peer mentoring!) for advice, support and excellent pep talks is wonderful. At the start we were the only network in Mizuho, so now seeing 4 other networks establish and grow is also extremely motivating. It keeps us on our toes, and makes us want to keep building the network. Now we have a fantastic platform to showcase the exceptional talents of women at Mizuho, and further build the network of male allies, it feels like we’ve got critical mass for real change.

What has been the hardest career decision you have had to make?

I am not sure I have one individual difficult decision. The hardest aspect of my career to date has been building my confidence. I’ve dealt with impostor syndrome for much of my career, and it’s been a long road for me to know that I’m capable and trusted by colleagues and clients. Trusting my ability in my day to day role, and using that to then plan a path to where I want to be has been hard won.

What are you looking forward to in the next few months?

We are all looking forward to the start of summer, when hopefully the day to day work will slow down just a touch as the holiday season starts. That should mean more time to plan our next moves for M-WIN and get the next 6 months of events and meetings lined up!