The What Behind Let Her Speak
A question I get a lot is “what does Let Her Speak do?”. And the fact is our “what” has evolved a lot over the years. While most know us for our annual women’s summit (which is what started it all), we do a lot of other work that all focuses on community, research, and education. It took me several years (and a pandemic) to realize the bigger picture for what Let Her Speak could be beyond an annual event.
Our community work centers around sharing women’s stories and helping them connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. We also collaborate with other women-founded organizations on events that help elevate their work. We share stories through the She Speaks podcast, our Women’s History Month projects like The Found Project and Our History, Our Voices, our Words of Women project, and the Let Her Speak community blog.
Our goal with each event is to provide opportunities for women to step outside their typical circles and meet new people they would never have found in their day-to-day lives either because they work in very different fields, live in different areas, or have different lifestyles.
The research and insights that go into everything we do at Let Her Speak has been a part of our DNA since the beginning. When I was first getting feedback on my concept for a new initiative, I interviewed almost 50 people over the course of a summer to figure out what exactly needed to be created that didn’t already exist. I started grad school that fall with a pretty clear picture of what I wanted to do for an event to bring women together.
Fortunately, during my first semester I was connected to an insights and data analytics company called Survature (now Mapprio). Working with them, I learned so much about data-enabled decision making that I continue to use to this day. Not only do I collect feedback from the community through interviews and surveys (like The State of Mind for Women in Business study), but I also use academic research to support the work we do.
During the pandemic, I realized the missing piece to the “what” of Let Her Speak – education. The aha moment came while I was analyzing the insights in our first State of Mind for Women Business study. While I learned a lot about how women in the community defined success, received support, and set goals – the biggest finding were the barriers that were holding women back.
I discovered that the greatest barrier women faced was their own negative self-perception. That insight inspired me to develop our first workshop on imposter syndrome. Since then, I have developed two additional workshops that companies and organizations can bring to their members.
Over the last few years there has been a lot of new research around the wealth gap and lack of funding for women-owned businesses. This sparked the inspiration to start a summer workshop series we now call “Let Her Invest” (and we have an exciting new investment program we’ll be announcing this summer). The pandemic and time since also opened up a conversation about leadership – and more importantly the types of leaders the modern world needs.
These conversations made me realize that while Let Her Speak is creating opportunities to connect women and their stories – we are also helping women to be better leaders. Those growing conversations have been the catalyst to create a dual-cohort program for aspiring and established leaders. After working on getting this program off the the ground for the last 3 years, this fall I am so excited we will finally be launching the first cohort of the Let Her Lead program (and we are now taking applications).
While there are a lot of things we do under the umbrella of Let Her Speak – at the heart of our “what” is advocacy for ALL women. We advocate for women to be seen, heard, and valued. We advocate for women to be themselves outside their social roles. We advocate for women to be the rooms where decisions are being made. We advocate for women to become the leaders we know they can be.