No seats were empty Wednesday at a reception given by the senate in Hamburg’s City Hall to mark International Women’s Day (March 8th). Katharina Fegebank, Senator for Science, Research and Equality highlighted achievements such as equal rights, reconciling work and family life and a growing number of women in executive positions. However, Fegebank also pointed to new disconcertion: “Time-honoured, secure values such as freedom and democracy are being questioned apparently.” However, not everyone is querying such values, said the senator, and noted “a new solidarity and creativity which is putting our democracy on a new foundation.” Fegebank stressed the importance of networks that have grown over years and which improve the clout and visibility of women.
Visibility – key to success
The Digital Media Women (DMW) is such a network and was presented by Christiane Brandes-Visbeck, Head of DMW Hamburg, in City Hall. Founded in 2010, the network now counts around 800 members who are active in seven chapters across Germany. Around 20,000 followers keep a keen eye on the network’s activities on Twitter and over 8,000 on Facebook. Hamburg is the hub of DMW which has set itself the goal of raising the visibility of women across all stages “at conferences, in specialised media or on the board of management“, according to the website. “Visibility is a key element of success. Name, reputation and of course networking are decisive in the era of digitalisation.”
Targeting social media channels
DMW’s meet ups provide attractive framework conditions for traditional networking in various locations. Themed nights featuring high-calibre executives and industry figures and various digital events partnered by DMW also offer opportunities for making contacts. Digitalisation provides diverse opportunities for working on personal media visibility and using especially social media channels to reach a target group. “Xing and LinkedIn are ideal for being generally findable and for boosting your career. Twitter is particularly interesting for opinion makers as the medium has a high reach. Facebook is also attractive as it allows visibility on the one hand and networking with experts in Facebook groups on the other hand,” said Brandes-Visbeck, who is also owner of the Ahoi Consulting agency, which specialises in communication and innovation in the digital era.
Women managers in era of digitalisation
Digital transformation is offering women diverse opportunities, according to Brandes-Visbeck. Irrespective of stereotypes, active communication, understanding, keeping up contacts and simply networking are often instinctive qualities that women have “and networking is central in our digital era” and particularly to leadership. “Management in the digitalisation era is female,” Brandes-Visbeck believes and pointed to other female attributes. Although typical male attributes such as courage and resolve are important, “social skills such as empathy, eye level communication and conveying appreciation as well as mentoring are equally important.” After all, employees today are motivated not only by money and career moves. They also seek sense and worth in their work, she stressed. Leadership means offering them such a working environment – especially against the backdrop of rapid transformation in the wake of digitalisation.
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