Lean In Belfast and Allstate celebrate successful partnership

Lord mayor Nuala McAllister joined Lean In Belfast and Allstate for an event at Belfast City Hall to celebrate a year long partnership between the two organisations. From left are John Healy, managing director Allstate Northern Ireland; Angela Byrne, Women in Technology chair and senior manager at Allstate; US-based Carla Zuniga, senior vice president Allstate and executive sponsor of AWIN (Allstate Women's 'I' Network), lord mayor Nuala McAllister; leader of Lean In Belfast Nuala Murphy; and head of Lean in Europe Emma Roberts

A CELEBRATION event has taken place in Belfast City Hall to mark a successful community and corporate partnership between Allstate and Lean In Belfast.

Launched back in January, #ALLtogetherNI has seen 600 people attend events aimed at addressing gender inequality and lack of diversity in the workplace.

Lean In Belfast members and members of the Women In Technology group at Allstate have attended sessions on networking, unconscious bias and knowing and owning your strengths.

Lean In groups have been set up all over the world to encourage women to pursue their ambitions, following the 2013 publication of the best-selling book of the same name by Facebook chief operation officer Sheryl Sandberg.

The Belfast group was first started in 2014 and through the partnership with Allstate has become so successful that it has attracted praise from the Lean In Foundation, which has 34,000 groups in 150 countries.

The City Hall celebration is the first European event of its kind for Lean In and was attended by new head of Lean In Europe Emma Roberts and US-based Carla Zuniga, senior vice president Allstate and executive sponsor of AWIN (Allstate Women's 'I' Network). Certificates were given to those who attended events throughout the year.

Leader of Lean In Belfast Nuala Murphy said: "It means so much for a volunteer- led organisation such as Lean In to partner with Allstate.

"Allstate's assistance has enabled us to work on a range of initiatives to bring the great programmes Lean In Belfast has to offer to companies and individuals alike and we have heard so many success stories throughout the year!

"By partnering with one of Northern Ireland's leading companies we have encouraged many more women and men to get involved and work towards gender equality in the workplace and society at large.

"The partnership has been hugely successful both in helping us grow our membership to over 1,200 but also in supporting and empowering women in their careers."

Allstate, Northern Ireland's largest IT company, is committed to addressing the gender imbalance in the technology sector and has run Women in Technology at Allstate (WITA), an enterprise-wide initiative, aimed at supporting and empowering women in technology, and creating a positive peer network, since 2015.

Angela Byrne, WITA chair and senior manager at Allstate, said: "We've had some amazing success stories; individuals who've come through and got promoted and were initially very nervous about going for it and didn't feel they had the confidence to do it - which is one of the key things we see, time and time again, in terms of how women and men's perspectives differ when it comes to their careers.

"Other individuals have come through the programme with a better focus around what they want to do with their careers, while others have been successful in launching new businesses. We wanted to celebrate all of it, and celebrate how you can start something small and local, and see it take off.

"This partnership has also helped to expand the Lean In Belfast community, too, so it's been a huge win-win that all began from a cup of coffee. We can take great pride in the work achieved in 2017. The advances we've seen this year really have surpassed my expectations, and have galvanised all of us involved to drive the gender equality further into the business world."

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