Virtual is proving crucial to rebuilding our economy

Alyse Nelson, chief executive of Vital Voices, who will be among the speakers at the inaugural Virtual Voices of Leadership Conference run virtually by Women in Business
Roseann Kelly

CHANGES over the past few months have been far reaching and deep rooted, and businesses are having to adapt to new ways of working, including offering a more flexible and employee centred approach. The virtual world has never been as important or relevant.

And like organisations across the world, Women in Business had major events planned and a positive outlook for 2020. We started the year with successful annual Women in Tech and Female Entrepreneurs Conferences, but then Covid-19 struck and the economy began to collapse creating a domino effect, taking down with it local businesses and the prospect of a prosperous year. However, we chose to remain resilient, passionate and power on.

By engaging with our members we quickly identified their challenges and their needs and reacted quickly to deliver support for our members to help them keep fighting the fight. Our virtual event series has delivered 28 events over four months and engaged over 1000 people - and we are just getting started!

With ongoing challenges around hosting and attending events in person, we aren't deterred from supporting and encouraging business women to develop their careers and businesses as we seek to recover from the impact of Covid. We are all embracing the new normal and the way we now work, network and collaborate professionally, which is why we cannot undervalue the importance of virtual events.

With recent research by Eventbrite revealing that 62 per cent of people have attended five or more virtual events in August, and with almost half of people paying to attend these events, we know this once unconventional form of communication is a much-needed pillar of support for businesses. Virtual events are crucial to forming new connections, to gaining new knowledge and for wellbeing support

So, let's not dwell on what we can't do but rise and welcome this opportunity with open arms. That is what Women in Business has chosen to do. From round table events to a series of wellbeing webinars, our schedule of virtual events is diverse and we are excited to be delivering the inaugural Virtual Voices of Leadership Conference.

This virtual half-day conference will welcome speakers Sharon Thorne from London, chair of Deloitte global board; Alyse Nelson, the Washington-based chief executive of Vital Voices; Norah Casey, author, broadcaster, publisher from Dublin; and also Elaine Birchall, managing director of SHS Group and NI Water chief executive Sara Venning.

The event will shine a spotlight on inspirational international female leaders, who will share their perspectives on leadership, the extra responsibility of female leaders to secure diversity of leadership in all sectors of the economy, in all sectors of society and in all countries of the world.

Now, more than ever, Women in Business we will do all it can to ensure females in business throughout the country recover and grow. We will work together to rebuild and come back stronger.

Roseann Kelly is chief executive of Women in Business. To find out more information on upcoming events, including how to register, visit www. or email

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