WeAreTheCity celebrates its 10th birthday | Thoughts from our founder, Vanessa Vallely

I am ashamed to admit it, but it was LinkedIN that reminded me that WeAreTheCity is ten years old.

I was horrified as to why I didn’t remember such a significant milestone! It was my husband that jogged my memory that we actually turned the website live in April 2008, however, we didn’t actually have our launch party at House of Fraser until September that year. Reason being, we had to save up for it! I honestly cannot fathom where those ten years have gone, all I can say is what an amazing journey it has been and will no doubt continue to be.

The story of WeAreTheCity is well documented in my book Heels of Steel, however the book finishes just at the point where I decide to leave my corporate job and focus on WeAreTheCity full time. I believe the last paragraph in the book relates to me putting my feet up for a while and working out where both I are WeAreTheCity would go from there. I think it was less than six months before we launched the job board and expanded in to India. I never have been one to sit still for long.

As I reflect on the years passed, I am also mindful of so many significant milestones that have occurred for women during that time. Despite the increase of activities around the progression of women and the gender agenda, I can’t help but feel that the pace of change has remained incredibly slow. As an eternal optimist, I still find it hard to read that it will take over 80 years to achieve gender parity. That is not even in my children’s lifetime! However, it is that shocking statistic that continues to drive me and so many others to push for change.

If I look at what I believe our contribution towards progression of women in the workplace has been, I cannot help but feel a little proud. We have played a small, but important part in the ever evolving story of female progression. Since 2008 our global reach has grown to 120,000 members. Over the past four years, we have introduced a number of services to help over 100 corporates attract, retain and develop their female talent. We poured our passion into our awards, recognising the achievements of over 350 women both in the UK and India. We have run over 85 learning events and four conferences to up skill over 8,000 women. We have focused on STEM, launching WeAreTechWomen and TechWomen50/100 and other career support initiatives such as Careers Club. This year we also celebrated nine years of Gender Networks, our network for gender network leaders. Over the past ten years, we have published over 12,000 articles across our various platforms to inform and inspire our membership. What we have built over the years excites me, both in terms of the resources we have created and the inclusive environments we have fostered in order to help women thrive.

We have also stayed true to heart, paying it forward and supporting numerous charities and social enterprises. We have raised the profile of thousands of women and men, alongside being a supporting voice for 100’s of diversity and female rights campaigns.

I am immensely humbled by what we have achieved, both in terms of our reach and how we have been able to support so many women along the way. There isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t see one of our Rising Stars or TechWomen continue to thrive, or a week where we don’t provide advice that puts an organisation or an individual on the right track. When we run our conferences or meet our members at a Careers Club event, we often hear how we have helped them progress in some way. I love the fact we get to play a part in the progression of these women, regardless of how small our contribution may be.

It is fair to say that our story isn’t just down to us. We would be nothing without the support of so many organisations and individuals over the years. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to our clients who have often been early adopters of our ideas. To our members and supporters, who share our passion and open doors for us when we are not in the room. To everyone who has ever written, spoken for us and judged our awards. To the individuals who have enabled us to share their stories and inspire our members, and last, but certainly not least, to everyone who has ever worked at WeAreTheCity, both past, and present. You helped make us who we are today! Our gratitude is endless.

Here’s to the next ten years!

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