Are you put off by social justice warriors? 👸

Watching these women making waves and building wealth 🚀

Welcome to the third edition of The Upgrading Women Newsletter 🔥

I’m your editor, Rebecca Leppard, a feminist and communications nerd whose high school was burnt down by Jakarta rioters in 1998.

The events surrounding that riot included murders of student activists and overthrowing a three-decades-long government regime. I was 15, and I so wanted to be part of the reform activism.

That’s partly why I chose journalism at university. 🎓

The country has calmed down since then, and my attention was diverted towards the world of 💡 marketing instead.

Now in my late 30s, I envy Gen Z for their clever use of social media as activism platforms 📲. Yes, of course, one could be just a ‘keyboard warrior’ but so many changemakers are using what are meant to be marketing channels as their megaphones. 📣

If you think the term ‘personal branding’ is just for influencers, think again as you read the line up of gutsy Gen Zers in this episode 👸 

Enjoy! 🎉

What happened last week: increased demand in egg-freezing treatment

The demand from female patients in the UK to freeze their eggs has almost doubled since the pandemic, the BBC reported. While I’m not surprised at this amazing way to overcome your ticking biological clock, many still see this as outrageous.

Since 2014, tech giants like Apple and Facebook have given their employees the flexibility and freedom by providing fertility benefits. Recently in the UK, companies like NatWest (female-led, BTW!) are giving up to £45,000 coverage for fertility treatments to employees.

In their report, TechRound said that it could be viewed that companies offering this perk are actually trying to encourage women to work for more years rather than supporting them in the growth of their family. As if that’s a bad thing 🙄

I mean, what is wrong with women working more? As usual, everyone has to pipe up when it comes to the female body.

Anyway, if fertility is top of mind for you, follow this femtech: Hertility Health.

🚨Would you freeze your eggs? Email me your story: rebecca@upgradingwomen

Good news from around the world

An Afgran refugee, Marzieh Hamidi, won a taekwondo championship in Baku, Azerbaijan in May this year and is now preparing to compete in 2024 Paris Olympic. The 21-year-old athlete who fled Kabul is also a woman’s rights activist. Hamidi will be competing for the Refugee Olympics Team.

A message from a communications nerd:

👉 how to communicate inclusivity

Unilever, the parent company of brands such as Dove and Ben & Jerry's, has announced an expansion of its Act 2 Unstereotype initiative. This move is aimed at addressing the issue of stereotyping in influencer content, promoting inclusivity and fair marketing. The company intends to influence positive change in the industry through this initiative.

This is not the first time that Unilever has done its bit for diversity and inclusion. A few months ago, Dove launched an anti selfie-filter campaign. I have to say as a user of bold glamour myself, I can imagine what the digital alteration can do to distort a young person’s self image.

What to remember when you’re communicating inclusivity:

  1. Inclusivity is about everything, not just race or gender. Don’t let your board complain about it being too much or “Oh, now every one wants to be included.” D’uh! The clue is in the name.

  2. It’s an iterative process. You will not get it perfect the first time, and don’t act like your job is done once you launch one initiative. Conversely, let’s not participate in cancel culture. We are all learning.

  3. It needs a proper budget. It is a mammoth task that requires resources and organisations must be intentional in allocating theirs. An afterthought event or half-hearted effort can be recognised a mile a way!

Featured Female Founder

Gaby Mendes was struck when her teenage student asked absolutely-not-stupid-questions like, “Miss, what's the difference between a credit card and a debit card?" or "How do I navigate my career in my 20s? When should I move out of my parent's home?" That’s when the seed of Talk Twenties was planted in her mind. It started with a podcast and now have evolved into a whole media and event production.

That’s what SHE said:

How did you manage to land a corporate job after teaching?

By starting at the bottom again, to be perfectly honest with you. I was poorly paid, I was starting jobs at the same level as graduates. I'm so much happier. It was the best decision I ever made. But in that moment, it was really hard. And it was risky to do that. And I think that's why a lot of people don't quit jobs because it is a challenge. And it was!

Not knowing the light at the end of the tunnel how did you manage to keep the faith?

There's an element of manifestation where you actually have to do the work, everyone. You have to go out and take action and actually do it. So I really immersed myself in self-development at that time. I listened to podcasts and learned from other people who had done similar things. It inspired me to keep going. I didn't allow myself to become the person who had gone back to the bottom of the ladder and was figuring out their life. I never let myself wallow in that state for too long, really.

Have you ever come across a challenge when you're pitching or when you're trying to build partnership because of your womanhood?

I had an acquisition opportunity where the business was approached for acquisition. I strongly believe that if I had been male or a little older, I wouldn't have been messed around as much as I was and told to jump through about a million different hoops. Every time I jumped through that hoop, a new hoop would appear to get it signed off. And I personally think they missed out. And it was on them. And I think they just kind of maybe underestimated the value and the worth that I have and what this company can potentially do. So yeah, it was definitely the right decision but I definitely look back on that and think, I don't think if I was someone different that it would have happened like that.


🤓 Read the full interview with Upgrading Women or listen to the Career Sisterhood podcast episode.

What to enjoy next week!

📕Book My Life in Full by Indra Nooyi 
She was born and bred in Chennai, not even the capital city of her homeland, India. But she worked her way to the top of the top: CEO and chairperson of PepsiCo, named third-most-powerful woman in 2008 by Forbes, and now sitting on the board of directors at Amazon. And she’s done in without betraying her culture: she used to wear sari to work at Boston Consulting Group. I’m a massive fan of hers so I will do a deeper dive in the next episode.

🎙️Podcast Girls that Invest with Sim and Sonya
All talk and no action. That’s what I found a lot of ‘women empowerment’ social accounts seemed… Until I found this one, which talks about the practical side and economics of being an adult woman. Our relationship with salary, saving and spending. Something we normally would sweep under the rug. Do yourselves a favour: listen to the podcast (in which I am honoured to be featured), buy the book, join their class, build your wealth, girl!

📺 Show Swimmers by Sally El Hosaini
Biographical film about real-life sisters who fled from Syria to Europe. They swam for hours in Mediterranean seas to reach Greece as asylum seekers. One of them went on to compete at the Rio Olympics. This is a bittersweet tearjerker. You’ll want to be kinder to your immigrant neighbours after watching!

👋Need to gain hours back from your week?

We just launched a package to take LinkedIn off your plate for every budget starting at £750 

Check it out and  DM Emily for a discovery chat 👋

How she’s done it ✔️

Nadia Murad survived ISIS captivity in Mosul where she was raped and enslaved as a 19-year-old. Today she is the founder of Nadia’s Inisiative and the first Iraqi and Yazidi to win a Nobel Peace Prize. She did not let the trauma define her but instead she build a powerful personal brand to advocate for gender equality.

Here’s what we can learn from her:

  1. Use the media

    Still under threat, she testified to La Libre Belgique, a Belgian daily newspaper reporter using an alias. She then manage to join a refugee programme in Germany. Now she has written and been interviewed in so many news outlets in her own name.

  2. Use the status

    She capitalised on her credentials as UN’s first-ever Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She shared stage with Amal Clooney and getting support from Pope Francis.

  3. Use all the platforms

    She wrote her memoir, The Last Girl. She published a documentary on YouTube to raise awareness about the 2014 Yazidi genocide. She accepts cryptocurrency donations for her cause.

Inspect her 🤖 gadget

Something to add to your tech stack: Witty

I know you want continuous improvement in being inclusive, so here’s my concrete signposting for you: Witty, a browser extension, will judge and nudge your language in email, social media post etc. as you write. I have personally used it for a year now and it has helped me to be aware of my biases. If you use it as an organisation, you’ll have team dashboard and analytics too!

Inclusive work is an iterative work!

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

One last thing ☝️ if you found this useful, help a sister out forward it to someone in your network. Plus, adding value to your network by sharing a link for them to subscribe will add to your good Karma abundantly!

See you next Thursday. LOL!