Women in business face a unique set of challenges, especially if we’re working in male-dominated industries. The research tells us that women in male-dominated fields face a lack of support and have to work harder than their male coworkers to be heard in important decision-making settings.
Someone who knows this experience better than most is Frances Goh, an innovation expert, serial entrepreneur and champion of women-led businesses. Currently, Frances is working as the Chief Community Officer of One Roof, a digital membership empowering women in business, entrepreneurship and leadership.
Frances oversaw One Roof’s digital transformation in 2020 from bricks and mortar coworking to a fully digitised experience and has since onboarded over 1,000 members across Australia and overseas. Frances is committed to elevating women in business and curates the One Roof member experience to ensure it is tailored to their unique needs.
We had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Frances about her experience working in male-dominated industries (like investment banking), what power means to her and why she’s so passionate about building thriving communities and networks for women on the rise.
What does power mean to you?
“I think that at its core, ‘power’ is freedom of choice. I am acutely aware of the interplay between the internal power that individuals can harness and claim for themselves, and how external systems can either enhance individual power or disempower them.
Thus, those freedoms and options, especially for women, are heavily reliant on how well they are supported: financially, physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Power to me is the extent to which a person is supported, as well as how able they are to support others. In helping others, we are also able to lend our power to the people and causes we believe in.”
Can you tell us about an experience in your life where you regained a sense of power?
“It’s not always easy to stand in our power, especially when working in a male-dominated industry or a toxic workplace.
I know what it’s like to feel disempowered and it’s a very lonely, isolating and disappointing experience. It usually means that you’re being silenced in some way or your ideas are not being acknowledged. I’ve worked in and with traditionally male-dominated industries like investment banking and other toxic masculine environments that are not necessarily limited to the size or age of a company, such as startups that have had a ‘startup bro’ culture.
Among the times when I have felt disempowered, what has helped me to decide my next best step is to reflect on my values and how well aligned they were with the people or organisation I was working with. This also helped me to identify what or who was causing me to be disempowered.
I consider how closely linked my values were to the people or organisation to help me decide whether it’s worth continuing where I am or whether the best thing is to find a new environment in which I was respected and valued. For example, I had previously experienced workplace bullying, which was an exhausting and disempowering situation to be in.
Although this was being perpetrated by an individual, my values aligned with the work and broader organisation, so I was able to move teams and regain my sense of self and power rather than leave the organisation entirely. Grounding myself in my values reminds me of who I am, that I have power and that I can make a difference.
Another strategy I’ve used has been seeking out allies and communities of people who can remind me of what it looks like to be empowered. Building a strong support network is something I have done to borrow courage from these more empowered people in a time when I felt I was lacking in power, courage and confidence.”
You’re part of the incredible team at One Roof, a virtual membership for women on the rise. What is your favourite part of working at One Roof?
“My favourite part about working at One Roof is the beautiful synergies that happen when women come together to elevate each other. It’s a daily honour to catalyse or witness new friendships, collaborations and partnerships that result in new ideas, events and creations and serve women and society. The fabric of the One Roof community is in the connections that are formed and strengthened over time.
I am also so grateful to work with the most genuine, smart and kind people in both my direct team and the One Roof members who cheer each other on, troubleshoot challenges and celebrate wins together.”
Why do you think community is so important to lift up and empower women in business?
“The business and the entrepreneurial journey is tumultuous at best and heartbreaking at its worst, but not without its moments of fulfilment. Sharing these stories openly and transparently is part of what brings the One Roof community together and allows women in business to feel less isolated and alone.
One Roof is passionate about solving the problem of the gender gap in business and entrepreneurship, so we actively create safe spaces and opportunities for women to connect, share and learn from each other, in the hope that we can speed up women’s progress.
I believe that communities can become forces larger than the sum of their parts. I hope that by bringing together values-aligned people and businesses, we can also increase their positive impact on the world.”
What’s next for your career journey in 2022, and beyond?
“There are lots of exciting developments underway at One Roof in 2022 and beyond. At the time of writing, our wonderful founder and CEO, Sheree Rubinstein, is 38 weeks pregnant with her second child. We are excited to support her through her maternity leave so our team will be growing and I’m excited to be stepping into the interim leadership role.
We’ve experienced rapid growth since transforming the business from bricks-and-mortar coworking to a fully digitised experience and are continuously innovating. We are always listening to our members and not afraid to test new ideas.
This means we will be running more virtual and in-person meetups, launching new initiatives, conferences and opportunities for women in business to grow personally and professionally. We have an action-packed lineup of masterclasses, pitch nights and summits ahead so stay tuned for more!”
Hear to One Roof’s website to learn more about their digital membership for female leaders and entrepreneurs.