"There is nothing better than women sharing their stories, good and bad," says the former
PR supremo Lynne Franks, who has been pushing this kind of soft networking in
business for a decade, but is seeing it flourish now. "We have reached a tipping point of
women feeling strong enough to stand up and say they want to do it differently.
Traditionally, women have had to make it in a man's world by being assertive -- the
But, given a safe space, the masks come off. Women will be vulnerable in a way they
won't with men. And we bloom when we connect with other women and share our
stories. The instinctive businesswoman makes personal connections in meetings." She
laughs at us doing our interview by Skype, "in our nighties. New technology lends itself
to women and the way we connect."
Franks has worked with blue-chip companies, including McDonald's and HSBC,
encouraging them to nurture their female talent by "letting female employees share in
small, intimate groups". In the autumn, she is launching a female-only workspace in
London, with plans to roll out the concept across the UK. For an annual fee of Pounds
180-Pounds 300, women can use a well-equipped professional environment and have
access to mentoring, in a space that is as far from the sterile office norm as you can