"Being the young woman in senior meeting rooms: Trying to "fit in" in a work culture made by men"
Being the "young woman" in senior meeting rooms: Trying to "fit in" in a work culture made by men
with Helene Banner, Founder of "Let's Just Be Imperfect, Ladies" Mentoring & former speechwriter at the European Commission
When Helene entered a meeting room during her 10-year career at the European Commission in Brussels and Berlin, she was often mistaken as the "assistant" or the "young intern" at meeting tables or on panels mostly with older men. But she was a spokesperson of a European Commissioner at 29 years old, the head of the EU's communication team for Germany at 30 years old. In the beginning, Helene thought she just had to become "stronger" and "tougher" to be taken seriously in difficult situations - but a burnout experience made her realise that constantly trying to "be someone" means we are not able to show our full potential as women.
In this EWMD Online Dialogue, Helene will share her story of trying to "fit in" and failing with it, her 3 learnings from this experience and what made her realise that nothing is wrong with us (young) women, but that many work structures are simply not designed for female strengths, not welcoming for diversity and authenticity. Her message: when we stop fixing women and start fixing work cultures, we can together change power structures and our economy to be welcoming for more diversity. At the end of the dialogue, Helene will share her tips on what we can do to build our confidence. Her recipe: let's dare to be authentic at work - with all our female strengths, our needs and...our imperfection.
About Helene Banner
Helene Banner is a women's confidence mentor, speaker and online entrepreneur who has been a media and press advisor at the European Commission in Brussels and Berlin for ten years. She was the speechwriter of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and worked in Ursula von der Leyen’s team to prepare her candidate’s speech which made her the first female President of the European Commission in July 2019. From 2014 to 2017 Helene was the head of communication at the European Commission’s Berlin office.
In 2020 she created her own mentoring business „Let’s Just Be Imperfect, Ladies“. In her online workshops Helene connects women from around the world to give them the courage to be authentic in their workplace, sharing her own experience of trying to toughen up and „fit in“ as a young woman in senior job environments - which ended in a burnout. Her message: when we dare to be ourselves as women, we can change the unwritten rules of work culture in many organisations - and feel more confident in the process.
Next to her online business, Helene is a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges. She graduated as a political and communication scientist from the London School of Economics, UK, Sciences Po Lille, France, and the University of Münster, Germany.