An Interview with Cassie Buckley, founder of OUP's Women's Network

Posted on September 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

What is the OUP Women’s Network?
The OUP Women’s Network is an employee-led initiative that facilitates the career progression of women within OUP. It is a global network that gives branches the ownership and opportunity to shape their own programmes, made up of speaker sessions, workshops and networking opportunities – all in the focus of delivering personal and professional development for women.
Can you tell us how long the OUP Women’s Network has been active and how it came about?
When I came into OUP in July 2018, I was thrilled to see I had joined an organisation that paid real attention to the conversation around Diversity and Inclusion. Not long after arriving, I was invited to a Pitching Session with my new team. Our objective was to present ideas for new projects or initiatives we could introduce to the organisation. This is when I proposed setting up a Women’s Network to facilitate the career progression of women within OUP. It ticked a lot of organisational objectives and fell well in line with our Diversity and Inclusion goals and so it was met with great enthusiasm. Once approved, I met and spoke to as many women I could to hear what they would want from a Network like this, and from there I shaped the current programme for 2019. We officially launched in November 2018.  
What inspired you to pitch the Women’s Network?
When I joined OUP I was thrilled to see the focus on the conversation around Diversity and Inclusion. Up till then, the little career experience I had had mostly focussed on female empowerment. I had the opportunity of interning for a female networking firm in Australia which gave me incredible insight into the challenges women can face in the workplace, and what can be achieved through female support and collaboration. This experience inspired me to launch the Oxford Brookes Women in Business society in my final year of university.  I had been working on that for a year just before joining OUP so it was all still very much in my blood when the pitching session came round! 
What kind of activities have you held so far and what upcoming plans do you have?
So far we have been focussing on our global launches these past few months. We did not want this to be an Oxford-centric initiative so we pushed for international inclusion from the start. When we launched in the UK, we had launches in Brazil, Pakistan and India all in the same week, with New York joining us the week after. These events were designed to kick off the conversations to find out what the women in these branches were looking for in a Network, the results of which have now gone in to shape their individual programmes. My main focus on a global level is encouraging and supporting other branches to start their own Networks. 
In the UK, we have already had a few events; a Goal-Setting workshop for those looking to make some concrete Career New Year’s Resolution and a Panel event focused on the benefits of Mentoring. However, my favourite event was when we hosted Yassmin Abdel-Magied to come and speak on Unconsious Bias. We look forward to our future events on the topics of Networking and Negotiation Skills. We have also started an OUP Women’s Network Book Club, focussing on career-development titles. 
What has been the reaction from OUP colleagues to the Women’s Network?
The Network would not be what it is if it wasn’t for the immediate support I received from my colleagues. When I first proposed the initiative, I thought it would only amount to a programme of monthly lunches and the occasional online debate. Of course I wanted more, but with being at the company for only a short while, I never imagined I would be given the opportunity to organise anything more than that. I was initially quite cautious with the ideas I presented, not wanting to push my luck, yet I was only ever met with enthusiasm and then encouraged and supported to think bigger. This support came from all levels of management, male and female. 
What do you enjoy most about your work developing the OUP Women’s Network?
Launching this programme has been an incredible journey. Not only has it fast-tracked my knowledge and understanding of OUP’s culture but it has introduced me to the most inspirational women. As I’ve spoken to these people, I’ve learnt so much from their individual experiences and it’s completely broadened my understanding of what it is to be a woman, let alone a working woman. And when you have these already incredible people coming up to you and thanking you for what you’re doing, you can’t help but think that’s the highest compliment you could get. 
Why is a Women’s Network important?
I think this ties in well with the theme from this year’s  International Women’s Day – #balanceforbetter.  Primarily, we want to ensure that women have every opportunity and capability to achieve their goals and own their success, but it goes beyond that. For me, it’s about showing society that the benefits of what we’re trying to achieve won’t just be for women, it’s for everyone. There is an endless amount of research that outlines how important diversity is for organisations and societies, but I think it’s our responsibility to prove it.   
Your social channels etc. to follow
Instagram: @maidinoxford
LinkedIn: Cassie Jane Buckley
Twitter: @maidinoxford_