I was lucky. I grew up in a home with both parents. There wasn't a lot of cash to splash around and we did ok. Mum and Dad worked hard and we had a pretty good life. No violence, no abuse, no junk food. I remember the day I started work for a private airline at Essendon Airport. I had been working part time since I was 12 (you could do that in those days). I saved up and put myself through business college and learned to type and take fast shorthand. Skipped university. I wanted to work. So they hired me. I was 19. Wet behind the ears for sure. Mum took me shopping to Fletcher Jones to ensure I started my new job looking the part. I'd had a sheltered upbringing really. I was safe. And then it happened ..... Some sleazy old bastard had a crack. I was naive, didn't know how to stand up for myself in THAT environment. All I can remember is coming home and being angry with my father. "You could have told me!" I had no idea that men could be like that. I hadn't grown up with it in my family and I had never seen my father behave like that with women. He was shattered and so was I. Fathers have a duty of care to prepare daughters for work and life. Sometimes that's about having some tough conversations. We need to hear things we wont want to hear. You see, I just thought all men had the level of respect for women that my Dad had. Fact: they don't. So it got me thinking about what young women in the workplace really need in their toolkit. I came up with a huge list of what I think is important, and then I got reconnected to the 19 year old Helen who was working at Essendon Airport in her Fletcher Jones suit. What would have made the difference for me? The confidence that comes with having the skill of how to navigate a respectful, assertive conversation. I was really good at the passive aggressive conversation (still good at that ....). Yet I froze with the unwanted advance. I just did not have the skill to manage this one. I do now. Essential skills for young women in business are numerous. The ones that would really have made the difference for me are assertiveness and self awareness. Being able to have a respectful and straight conversation and understanding the impact I have on others would have been a gift for me as a young woman. I'm running a program for emerging female leaders in Collins St Melbourne on 22 February 2017. This is the thing I am MOST passionate about - making a difference for young women in business. We will cover values, leadership behaviours, voice, styling, social media presence and more. What skills do you see that young women in your network need?