We #ChooseToChallenge

Our vision is to lead in building thriving communities and that means communities which are fair and equal to all, with all the societal benefits that equality, diversity and inclusion brings. That's why we're proud to support the #ChooseToChallenge campaign.

So, to mark International Women's Day (IWD) on Monday 8 March 2021, we are celebrating some of our many inspirational female colleagues who contribute so much to our communities, our homes and our workplace. Here they share some of their experiences:

“We have the opportunity and authority to encourage, support, mentor and champion others” - Helen Moore, Group Director of Orbit Homes

“I have worked in a heavily male dominated environment for my entire career and whilst there have been big strides over the years, the construction and property sectors remain predominantly un-diverse in many areas.  

“I am often asked about being a female in this environment and the challenges I have faced.  I always say that, on balance, I believe being female has been a benefit and I have embraced the fact that I am different and authentically me (for good or for bad!).

“So often I have been the only female in the room but that means you have standout factor, generally a different perspective to the same issue and a real opportunity to shine.  The best teams are made up of a diverse, mutually respectful group of people who are prepared to challenge each other for the greater good.

“Of course, there have been sceptics or critics over the years and whilst it is important to listen to and learn from that feedback, the very best and most satisfying way to prove your worth is to let your effort, commitment, leadership style and results speak for themselves.

“Some of the most rewarding moments of my career have been seeing other women who have worked for me, progress to successfully achieve their own career ambitions and with that they have enhanced the prospects for others to follow them. 

“As each of us achieve our goals, we start to diminish the concept that ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’: it becomes self-evident that there is no glass ceiling to hold us back. We have the opportunity and authority to encourage, support, mentor and champion others; allowing their own doubts to fade and self-belief to flourish. This is clearly our duty if we value the strength that diversity, in all its rich and delightful forms, brings to our teams and organisations.” 

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders”
 - Julie Kay, Channel Development Manager, Customer Experience

“I not only work in housing, I work in the technology side - even more male dominated - and I’ve also worked in automotive manufacturing, so have learnt lessons along the way from some great role models.

“They taught me the importance of staying true to yourself, your skills and your experience, and the importance of building strong networks of like-minded leaders to share experiences and ideas - but not just women. As my favourite quote highlights: ‘In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders’.”  

“We are equal and deserve to be treated and paid the same”
- Clare Sykes, Social Impact Coordinator

“I have always been in a male dominated environment, from teaching martial arts to male only classes, to running a construction office for multiple sites for male only subcontractors.

“I am passionate about challenging stereotypes and inequality. I learnt quickly in life to be loud, be proud and speak up. I do not need to be a man and I will never say women are better. We are equal and deserve to be treated and paid the same.” 

“Be honest, challenge constructively, always be yourself and smile”
- Pippa Reeve, Placemaking and Partnerships Manager

“During my career, I’ve worked in the private, public and third sector and have faced various challenges along the way. 

“Being the only female working on construction sites taught me resilience. Working with local and national government both in the UK and overseas taught me patience. And my present role in social housing has taught me compassion. 

“My top tip for anyone starting out on their career is to be honest, challenge constructively, always be yourself and smile.” 

“Be the helping hand” - Sukhie Dhillon, PA/Team Co-ordinator

“Being a PA/Team Co-ordinator was never on my radar as a career choice. I didn’t feel I had the right skills or attributes. But a year on and it is the best decision I made. Thanks to the support from my managers, I have been able to grow and learn my own way. The freedom to develop and learn new skills is definitely the best.     

“I have had barriers in my life, be it culture, society, race or gender related. However, I will ensure I don’t impose those barriers on my children and will give them the knowledge to overcome them.

“To be successful, be confident in your own abilities. When you get to where you want to be, remember the struggle and be kind to others that have not quite got there yet. Be the helping hand.” 

“Barriers can be knocked down with a good helping of self-belief and a can-do approach” - Karen Martin-Boulton, External Affairs Manager

“My top tip for success is really believing in yourself, which in turn could enable you take new leaps! In my case, I moved into the housing sector after spending 13 years of my career in a totally different industry, but it was a challenge I knew I could face.

“It’s important to remember all that you’ve achieved and to draw upon the experiences and skills that you have acquired, and think about how these could be applied to new roles and challenges.

“Write it down if it helps and talk it through with a trusted mentor to help you build a plan. You might surprise yourself and discover that you could take a completely new pathway that you hadn’t previously considered or recognise that any barriers you may have previously put up when thinking about your next move can be knocked down with a good helping of self-belief and a can-do approach.”