Choosing to challenge

International Women’s Day on March 8 used the theme ‘choose to challenge’ to celebrate the achievements of women across the globe, while championing inclusivity.
Veka spoke to three women leaders on their roles and the inspiration they have taken throughout their careers.

Anda Gregory, managing director of the commercial group of the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), said: “I’ve never found it a problem to be a woman in our industry, or in fact any I’ve worked in. In some large meetings I am the only woman in the room, which is disappointing, and there is also a lack of diversity at times in other aspects.

“I feel like I am treated as an equal. In the GGF, three out of four of our senior leadership team are women, and out of the people that run the businesses I oversee, half are women, so we have a good balance. I’m a big believer in diversity resulting in diverse ways of thinking and doing things, which gives strength to the organisation.

“I draw inspiration from everyone around me – whether that’s work colleagues or others in the industry who are making a real difference, or my friends who are succeeding in whatever they do. I want talented women to hold more of the top jobs across the industry, as well as being at all levels and in all types of roles, whether that is with installers or manufacturers.

“It is a great industry and one that women should want to be part of and excel in. And as I said, all companies benefit from diversity, so it’s a solution where everyone benefits.”

Cecilia Phillips, managing director of Phillips Business Solutions, said: “I personally don’t see gender in the workplace; being a woman isn’t an asset or a drawback. I love how society has been drawn into an era of non-discrimination, very different from my own experience back in the early 1980s working in a male-dominated industry. There are equal opportunities in my industry sector, it is up the individual to fulfil their potential. A lot of excellent work has been done by women in the past to get us to this point.”

Dawn Stockell, marketing director of Veka, said: “Typically manufacturing, and indeed the construction sector, is male dominated, albeit the marketing function does tend to be more gender neutral even in this sector. I rarely find my gender to be an issue and I’ve been fortunate to have worked for companies that both support and strive for gender diversity and indeed diversity.

Having worked with Northern Power Women for a couple of years now and being exposed to the struggles of others, I find myself both fortunate yet increasingly aware of toxic behaviours, whether it’s an inappropriate comment at an industry event or an eye-roll when discussing matters of diversity but even this is a rarity. That said, I see every negative I encounter as an opportunity for positive change, and this is how I choose to challenge.

“Boards need greater diversity as they look to future-proof their long-term strategies. Both social (gender, ethnicity, age, etc) and background diversity will result in a broader perspective around the board table, and these perspectives are invaluable when it comes to developing long-term strategy. Looking at inspirational business leaders, both male and female across the globe from James Dyson to Wolfe Herd, what I admire is their ability to develop products and services for tomorrow’s people and they don’t do it alone; they have diverse teams to support and propel the business to continuous improvement.

“But mostly, I’m inspired by the people around me; from a mum that always said I could be whatever I wanted to be, to a strong network I’ve developed over the years working (and having worked) with some great people.”

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.

Veka has always been committed to ensuring that all women who work for the company have the same opportunities as men and is celebrating the positive difference women in the industry have and continue to make ensuring that gender equality becomes the norm.