Happy International Womens Day everyone

Happy International Women's Day everyone… and what a year it has been for our women at phs Group!

This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is #BreakTheBias. For us, #BreakTheBias is something we strive for all year around, but we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to celebrate all that is great about our women on International Women’s Day! It’s fair to say that bias is prevalent in most aspects of our lives, and it comes in many forms. Gender bias, however, is something that can disproportionately affect women’s success in the workplace.

We are pleased to be taking positive action to #BreakTheBias.

This year, we’ve made changes to the way we recruit, to attract and hire more women into our business – and as well as providing multi-level development programmes for all our colleagues we’ve launched tailored programmes to support our aspiring female leaders on their journey and to create more pathways into management and leadership roles within phs.

Listen to Farrah's story:

Today is not just about women. We all have a part to play in breaking down the barriers that women face and the men in our business play a huge part in supporting and championing their female colleagues. I’ve been involved in female focussed events in the past and it’s not unusual to be asked ‘what are you doing for male colleagues?’ It’s a great question and one that I always respond to with two answers.

  • Firstly, women have very specific, bespoke needs when it comes to progressing in their careers, the barriers, and challenges that they face are unique to them and therefore focus days like today are essential in raising awareness and celebrating success. This doesn’t take away from the fact that male colleagues have development needs and challenges too!
  • Secondly, we always ensure that there are development opportunities which are inclusive to all. We’ve delivered this through our external and in house development programmes and through our very successful Apprenticeship Programmes. We created a Work Based Learning lead role in 2019 to help us maximise our spend of the apprenticeship levy. Julie Harries is a real expert in her field and has matched 267 of our colleagues with relevant apprenticeships and work-based learning. The great news is that half are men – and half are women! We are pleased to say that 40 of our learners have already successfully graduated from programme – also with a 50/50 split

Our Programmes for Women

In December 2020 we partnered with a Welsh charity called Chwarae Teg (CT) to take advantage of their Agile Nation 2 programme. The programme provides women with the skills, confidence, and knowledge to progress their careers. To date 26 aspiring leaders have enrolled onto the programme and 14 have already completed the course. We didn’t stop there, we also created a mentor programme where we matched each of the Chwarae Teg participants with a senior female leader, who would guide them through their development journey. We regularly survey our learners to understand how their work-based learning is benefiting them in their career development.

For Chwarae Teg, 82% of our learners say they’re more confident since completing the programme and 100% would recommend the Chwarae Teg programme to others. It’s amazing to know that our partnership with CT is working and that the development is hitting the mark! We have seen some great success too, for example Kate.

Kate Lewis, Marketing Campaign Manager

“Since completing the Chwarae Teg programme, I’ve become more confident within myself and been able to identify what my strengths are and what areas I need to work on. As soon as these were identified, I started to make changes within my role to help with communication, problem solving, organisation and mentoring. Thanks to the programme, I have since been promoted to managing my own Marketing Executive.”

To top things off this IWD, we are excited to be launching our first Women in Leadership Programme for 10 of our high potential senior leaders. They shared with us some of their experiences of working in male dominated environments, how some carefully choose language and even their dress code to fit in and how sometimes they feel their credibility comes under question which can impact on confidence. We listened and we have acted. We have developed a programme in conjunction with our partner Dr Lucy Ryan from Mindspring, which will take our leaders through 6 months of development. It’s all about celebrating what’s good about our female leaders, building confidence and credibility as well as raising profiles and finding platforms to be heard. The programme, which we intend to repeat every year, is supported from the top with our Executive  team taking a keen interest in the nominations and programme design and outcomes. Its will be sponsored by myself (Head of Learning & Development) and Clare Hughes, our Commercial Director and an Exec Team Member

phs is part of an even bigger family, with parent company Bidvest Group, based in South Africa. As part of our launch, we also have as a guest speaker Gillian McMahon, Executive Director of Bidvest Group who will share her experiences of gender bias with the group, talk about diversity in South Africa and wish them well on their journey of development.

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