It is also a chance to take stock of where we are as a society when it comes to equality and think about what more each of us can do to bring about change.

Achieving equality for women isn’t just the responsibility of women, or celebrities, or those people in power. One group can’t be held accountable. It is the responsibility of all of us.

#EachforEqual

The theme of International Women’s Day 2020 is #EachforEqual.

We must recognise the impact that our individual actions can have on the world around us.

Whatever your role, in business or society, you can make a difference.

People must be free and empowered to challenge behaviour at every level of a business and every corner of a community.

If we all fight for equality, however we can, then the changes we need will come at a faster pace.

Equality and inclusivity have become my watchwords since taking over at ForViva.

I know what it feels like to have to push harder and challenge stigma to progress. I have rallied against bias and sexism throughout my own career in male dominated industries.

However, equality goes beyond gender.

Equality is about ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives.

Life chances shouldn’t depend on where someone was born, what they believe, whether they have a disability or any other factor.

Successful diversity is about the culture of acceptance, respecting one another’s differences and teamwork. That is what we try to inspire across the ForViva Group.

Ending discrimination

My aim is that nobody, in the workplace or in society, should have to face discrimination. I take the responsibility of ensuring ForViva is inclusive, diverse and supportive of everybody very seriously.

We’ve made good progress, but I want to do more.
I want to create a better balance within ForViva, leading the way for lasting change on gender equality.

In too many organisations this can become a “box ticking” exercise. For us it is not.

If we’re serious about lasting change then we have to rethink the kind of data we collect. In business it is often the case that if it doesn’t get counted, then it doesn’t count.

We must measure and track our progress on equality and diversity in the same way track other key metrics.

Making changes

One of the first things I introduced was a new mission, putting equality at the heart of the ForViva Group. The new mission is “to challenge inequalities and make a difference to people’s lives.”

To help us achieve this we’ve developed our recruitment practices, removed the dress code policy and introduced a work life balance policy.

Our leadership schemes are aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership roles, and our training now includes overcoming biases.

We have nominated ambassadors and role models to demonstrate various careers and opportunities available in the group. We also have ‘change champions’ who are part of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) group.

I was so proud to launch THRIVE, which is a new employee development journey open to everyone across the group regardless of role, education, gender or any other factor.

THRIVE stands for Talent, Hope, Relationships, Imagination, Values and Energy. Its main aim is to create a diverse and inclusive path to unlocking talent.

An equal future

Looking forward, we are especially keen to promote trades as a career option open to everyone.

Across ForViva, the split of our staff is 52% male and 48% female. Yet in the property services side of the group, only two per cent of operatives are female.

This isn’t exclusive to us, it’s a challenge across the industry, and I want to continue working to reduce this gap.

We’ll continue to look at the way we recruit staff, making sure our advertising is open to more people.

Our open days will continue aiming to improve apprenticeship recruitment and address female underrepresentation.

We’ll always foster a culture where people feel comfortable to speak out and challenge unacceptable behaviour, which includes the differences in language when describing women in the workplace.

I’m determined that ForViva will remain trailblazers in addressing inequality, with everyone working towards being #EachforEqual.

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