What International Women’s Day means to Exemplar Health Care

7 March 2022

Photo collage of female colleagues at Exemplar Health Care

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s important to look at the amazing work that women are doing in the social care sector.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias.

Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead and achieve equality.

There are so many incredible women working across adult social care, as well as colleagues of all genders who act as allies in working towards gender equality. 

This International Women’s Day, we want to say thank you to the incredible women who work with Exemplar Health Care and in the wider care sector.

In this blog, read what International Women’s Day means to us and hear from Lauren Brooke, Core Learning and LMS Manager and Chair of our ‘A Proud Place’ Colleague Group, on how she overcomes some of the challenges she faces as a woman in the workplace.

Through our equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging ambitions at Exemplar Health Care, we aim to provide a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone can maximise their full potential.

We believe that bringing together a diverse range of people helps us to deliver the best care possible. 

Women represent a range of roles at all levels at Exemplar Health Care, including our care, nursing, management, construction, marketing, finance and HR roles.

People who identify as a female make up 83% of our workforce, which is similar to the average across the adult social care workforce (Skills for Care, 2021).

Whilst it’s brilliant to celebrate our incredible female colleagues on International Women’s Day, it’s also an opportunity to look at what still needs to be done.

We are more committed than ever to keep pushing on for gender equality both at work and in our homes.

Whilst society has made progress with gender equality, there are still challenges with the gender pay gap.  

The clearest finding from 2020 data is that women are overwhelmingly likely to work for an employer where, overall, men are paid more and that the main explanation for the gap is the presence of more senior men than women.

I overcome these challenges by creating space for myself and other women at work - I’ll advocate for myself and ask for what I feel I need.

I overcome other challenges in wider society, such as micro-aggressions, by re-educating people who display toxic behaviours such as interrupting women, asking for proof of qualification if you wouldn’t for a male counterpart and gender is viewed as a binary.

At Exemplar Health Care, I chair a Colleague Group to create an open forum for people to discuss any issues and barriers, and explore how we can overcome them together.

Women in leadership and management positions

As the world of work diversifies, it’s important to me that our senior teams reflect this diversity and that organisations champion succession planning, training and development pathways for all colleagues to succeed in securing more senior positions.

At Exemplar Health Care, our Board is a 60/40 split of men and women. This is really important because it means that our highest level of governance has a strong voice from women.

As well as that, 82% of our Managers identify as women – which is incredible when compared to the 29% of women who are in leadership roles in FTSE 350.

However, it isn’t just about senior positions. Equality and access mean removing any barriers that women face to work.

At Exemplar Health Care, we offer a range of training and apprenticeship programmes, and offer mentoring and coaching, to encourage colleagues to develop and progress in their careers.

One of our most popular apprenticeships is the Nursing Associate programme.

It gives colleagues the opportunity to train and progress in their career, whilst still working and earning a wage. This is particularly useful for women who traditionally have other responsibilities, such as supporting a family or caring for a loved one, which can mean that they’re unable to go to University. 

Gemma Walker is a recent Nursing Associate Graduate and she shares: “When I heard that Exemplar Health Care were offering an opportunity to boost my skills in care, I jumped at the chance.

“I’ve got a mortgage and a family to support. I’d never be able to train as a qualified Nurse by taking three years out of work to be at uni. So training as a Nursing Associate while staying in my role means I can learn and earn – which is key for me.”

Strong female role models

Having a role model is also really important, especially in the workplace.

I’ve had some wonderful leaders and managers who have motivated me to stretch myself, and who taught, coached, advised and allowed me the space to make mistakes.

Having a safe environment where I've felt able to learn and lean on my mentors and role models has helped me become the leader and manager I am today – thank you!

My biggest learning has been around emotional intelligence and the power of stopping and thinking, and how this, coupled with controlling impulses, has a much more positive impact on your day, your leadership style and your ability!

Work-life balance

In every country around the world, women (even full-time working women) spend more time on average on household responsibilities by men. And as a result, are often less satisfied with their work-life balance.

I’m a huge advocate for healthy work-life balance - I’ve learned this the hard way!

Nowadays I balance my career and personal life by listening to my body, checking in with myself both physically and mentally and ensuring I take appropriate time for myself.

Often, not having a healthy balance leads to burnout and stress (one of the world’s biggest killers) and prolonged feelings of this nature can decrease productivity, motivation and engagement.

I have designated space for work, where I feel able to shut the door after a busy day and decompress. I keep healthy habits, such as meditation, wellness Wednesdays and regular exercise. I also try to take regular breaks at work, whether that’s making a cup of tea or walking around the garden for five minutes.

I encourage wellness amongst my team too. I ensure that they don’t work too late or over their hours. We share successes and celebrate them, but also make time for any worries the team may have which allows them to be happy, healthy and ‘here’.

Advice to my 21 year old self

What advice would I give to my 21 year old self – you can’t be all things to all people! The phrase ‘if you want a job doing, then do it yourself’ is egotistical and often not true. Take time to reflect and be proud of yourself. You’ve got this!

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