This year’s International Women’s Day has the theme of #EmbraceEquity, and Heras’s Head of HR UK, Laura Ibbotson, tells SJUK how the company – a leading end-to-end supplier of permanent and mobile perimeter protection solutions – continues to champion the role of women in its business and in the wider security industry.
The notion that “equal opportunities aren’t enough” is at the heart of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign on 8th March. The organisers want to drive the conversation around the gaping chasm between equality and equity – and emphasise how far there is still to travel until women have genuine equity in all aspects of life.
The IWD website says that “forging gender equity isn’t limited to women solely fighting the good fight. Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic, cultural, and political advancement of women.”
Heras is passionate about and proud of being an ally, and IWD is a great annual benchmarking opportunity for us to take stock of the progress the business has made – and also identify what more can be done.
As a business, we are committed to creating a work environment that empowers our employees, embraces their differences and encourages inclusivity. We are also committed to ensuring that we extend these same principles to our customers, our suppliers and the communities we serve.
This isn’t Heras just talking the talk this IWD – we will also be celebrating walking the walk, with a list of achievements that everyone within the business can be proud of.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the sectors in which we operate are still overwhelmingly male dominated – but the results in our most recent Gender Pay Gap Report highlight how the initiatives we have introduced and implemented are helping to make Heras a more diverse, inclusive and equitable place to work.
Did you know that more than a third of the Heads of Departments at Heras in the UK are female across both our permanent and mobile businesses? These roles include Head of HR and Head of Sales UK on the permanent side, and Operations Manager South and Transport Manager on the mobile side. What is particularly pleasing about this is the progress through the business into these roles by females.
And it doesn’t stop there, because our Female Mentor Scheme is proving to be a big success. The initial phase centred on supporting female employees making career changes such as being promoted to management positions. Ongoing coaching is provided to ensure their transition is smooth, and we give them the tools they need to excel in their new roles. These tools include: access to online training, funded training, a tailored development plan, opportunities to support educational partnerships and support from a forward-thinking HR department – which, we understand it, is not the industry norm.
It’s important to point out that the supportive culture we have fostered at Heras is all-encompassing, regardless of gender. We support employees through any life changes they may be experiencing, which is why we have sourced a specialist trauma counsellor, who has helped support some of our employees through traumatic or challenging life events, such as IVF treatment, bereavement and mental health issues.
But we don’t just take care of our own – our supportive and collaborative approach extends into both our local community and the industry.
We have partnered with a local academy, and part of our community outreach has involved delivering workshops to female students aged 14–16, on women working within the security industry and the progression routes available to females. We love these sessions because we get glowing feedback from females who didn’t even realise the potential of a career in the security industry.
At the other end of the industry spectrum, I’m very proud to be a regional representative of the Make UK board – a UK body that champions engineering and manufacturing – because it provides great networking opportunities, shares initiatives and promotes the work of females in our industry.
And there’s one last thing to mention: our work with Andy’s Man Club, a suicide prevention charity offering peer-to-peer support groups for men. Although it is aimed at males, it also offers support and advice for their family members to spot the tell-tale signs which may help to prevent suicides.
This IWD, the Heras team will be reflecting on the theme of #EmbraceEquity and what it actually means, evaluating where we are and looking at pathways to creating greater equity for women in our business, in our community and in our industry.
About Laura Ibbotson
Laura is a HR professional and a chartered fellow of the CIPD, with more than 20 years’ experience and a Masters in Human Resource Management. Her strengths include implementation of robust HR business plan aligned with organisational strategy and operations, across the broad spectrum of the HR function. Her specialisms include continuous improvement, talent management, ESG and wellbeing. She has a strong sense of duty and responsibility to ‘give back’ wherever she can and contribute in a positive way that makes a tangible and lasting difference.