Each year since 1911, International Women's Day has celebrated the collective achievements of women whilst advocating for gender parity. We speak to Operations Director, Nicole Slowey, about her role at Qdos, and women in the workplace.
What is it that you do and how did you get to where you are today?
I am the Operations Director at Qdos, responsible for sales and service delivery across all business streams from direct contractors through to commercial partnerships.
I started life in the working world on an undergraduate programme in corporate banking, right at the time of the financial crash in 2008. It was the perfect fit for me as someone who was eager to work and learn at the same time, and the experience I gained in the world of banking was invaluable.
I then made the move into industry when a client presented me with the opportunity to be an account manager for their new start-up finance company, and from there I worked my way through the ranks of our group of businesses across brands in finance, media, and eventually insurance.
Having experience of our business in project management, marketing, and eventually in operational roles has given me a unique understanding of how we do business and I would say I have found my niche in my current role.
What would you say are the main challenges faced by women in business?
Stereotyping. As sad as it is, in 2019 there is still the assumption that women will take career breaks to have kids and/or that as a result of having kids, are not interested in furthering their career. This can often lead to women of a certain age or women with children being overlooked.
Women are also less represented. Even though progress has been made over the last few years, women are still largely unrepresented at board level across UK Plc and this culture filters from top to bottom in many organisations. Women in leadership roles more often create an environment which supports career growth for other women.
And finally, equal pay. In too many organisations in the UK, the gender pay gap is still too large. People carrying out the same role in the same business with the same experiences should be paid the same, irrespective of gender.
More and more women are choosing self-employment*. Working in this industry, what do you think are the main drivers behind this shift?
The UK as a whole is embracing a much more flexible approach to working with many women (and men) embracing a better work-life balance by going self-employed. This option is especially favourable with women who want to meet both career aspirations and family commitments, and in society today quite rightly why shouldn't you have both?
People also more readily recognise their value more than ever before. And where employers still have archaic cultures around employee engagement, equal remuneration, and staff development, this drives people to consider more lucrative opportunities.
Exponential developments in social media and communication technology have a massive part to play in this the rise as well. Effective use of technology means that you can be anywhere in the world at any time of the day speaking to clients, undertaking work for clients and even finding business with new clients, meaning that women can stay home with their kids whilst still building a career, or can simply be their own boss, working as and when they choose.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is all about gender-balance. How do you feel gender-balance benefits the workplace?
The population of the world is roughly 50/50 women to men, so at a very basic level why should a workplace not accurately represent the demographic of the society it lives in and serves.
Gender balance is vital to the success of any business as men and women bring different dynamics to teams, as well as differing skill sets and knowledge. We can achieve a wider set of perspectives with a balanced team, which is ultimately more engaged as they are fairly represented.
With 50% of Qdos employees being female, what do you believe to be the main factors which have contributed to Qdos achieving this gender-balance in its staff?
Our CEO, Seb Maley, is an advocate for women in business initiatives and made it a top priority for the company. Board buy-in and focus is essential to any company's success on gender-balance and we have had the full support of ours.
Women are represented at every level in our business from entry level positions through to women in the Senior Management Team and female Directors like me. Practicing what we preach by delivering fair and equal opportunities is what has led to our success.
*2018 Labour Force Survey
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