Housing sector urged to support women in the workplace
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
A leading businesswoman called for employers to offer more support and opportunities for women in the workplace at a seminar last week.
Geeta Nanda OBE, chief executive of Thames Valley Housing Association and vice chair of Scope, talked about how she combined raising a family with her working life, and gave delegates her own tips for success.
Long hours culture, the difficulties of juggling family and work life and “guilt” experienced by working mothers were hot topics for discussion at the event, held by Women in Social Housing’s South West Branch at Blake Lapthorn’s Southampton offices.
Ms Nanda said support from senior figures was crucial in changing the culture of the workplace – and also emphasised the importance of women having confidence to achieve their goals.
Awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours this year for services to social housing, Ms Nanda said: “One of the critical factors for women being successful in the workplace is the encouragement and opportunities they receive from those more senior in the organisation and outside.
“We all need to ask ourselves how we can be that person, how we can give that to others and how we create that culture."
On the panel for the event was Mary Chant, corporate and commercial solicitor partner at Blake Lapthorn, who has particular expertise in the health and care sector, Karen Vigar, strategy and development director at Miller Construction. Ms Vigar trained as an apprentice in the construction industry at the age of 17 and is now a director of a division with a turnover of around £650 million.
WISH South West was formed in October 2011 and brings together women who work in the social housing sector, from housing association professionals to developers, solicitors and accountants.
Sarah Pearson, senior solicitor in Blake Lapthorn’s social housing group, who chaired the event, said: “Geeta was an excellent speaker. She talked a lot about her experiences going up the career ladder and how she achieved her aspirations.
“During the session we also talked about how you should cut yourself some slack, be positive, have confidence and take all the opportunities in front of you."
Pictured left to right: Mary Chant, Karen Vigar and Geeta Nanda OBE.