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International Women's Day - 8th March

#BreakTheBias

International Women's Day is a day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. At Leekes, we believe that it's important to offer a working environment where women's careers thrive and where past and future achievements are celebrated. Around 40% of senior management roles at Leekes are held by women and we are proud to offer flexible working for all of our team members.

To recognise International Women's Day, and to promote a world that is diverse, free of bias and stereotypes, and is both equitable and inclusive, we have asked female leaders within our team to take part in a questionnaire to discuss the importance of the day and share their thoughts on what it takes to be successful and to share what inspires them.

 


 

Name: Emma Leeke

Job role: Managing Director, Leekes Retail

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day? 

To recognise the contribution of women globally and to continue to raise the issue of gender equality.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?  If so, how did you overcome them?

There was an assumption from my previous employer that I would no longer be interested in career progression when I became a mother - I left!Emma Leeke

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

From my English teacher at age 11: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their careers?

Ensure we offer flexible working opportunities to help women manage their work/life balance and continue to develop and progress.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? Work hard, be flexible and keep learning.

Is there anyone that inspires you or has inspired you in your career?

My line manager at M&S who invested in me and pushed me every day - he has overcome his own hurdles and now runs the global business which has recognised his ability as an inspirational leader.


 

Name: Jo Littlejohn

Job role: Buying & Merchandising Director

JO LJ

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day? 

To keep the fact there is still gender inequality in the 21st Century at the forefront of people's minds and to celebrate the achievements of women across the world.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?  If so, how did you overcome them?

The worst comment I have come across is a throwaway "well what progression could a 50-year-old woman hope for?" Whilst not aimed at me I have heard numerous similar comments over the years, I think that the best way to overcome this is to continually demonstrate what you are capable of and change those perceptions.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.

How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their careers?

Allow a flexible working environment to ensure that women can continue to thrive through the different phases of their life.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? 

Have faith in yourself and stay focused on what you want to achieve.

Is there anyone that inspires you or has inspired you in your career?

My Buying Director at Top Shop, she had a clear vision for the business and managed to bring the whole team with her to achieve it. It thrived under her leadership.


 

Name: Lowri Adams

Job role: Group IT Development & Training ManagerLowri Adams

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day? 

To celebrate the success of women and continue educating against gender bias.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?  If so, how did you overcome them?

Women are facing barriers in all aspects of life, from the worry of walking home safely to gender stereotyping to being underestimated and overlooked in the workplace.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

Never underestimate yourself.

How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their careers?

Leekes are leading by example in promoting gender diversity in senior roles. We need to continue to encourage, motivate and build each other up!

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? 

Self-belief, if you don't believe you can succeed you won't get very far. And work hard!

Is there anyone that inspires you or has inspired you in your career?

My mum; a true #bosslady she worked her way to the top, taking on new challenges, owning every role,

always learning and always fighting stereotypes as one of the few women in a senior role.


 

Name: Samantha Marshall

Job role: Business Manager - Buying

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day? Sam Marshall

There is still an ongoing struggle for equality in and out of the workplace. Three-quarters of women across the UK are still paid less than men despite performing the same role.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?  If so, how did you overcome them?

Being part of a chauvinistic environment in a previous role where derogatory comments were deemed "just banter" gave me the impression that that was just how all work environments were. I ultimately left as I didn't want to be part of the toxic environment.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

Be kind and true to yourself.

How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their careers?

Flexibility is key. There is still a stigma that women can't be mothers and leaders which is just not true.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? 

The barriers are falling and you can make it to the top if you work hard, be kind and lift the other women around you.

Is there anyone that inspires you or has inspired you in your career?

Any working mother is an inspiration to me! We are lucky that there are women who are in senior positions in this business who can continue to have a successful career whilst being caring and dedicated mums.


 

Name: Rhian Griffiths

Job role: Head of eCommerce & Omni-Channel Marketing

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day? 

To inspire women to want more from their careers. As someone who has always been ambitious,  I think it's important to rhi gencourage women to develop and nurture their skills to help them achieve more regardless of gender.

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?  If so, how did you overcome them?

I have been really fortunate in my career to have worked for a business that has allowed me to grow as a person and progress to the career that I have today. I started working for Leekes at 16 and here I am 19 years later, still learning and still pushing myself.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

Nobody knows it all - It's important to recognise that no matter how long you've been doing a role, there will always be something new to learn and it's important to listen to other people's opinions.

How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their careers?

Creating an environment where women feel comfortable enough to present their ideas, speak openly, and be heard.

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? 

Work hard and be determined.

Is there anyone that inspires you or has inspired you in your career?

I was introduced to someone a few years ago through a mutual friend, we worked in similar industries at the time and we've kept in contact through social media since. Her entire aura radiated energy, fun, and confidence and she was completely unafraid to be herself.

That fearless mentality inspired me, boosted my confidence, and made me more ambitious to succeed.


 

Name: Charlotte Illsley

Job role: Business Manager Designate - Buying

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day? 

The women before us have ensured we have a voice for today so we must provide a platform for future women to have their voice.4a4dc37f-67bb-474d-a170-4698db18686d

Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?  If so, how did you overcome them?

Being a buyer in the garden category is a very male-dominated sector. On many occasions, it has been the presumption when we sit down for a meeting that I am an assistant or there to just make cups of tea! I take great pleasure in correcting.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

Don't worry about the opinions of people you wouldn't go to advice for.

How can we encourage more women to pursue senior leadership roles in their careers?

Support one another. If we, as women don't support and recognise one another ... how can we expect men too?

What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers? 

Go in the direction of your dreams and aspirations. With hard work and self-belief, you can achieve anything. Have that attitude and the world is your oyster. Change the plan... but never the destination.

Is there anyone that inspires you or has inspired you in your career?

My friends. Some of us have had children at a young age, some of us married, some of us single and working on a career  but no matter what direction we go in, we support and inspire each other every day to do the best we can with the end goal to just be happy.

 

Feeling inspired?

Why not view our current vacancies and see how you can create an impact within our team?

See vacancies >

 

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