March 23, 2022
In recognition of International Women’s Day, Lucy Campbell, CEO at Right at Home UK, shares how the organisation has successfully created opportunities for women to reach senior roles, details the importance of attracting more men to work in care, and explains why men must have a greater awareness of women’s needs.
At Right at Home UK, 100% of our registered managers are female and, of caregivers, just 8% are male. Within the senior leadership franchise roles, 28% are female. What we, like so many other organisations, are trying to achieve is to ensure female staff feel confident to go for more senior positions. To help our employees achieve this, we offer a leadership programme to support them. We are currently running an external programme to offer a bespoke programme to registered managers to support them and maximise their potential by clearly setting out career pathways. The conversations happen early on – it’s very much about recognising potential, upskilling and rewarding commitment.
Importance of attitude
I’ve been at Right at Home for seven years and was made CEO earlier this year. From my point of view, I feel very fortunate because the founder of the organisation, Ken Deary, is very forward thinking and is 100% behind career progression for women. I came in as the Business Support Manager and rose through the ranks. Just that speaks volumes about the organisation’s commitment to invest in its managers.
In my opinion, the reason why women achieve fewer senior positions in the workplace is because we need male leaders to be more empathetic and understanding – supporting women to have a seat at the table. It’s about having the awareness that women might not have the confidence in the same way that men do to put themselves forward. However, this isn’t the case for me personally.
For men to have that awareness, it often requires a different conversation with a female to ‘unleash their self-confidence’. Another area that we talk about is the imposter syndrome, which seems to be so much more characteristic in females than men. There is a whole piece to be done around self-confidence and to undergo appropriate training.
Peer support is so important – our leaders have access to a network of around 60 people per peer group. We work in a challenging sector, don’t we? It can be quite isolating – so I think it’s important for people to connect with others who have been in a similar situation and to help them build that necessary mental resilience to be successful in any senior leadership role.
One lady who is really doing it for the sector is Jane Townson – she epitomises what leadership looks like.
Investing in people and having the awareness is key – we are all striving for 100% equality and we aren’t there yet. Social care decision makers must have those conversations and find out how they can best support their staff.
A balancing act
The other important area where there is still work to be done is that, if you have a woman working full time and man working full time, it’s really hard to balance the traditional women’s duties. Again, like many women, this isn’t the case for me personally. However, it is still a problem that needs addressing. I’ve heard this referred to as ‘the female’s mental load’. A woman working in a full-time role and having to do more of the household tasks will make it harder for her to progress positively. Let’s be honest – if you want to be successful, you’ve got to put the hours in and go above and beyond.
If you’ve got the more traditional women’s work to do at home, you are going to be disadvantaged. That shift still hasn’t happened and, in my opinion, it’s a barrier for women to move up the ranks. Men need to have the awareness to offer the flexibility – to support someone who is really talented with potential to go as far as they can. It is a fact that women, generally speaking, are juggling the domestic tasks as well.
Encouraging men into the sector
We are delighted to have five men working in a team of 26 (working in the national office team). Up until recently, it was 90% female. It’s really nice to have that balance. It was interesting because I was talking to one of our male business colleagues – who has come from the construction industry – and he said the atmosphere in his new care role is so different and is much more collaborative. He said that in his previous role he felt like everyone was up against each other.
Undoubtedly, we know there is still the gender pay gap across many sectors, which needs to be consistently addressed.
My call to action would be for women to ‘reach for the stars’ and to have the inner confidence to make their ambitions a reality. Secondly, I would urge men to put aside any preconceptions of what a career in care looks like – for those men who have entered a career in care, they have reaped benefits and job satisfaction.