The Managing Director of Ibstock Brick gives us an insight into being normal.
“You’re not normal” or other comments that are even more controversial are the frequent retorts I receive when talking to people about what I do. I’m the Managing Director of the UK's biggest brick manufacturer alongside being a Non Executive Director of The Football Association but I’m very normal! The comment of not being normal means I’m not a male which would be the norm for the roles I undertake.
So why me? I’m no different to the next person I just maybe wasn’t as influenced when growing up in the 70s and 80s by societal norms quite as much. If someone would have asked my mum or dad whether I would be able to achieve something their answer would be “yes-SHEcan”. That answer wasn’t unique to me, the same answer would have been given for the same question of my sister. They never told me I couldn’t do anything because I was a girl except for being a professional footballer, and even that is possible now!
That underlying belief that we could achieve anything was always given to us explicitly but it was also underlying in our house. My parents were both nurses and in fact the same grade. That meant, save for working extra hours, they both earned the same money, completely equal pay. As they both worked they also both had responsibilities at home. It was as normal to us that my mum was at work earning the same as my dad as it was that my dad made our dinner. In our house everyone was equal.
One of my youngest memories as a child is the frustration of being asked numerous times, “is your dad not a Doctor” after explaining that both my parents were nurses. I remember getting really annoyed, why did they keep asking me the same question and also why weren’t they asking me if my mum was a Doctor? Little did I understand the stereotyping behind the questions.
So I think I’m really normal and my ambition of working with #YesSheCan is to show the next generation of leaders that it’s actually very normal to achieve as a female in any industry. There are some unbelievably inspiring women involved in this project and if we can influence just one individual in a positive way we will have succeeded.
Nothing that we do is aimed at promoting one gender above another it’s simply about ensuring that everyone has an equal chance. Over the coming years we may face some of the most challenging political, economic and social changes the country has ever seen. To ride those changes we need the best people the country has rising to the top in all professions regardless of whether they are male or female.