We embrace gender equality and diversity at IDS

Sara Jones, operations director (North), explains why diversity and equal opportunities are key to IDS, but acknowledges there are still some barriers to achieving gender equality in the KBB industry

Q: As a brand, where does IDS stand on gender equality/diversity? Does the business have a policy in place? 

A: As a business, IDS embraces gender equality and diversity. Yes, the business and its parent company Saint Gobain have an Equality and Diversity Policy in place and this topic is always a key agenda item at all senior management meetings. However, it’s not only about having these conversations around the top table, but putting them into action and IDS has demonstrated that we drive forward initiatives that promote our equality and diversity values across our business. We are proud to say that we now have two female main IDS board members and almost 30% of our workforce is female. 

Q: As an influential brand, what role do you think IDS has to play in championing gender equality in the KBB industry?

A: All influential brands should lead by example in championing gender equality. The need to remove stereotypes in advertising, recruitment and in the workplace. Remove unconscious bias through education and communicate clearly to promote an inclusive culture. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing is easy, you have to be committed to change and this requires a non-negotiable approach from the leaders of business.

Q: Why do you think there are so few women in top roles in the KBB industry?

A: The KBB sector is traditionally male-dominated and I think that sometimes women haven’t had the confidence in the past to put themselves forward for top roles. There isn’t a shortage of capable and competent women out there, so perhaps it’s that firstly women need to be confident in their abilities and, secondly, that companies need to think about removing barriers that shouldn’t exist in a workplace.

Q: How would the KBB industry benefit from having more women in top roles? 

A: Many recent UK Government publications show that companies who have women as part of their executive board and within their business, have better sales and outperform their rivals. So why wouldn’t you have more diversity in top roles? You are mirroring your customer base, which allows collaborative strategy to enhance your customers’ journey in doing business with you. That in itself creates a positive company profile.

Q: What do you think women at board level can bring to the industry? 

A: Women tend to be more collaborative in the way they work. We bring a different dynamic to the table. We listen, provide social support and broaden the perspective on any controversial issues. The more diverse the discussions among stakeholders, the better equipped they are for decision-making.

Women should be who they are and not who the world wants them to be. Your qualities and your determination will get you where you want to go

Q: As a woman, what do you believe you bring to IDS specifically? 

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A: As a female I bring a different perspective and a different mix of skills. Our customer base is gender-diverse, so to have a better reflection of our customer base allows us, together, to make solid strategy and better problem-solving solutions. Life experience is varied for male and female, so bringing that together and creating a better customer journey can only be a good thing.

Q: What advice would you give to any women starting out in business? 

A: My advice would be the same to anyone starting out in business. Be prepared to commit to what you want to achieve. Anything worth having, does not come easy. It takes dedication, a strong work ethic, as well as taking risks with opportunities. Always have an eye on what is next and tailor your learning, so when you are ready, you can take the next challenge on. 

Q: What advice would you give to women who are aiming for top positions in the industry?

A: I agree with Coco Chanel on this! Women should be who they are and not who the world wants them to be. Your qualities, your experience, your knowledge and your determination will get you where you want to go. I have been told in the past to be more aggressive in my management style. I’ve also been told to work on my Yorkshire accent as it may hinder me. I didn’t do either. Have confidence in you and your own abilities.

Q: As one of the few women in top roles in the industry, do you feel you have a part to play in encouraging women to aim for the top positions? 

A: Yes, of course. I hope that holding the position I do, proves that young females can get to the top. The one thing a leader should do is empower others and if I give confidence to just one female out there to go for it, then that makes me happy. We are living in times where we can have successful careers and have families if we choose to. 

Q: What do you think is the future of the KBB industry when it comes to diversity? 

A: I think there is still an unconscious bias holding back gender equality in a lot of workplaces, including the KBB industry, and we have to work together to eliminate that. Women make up 52% of the population and therefore employers are potentially missing out on 52% of the available talent pool. As with the protection of the environment, gender diversity is also at the top of millennials’ requirements for an employer and we have to get that right for the future of our businesses.

Listen to the International Women’s Day Special on The kbbreview Podcast on The kbbreview Podcast. Listen now using the player below or search ‘kbbreview’ in a podcast app.

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