Championing female leadership

Caroline Roberts, Kelly Howell, Ruth Yates and Sarah Chapman explain how new care provider, Aria Care, is championing female leadership

According to the World Health Organisation, women account for 70% of the global health and social care workforce but the picture is not mirrored at the leadership level, with only 25% female representation in senior positions. The reasons are multi-faceted, but this unfortunately leads to a loss of talent which is damaging for the industry.

As four women in the senior leadership team at Aria Care, a new 50-home care provider, we wanted to share our lessons for creating a working environment that is conducive to empowering women to progress in their careers.

Cultural transformation

When Aria Care was formed in December 2022, Caroline Roberts, with over 35 years’ experience working in the sector, was appointed chief executive. Caroline has a vision for Aria Care to be the best provider of care in the UK, and a central part of this has been putting equal opportunity front and centre to ensure all 2,700 colleagues are treated fairly, equally and with respect.

Female leadership can have a transformative impact on organisational culture, which is often conducive to improved outcomes for women, such as increased visibility and a better work-life balance. Beyond improving pay rates, enhancing benefits and annual leave, and becoming a living wage employer, Caroline has fostered a culture of enablement which has created a feeling of trust where all colleagues feel empowered and listened to. Caroline has also taken a hands-on approach, and her engagement within our communities has made her a strong female role model, which has been inspiring at all levels.

Upward mobility for women

Visible upward mobility is crucial to achieving gender equality and a key part in ensuring colleagues remain engaged and happy in their roles. Kelly Howell, our chief people officer, Ruth Yates, our managing director of operations, and Sarah Chapman, our director of sales and marketing, have all been promoted internally to their current positions as part of Aria Care’s executive team.

Our people driven agenda has been extremely positive for achieving complete gender parity within our senior leadership team, which has 50% female representation, and has ensured we are constantly creating career pathways and development opportunities that give all of our colleagues the chance to progress.

Giving everyone a voice

Gender equality can only be achieved within an organisation that is truly representative of the views of all members and this is why we brought colleagues at all levels together at our annual conference to ensure our new vision was reflective of their own values.

We value the need for organisations to be inclusive and we are extremely proud our gender pay gap is currently 2.3% across the organisation, significantly below the ONS report in 2022 that put the UK average gender pay gap at 8.3% (median).

We continue our drive to eradicate gender inequality by living our values each day and applying these to our decision making. Additionally, collaborating with other effective women in the sector enables us to work together to not only recognise and reward female talent but to create a more balanced representation in the industry.

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