In July this year the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Women and Men’s network evolved into the Gender Equality Network (GEN). As Chair of the women’s network, this was an important move for me to becoming a more inclusive network. We all know that women continue to face barriers in the work place and we will never get to the point of equality until we get men on board! So here I found my first challenge – combining two visions, two sets of people and making a unified group.
So what were we to do?
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to put everyone in a room to get to know one another and explore the priorities for the network. The session was a lively one; and if I am being honest I expected nothing less.
There were ideas and pre-booked events that crossed in to each others ‘territories’. It was up to me to make sure that we came to an agreement to showcase what was important to each of us, and find a shared link that intertwined the 2 visions. I was keen to express that I still wanted us to focus on barriers and cultural aspects that affected men and women separately, but give the other sex an understanding to help break down these barriers.
From then until now it has been a non-stop whirlwind as we’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time. This is a fantastic achievement especially as everyone involved in the network also have demanding day jobs. This demonstrates the passion my team have to deliver in the network.
We’ve hosted 3 speed mentoring events for DVLA’s fast track programme. This was a great opportunity and has been fully supported by senior management and Tony Ackroyd, DVLA’s Operations and Customer Services Director. These events gave staff the opportunity to ask questions to the heads of group, HR Learning and Development and Tony who all acted as mentors. The mentors were open and honest about their own experiences and we received excellent feedback from attendees.
We also hosted the first ever gender lensing session with recruitment managers from across the Department for Transport family. Working with Chwarae Teg, we looked at the wording and layout of our job adverts to make sure that we weren’t excluding applicants through gender bias. The session gave real insight and practical help and support to the recruitment SME on how we can improve our attraction into the DVLA.
Sharing my experience
For me personally, I’ve been honoured to have been asked to speak at 2 events for other networks in the Civil Service over the past month. I attended a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) event in Cardiff to talk about my journey as Network Lead and 2 weeks ago I was at the Welsh Audit office, sharing my experience, best practise and ambition for the future to help them with the set up of their women’s network.
What we’ve been up to
GEN has supported National Inclusion Week at the DVLA delivering reverse mentoring sessions with senior leaders. The session was an opportunity for staff to come and tell our leaders what they can do differently. This gave a real insight into the changes we can make for the better.
We held a cross government speed mentoring on the 13th and 14th October and are hosting the first ever International Man’s Day event on 18 November 2016 at TechHub Swansea.
My next challenge
On 18th November I will be standing down from the Gender Equality Network and handing over to my Vice Chair. I will be heading in a new direction, setting up a network lead group for Wales and West.
Gender equality is my passion and I want to make sure that there is equality in decision making outside of Whitehall. During my time as chair I’ve made a wealth of contacts that I’m now utilising to get our voice heard, and to stand with our Whitehall counterparts to create a fully inclusive Civil Service that starts to make some real changes for all.
My aim is to continue to be instrumental in setting direction and generating support from our most senior leaders, to create a supportive environment in which all genders can champion cultural change.
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