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An Interview With Our MD & CEO, Alison Orrells – #IWD22

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How Has The Safety Letterbox Company begun to tackle gender equality?  

I was the only female in our 36-year-old manufacturing business for many years, now I’m delighted to say 23 years later I am one of 12. That’s almost 20% of our workforce.  

We absolutely only employ people based on their capabilities, drive and passion and definitely not to make up the numbers -every applicant is treated as equal, regardless of gender or anything else. It’s the best person for the job – fact. 

 

Do you have any advice for women who are looking to grow their success?  

We need women to push through and to apply for roles – we can’t employ them if they are simply not there.  

I am still in a tiny minority of female CEO’s in the very male dominated environment of Manufacturing in the UK and within Europe. It’s not unique to manufacturing, throughout my career in retail I was also in a very small minority of female Senior managers in the UK.  

 

Is there a stereotype still there?  

Its crazy to think I am still assumed to be a stereotypical female note taker in some meetings, I have been asked so many times if the boss is in, I have sat as the only female amongst a large group of men so many times I’ve lost count. That’s a deep-rooted mindset that has to change and until it does the stereotype will always be there.  

 

What is your opinion on the future of workplace equality?  

I hope that the next generation are brought up in an environment which is just about equality – in fact better still it shouldn’t even be mentioned and talked about- it should just be the norm.  

Alison Orrells - Managing Director
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What does equal opportunities mean to you?  

I don’t want ‘special’ treatment for myself or other women – just equality and fairness. I’m determined, driven and hard working and I believe in doing the very best you can to push through to achieve goals regardless of gender but it’s perception and behaviour that is the issue. 

I also firmly believe in a gender equal world – but surely that should be just normal?  

 

Who are your female role models?  

 My role models are anyone who pushes through difficult times regardless of the seniority, role, sector with resilience, determination and passion. It’s those that make things happen rather than watch whether that’s for a cause, a job, their family or for themselves.

 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?  

International Women’s Day is a chance to recognise other women, to reiterate we have each other’s backs, to highlight and remind the world we all should just be treated as equal.

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