International Women’s Day
We’re proud that women account for 50% of executive and non-executive roles on our Board of Directors, including our CEO and Chair. We have good representation of females in senior leadership roles across the trust, including our finance function, where 50% of the most senior staff are female – compared to 36% nationally.
Emma Lunny is NCH&C’s Deputy Director of Finance. We spoke to Emma about her experience of progressing to a senior leadership role in the NHS:
Have you seen gender representation at senior levels change much since you started working in the NHS?
I’ve been in the NHS for 13 years and have seen gender representation progress and move in a positive way over recent years. It is really interesting to see that representation varies in different areas of the NHS but, overall, around 77% of our workforce is women. Within Community Services we are really well represented by female senior leaders, although generally speaking this is less prevalent in support services and, across the system, particularly in the finance community (we don’t currently have a female Director of Finance in our Norfolk and Waveney region, for example).
I’m really pleased to see the positive moves taken at a regional level in response to this, with a finance female leader network established in 2020, which was established to promote and get closer to a gender balance for financial leadership in our region.
We talk a lot more openly about flexible working than we did 10 years ago. Flex NHS started in 2018 (@FlexNHS on Twitter and Instagram) and was launched to champion flexible working for all staff and debunk some of the myths as well as equipping managers with the tools to support and enable flexible working. The NHS people plan now has a commitment that the NHS will offer flexible working from the first day of employment (previously after a six-month probation).
How does the trust support women within the organisation – and those seeking leadership roles specifically?
I think NCH&C leads by example. We have a gender balanced Executive Team, who are really transparent in how they live our values. I see our trust as caring and compassionate not only about the community that we serve, but we also take great care and pride in looking after our staff, treating everyone as individuals. We each have unique circumstances and NCH&C offers a variety of ways we can individually reach out to people, whether it be our own line managers, leaders of our directorates, champions or HR business partners; we are well supported with a variety of options, backed up by a wealth of policies such as flexible working and talent management.
I’ve seen the benefits of flexible working both personally and for members of my team – and this is not just for mums as is often considered! It is often said that if you approve a flexible working pattern to one team member it will open the floodgates for everyone. Actually this myth is not true and in reality if you don’t open the floodgates, your staff will simply drown.
What advice would you give to women starting their career in the NHS who aspire to work in leaderships roles?
1. I would say don’t be afraid! Be curious and make contact with people who are already in a role you might aspire to be in. Just because someone is already a senior leader, doesn’t mean they are unapproachable, they will more than likely be really happy to hear that you are interested to progress and would be keen to have a discussion with you.
2. Don’t let the wording of an advert put you off – especially if you are interested in working flexibly.
3. Put yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time – this is often the best way to develop and learn. Don’t be afraid of getting things wrong, it’s the learning that is invaluable and getting it right next time that is the best lesson to learn.