At Riverside, we believe it’s important that our colleagues reflect the communities we work in and that everyone has equal opportunities to succeed within their career.
Workforces in the trade and operational industries have historically been male dominated. For International Women’s Day, we’re sharing experiences of female colleagues working in operational management and leadership roles which have traditionally been filled by males.
We’ve caught up with our Partnership Director Claire Allcock who is responsible for the Riverside Direct Contractor providing repairs, maintenance and servicing Riverside’s homes in South and Central region.
We hope Claire’s insight encourages you to consider career opportunities you could excel in, no matter your gender.
How did you get into working in this field?
I am a qualified accountant where most of my career has been, and I started my career in Riverside four years ago as a finance transformation consultant then took a permanent role as Finance Business Partner for Asset Services. Here, I was part of the mobilisation team supporting the Riverside Direct contract. I have previous operational leadership experience, so when the opportunity came up to take on the operational lead with Riverside Direct, I jumped at the chance!
Would you encourage other women to work in housing, operational and construction roles?
Yes! Working in housing is a completely different culture to what I was used to in manufacturing, you feel more self-worth and pride knowing even the small task you’re working on is supporting someone in need. The are some great opportunities to support your local communities as well, which I find brings a sense of inclusion and achievement.
Do you feel Riverside is a good place to work for women?
Riverside is a wonderful place to work for women. Riverside’s main value is ‘We Care’ and they really do care about their customers and colleagues. Riverside offers excellent benefits with a flexible working approach to support their employees’ needs.
Do you feel you are surrounded by inspirational female leaders at Riverside?
There are, and were, some fantastic female leaders in Riverside. I was truly inspired by Karen Lewis, Asset Services Business Manager, who unfortunately recently passed away. I was in awe of how she could captivate an audience, how confident she was in any situation. She oozed positivity and you couldn’t help feel inspired when you were near her. She was one of the reasons I went for this operational role, she gave me the confidence to make the change and challenge myself.
Have you ever faced any challenges in the workplace while in a “traditionally male role” because of your gender?
In the past, yes – especially in my manufacturing role, I was the only female leader out of eight managers, an all-male sales team and shop floor operatives. Only other women were in back office admin roles. I had found it hard to break down the barriers and would often feel left out because I wasn’t part of the “in” crowd and inside, often sexist, jokes. It took a long time to build relationships with the team to build my confidence enough to challenge their behaviour.
Do you think it’s important that gender stereotypes are broken when it comes to career roles?
Absolutely, it’s so important our workforce reflects diversity and inclusion, recruiting and retaining women in operational roles helps break down the barriers.