To mark International Women’s Day on March 8th, we’re giving a shout out to some amazing ladies across our organisation. In a business filled with inspirational women, it’s a tough job to narrow down the selection, but we’d like to introduce you to 5 ladies who are making waves in the organisation and excelling in their careers.
Each with their own story to tell, these women are demonstrating how much of an impact women can have on business, and the benefits of a balanced workplace. #BalanceforBetter
Head of Internal Audit, Compliance & Risk Assurance
Throughout her career in audit, Maxine encountered many women who inspired and encouraged her. Along with the support of her mother, there was one female manager along the way who had a huge impact on Maxine’s career trajectory:
“In my career I found great inspiration from my first audit manager. I found the audit world scary at first and I didn’t know if it was the right direction to take but I did it anyway. She took me under her wing, mentored me and she was patient.
I’m lucky to say we’re still friends today, many years later. We’re actually doing the same role now and I don’t believe I’d be here, doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for her, pushing me in the right direction from such a young age.
I now mentor other young auditors and watch them grow and I’m very passionate about that.”
IT Business Change Manager
Since beginning her career in the 1980s, Michelle has seen a huge shift for women in the workplace. As a woman working in IT, the types of roles and expectations within the department have widened and developed over the years, with new opportunities around every corner.
“When I first started there were hardly any women in IT. If you were in IT at that point you weren’t involved with making decisions or going out to speak with customers – you would take notes and action points but you wouldn’t participate.
This has changed phenomenally. Not only are women in higher positions, the roles have changed too. Women tended to be in HR roles, but now you find they’re in supply chain, the engineering world – and it can only get better.
In the future I’d like to see even more women in managerial positions, creating balance.”
Social Media Coordinator
Starting her Sofology journey in 2015 in customer services, Lauren has quickly progressed to her current role within the marketing team. At just 24, she can already identify the benefits of a balanced workplace and the positive influences of employing women in all aspects of a business.
“I think that women have a great role to play in a business, especially in a position like mine. Women have a sharp sense of style and I spend a lot of time looking at trends. As a furniture retailer we need to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Women are progressing into bigger and better roles within the organisation and there’s motivation from everyone in the business. I feel like we have inspiring role models that we can look up to – including our new CEO Sally – and this will make people want to progress within Sofology.”
Spending 20 years in buying roles, Suzy has been no stranger to gender stereotypes. Traditionally viewed as a ‘male role’, her experiences in past jobs have included regularly being mistaken for the assistant when travelling with male colleagues. Thankfully, she’s noted a change over the last few years.
“When I first started I was in a team of 2 females and 2 males, and the men were paid more even though we did the same job. That’s all changed now, it’s become much more of a level playing field, I’m delighted to say.
Sofology work differently to a lot of other retailers as we have quite a female led buying team and visual merchandising team. Women have an amazing eye for product, detail, design and actually women are the main decisions makers for our type of product.
It’s really exciting being part of this new era at Sofology. We have Sally Hopson as our new leader, which is amazing – she’s really inspirational and I’m excited to work with her.”
Bolton Store Manager
For over 8 years Laura has worked in retail roles for Sofology, developing and progressing into her current position where she now manages the largest team within her region. Along the way, Laura has learned the importance of balance in the workplace and how you can never underestimate the support of a good, strong team beneath you.
“Women bring diversity to the industry and diversity boosts results. I think female managers within the company find it easy to build a really positive environment – I think I’m a very optimistic leader.
It would be nice to see more women applying for management roles, having the confidence to go for those positions – and actually different kinds of roles. In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve never seen a female delivery driver. Is that because women don’t apply for that job? I know that there is a female technician that’s just joined the company, which is a first, and I’d like to see that more and more.”
And, introducing Sally Hopson
CEO of Sofology
Joining Sofology in October 2018, Sally Hopson became the first female leader in Sofology’s history, bringing with her a wealth of experience spanning over 30 years in the retail sector. Sally has seen a lot of change in the workplace during her working life so far, and she has big plans for the future.
“Women make most of the buying decisions in furniture. They’re obviously half of the population, but they’re much more than half of the decision makers when it comes to buying sofas for your home. So why wouldn’t you want a business that, at least, reflects that and is able therefore to help women make those choices?
Success, for me, is an organisation where everybody’s really passionate and committed to it and doing the best that they can and being the best that they can. Retail for me is about lots and lots of people who you give great opportunities to. There’s nothing better than watching people of all ages and all genders succeeding – and being proud, and their families being proud of what they’ve achieved.”
For Sally, leadership is about lifelong learning, something she did during her vital work as part of the Women and Work Commission from 2004 to 2009, achieving an MBE for her contribution to the commission.
Watch Sally’s interview in full and learn more about Sofology’s new CEO.Watch the full interview