Published September 8th, 2021
The Ocean Housing Group has successfully delivered a six month programme designed to support its female employees in finding their career ambitions and confidence.
The programme, named StrongHer, was developed by independent leadership coach, Nicola Skorko, in collaboration with Ocean’s group director of people and culture, Nikki Forward. It helped participants build leadership skills and created a supportive environment for them to set their own goals and values in the workplace.
15 women within the Ocean Housing Group took part, representing a variety of experience levels from head of services to administration roles, and new starters to long-serving staff.
Nikki Forward said: “Following commitments made in our Gender Pay Report, we are looking to provide opportunities to support the progression of women at every level here at Ocean. We have a good gender balance overall in the organisation, though the current structure sees fewer women in more senior roles.
“Due to the nature of the construction industry being more male-orientated, and often the demand of juggling work and family life, many of our women lack confidence in setting out what they want to achieve in their careers. I wanted to run StrongHer to give those women a voice, and provide them with the motivation to succeed.
“Everyone took part for their own reasons, and have been on a personal journey of self-discovery over the last few months. It has been great to bring people together from across the group, where they’ve all got to know people from different departments. It’s created a really supportive network.
“I am delighted with how the programme has gone. The feedback we have received from the participants has been really positive, and has fundamentally impacted the way they think about their work aspirations. We hope to run the programme again, and already have strong interest from more female colleagues.”
Beginning at the end of February 2021, the six month programme featured monthly group workshops, and one-to-one coaching calls for each participant at the start and finish of the programme. Workbooks were also provided for individuals to record their progress.
On reflection, participants have described the experience as empowering – being able to gain control of their work-life balance and putting themselves first to set their own personal values.
Contact centre experience manager, Hazel Leyshon, was one of the women who took part. She said: “As a result of the StrongHer course I realised that the thoughts and opinions of others are just that, their opinion, and not necessarily my own or the truth. I have no control over how others think or behave, I only have control over what I think and how I behave. I have learned to take a small step back and pause, before taking the step forward.”
For more information about the Ocean Group, visit ocean-group.co.uk.