IWD 2023: Embracing equity with Head of Customer Experience Linda Burrows
To mark the day, we caught up with Linda Burrows, Head of Customer Experience, to discusses this year’s International Women’s Day theme of equity, which is a concept that is critical to ensuring that all individuals have equal access to opportunities and resources.
It’s important to begin with ‘what is the difference between equality and equity’ because they are not the same. While equality refers to treating everyone the same, equity recognizes that not everyone starts from the same place and requires different levels of support to reach their potential.
Equity requires addressing systemic barriers that prevent certain groups, such as women, from reaching their full potential. It involves ensuring that everyone has equal access to opportunities and resources, and that their differences are taken into account.
My team is made up of over 80% women. It’s one of the most female dominated teams within the business, but the roles and opportunities within the team are open to all which is why it is important that the business treats its workforce with fairness and respect.
The team is embracing equity through several support mechanisms on offer for staff including agile working. Parents can complete their working hours around the school run and can benefit from flexible lunch breaks that suit them. All staff are home-based which adds to that flexibility, however, if a member of staff wishes to work in an office environment, then we can support them.
Regular welfare calls and meetings keep staff feeling including throughout the day and they are less likely to feel secluded from the rest of the team. We also conduct regular 1-2-1 sessions with individuals so we can better understand what they need from us to succeed at Liberty.
When I left school, I went to work in retail as a part-time store assistant for Disney. This flexibility suited me for my childcare needs.
In the 80s it was still quite common for women to stay at home or work part-time. My manager at the time, called Terry, suggested that I could progress further and have a fulfilling career ahead of me if I pushed myself further. I wasted no time and a short while later I was promoted to store manager.
I eventually moved to the North West and switched from retail into the world of customer services with Homeserve as a complaints call handler. I wanted to see if I could do it in a “man’s world” – as I was surrounded by a lot of male colleagues – and progress up the career ladder with a good support network around me and coaching to help me understand operational roles and responsibilities including the basics of how a boiler works and some of the technical issues. Within a year I was promoted to manager.
Equity in the workplace allows everyone to succeed and leaves no person behind. Progress is being made in the property services industry to allow women to feel welcomed and confident they can thrive in our line of work. I’m pleased to say our business is embracing equity with open arms.