Supporting our female customers and working with a female leadership team - guest blog by Vinny Roche


As part of our International Women’s Day celebrations we’ve chatted to Chief Executive, Vinny Roche about his thoughts on working with a female leadership team and how we support our female customers.

“For me it’s all about getting the best person for the job. Gender is never a consideration for me but I appreciate in some places, in working environments and in society it still is, which is why it’s important for us to support events like this to make sure things change.

“I have a fantastic team of female directors, who I work closely with every day. We all bring something different to the party, which provides us with a balanced viewpoint that’s helping us have a positive impact on the lives of our customers every day, which is what we’re all about.

“In my experience women get results but sometimes in a different way. Traditionally senior staff and directors have been expected to behave in a certain way and demonstrate a certain level of confidence which is often based on male stereotypes -  they have to be the boss and tell people how it is! Luckily this is perception is changing and people are seeing the benefits that both male and female leaders can have, providing a variety of viewpoints to create a truly inclusive decision making process.

“In the housing sector I believe women are well represented across all levels. I’ve met some inspiring women in leadership and on the front line. However, in the construction sector this isn’t the case and it’s something as a sector we need to work together to change.

“Building, development and construction hasn’t been the go to profession or trade for girls in school or women in general. We need to start early in schools, colleges and universities to educate people and change perceptions.

“Let’s get away from the ‘tradesman’ and men on building sites type images. The construction industry has changed and is changing. Many new homes are now modular builds, flat pack homes, which are put together on or off site and provides lots more opportunities for women.

“In relation to our customers, women are often at the heart of the families we provide homes and other support to. Sadly national research shows that the majority of single parents are female, something that is also reflected in Oldham.

“We see female single parents with large families on a daily basis struggling and they are faced with dilemmas like, do they spend their money on feeding their children, heating or lighting or school uniforms? It’s real pressure and stress for many of our female customers, who sadly live in poverty and that can have a huge negative affect on their lives and their lives of their families.

“Our Community Impact Team works closely with our customers to provide support. Our Bread and Butter Scheme offers affordable food, our Directions Team works with women to get them into work or training, and we refer people for heating and lighting grants and advice. We are also developing a furniture offer which will allow our customer and their families to live comfortably, but we must do more as an organisation and as a society to make a difference and support women, and men, who live in poverty.”