Sussex Police and Surrey Police are leading the way as employers of women, according to The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2020 list, published today (July 30).
The Times’ list is the UK’s most highly profiled and well established selection of organisations at the forefront of tackling gender inequality in the workplace and society and celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Sussex and Surrey police forces have been jointly presented with the award in recognition of their commitment to achieving gender equality within their workforce and the communities they serve.
Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Jo Shiner said: “I am delighted that Sussex and Surrey, working in collaboration, have been recognised in this year’s Times Top 50 Employers for Women.
“This award is recognition of the progress made through hard work by individuals at every level in our organisations to create a more inclusive workplace and improve the gender balance of the workforces across all ranks. By better reflecting the communities we serve, we can understand and serve them better.
“Tackling gender inequality is a policing issue, because to combat domestic and sexual abuse, where the victims are predominately female, as well as a significant element of serious crime and violence, we need to tackle the gender inequality that underpins it in society.
“Former Chief Constable Giles York and Superintendent Miles Ockwell, from Sussex Police, are recognised for pioneering the UN HeForShe movement in policing. In 2017, Sussex Police and Surrey Police became the first police forces worldwide to collaborate with the United Nations on their gender equality movement, HeForShe, committing to making deep seated changes within both policing and communities, and to improving the gender balance at senior levels throughout the UK.
“Within two years we had engaged with all the police forces in the UK to make the same commitments, bringing all 45 together for the first UK Policing Gender Equality Summit, in November 2019, to share best practice and the progress they had made.”
“We still have some way to go to achieving our goal of gender parity but this recognition reflects the strength of our commitment and progress.”
The Times Top 50 Employers for Women List is selected by gender equality experts at Business in the Community, part of the Prince’s Responsible Business Network.
Organisations are assessed across a wide range of areas including transparency around pay practices, parent and carer-friendly policies, action on bullying and harassment, and promoting gender equality outside of their organisation. The list is unranked.
Progress recognised in Sussex and Surrey includes:
- A seven per cent increase in the number of women in senior leader roles in the last two years, through identifying and addressing factors deterring women from seeking promotion. Now 34 per cent of senior leaders across the two forces are women.
- Practical measures, such as flexible working and support for those experiencing maternity, parenthood, menopause or carer responsibilities have helped women employees through challenges so they can stay in their roles and continue to progress to more senior ranks. In response to a survey that found a high number of women respondents stated they lacked personal confidence to apply for promotion, all eligible women candidates for a promotion opportunity are now communicated to by the Gender Equality Champion encouraging them to be confident in their abilities. Line managers are also asked to offer similar encouragement. This has resulted in an increase in applications from women.
- The work of the Sussex Police gender equality network ‘Evolve’ which runs an extensive number of work streams dealing with issues ranging from attracting women into specialist departments, encouraging women to consider applying for promotion and instilling confidence in members. The network, open to men and women across the force, continues to address areas to promote gender equality across the organisation.
- Amongst other measures to boost confidence, a mentoring and coaching programme and workshops aimed at women and underrepresented groups that focus on self-confidence and self-belief, empowering attendees to break modesty norms and glass ceilings.
- A new look recruitment campaign promoting strong female role models and more diverse options of joining, such as the Detective Direct Entry Scheme, has seen an increase in the number of women joining both Sussex Police and Surrey Police.
- To challenge attitudes and gender bias in workplace culture, HeForShe workshops to engage male officers and staff in open discussion about gender and to reflect on the role gender inequality has played in their own lives and careers and its impact on women and society. These have been rolled out nationally by Superintendent Miles Ockwell.
- To promote gender equality outside of their organisations, support for victims of domestic abuse, who are predominately women, providing community advice and initiatives. They also work with multi-agency teams to raise awareness and help prevent violence against women and girls; as well as support for women in the community through funding community initiatives and grassroot networks.
Chief Inspector Diane Lewis, District Commander of Eastbourne and Lewes Police, was amongst female officers who took part in Sussex Police’s first public Women in Policing Careers event earlier this year. She is also the deputy chair of the Sussex Police gender equality network, Evolve.
“I joined up in 1993 as a PC and the force has been a fantastic employer, supporting me through having a child and being a single mum, allowing me to work part time and then flexibly to support home life.
“As women, we bring fantastic skills to police work, such as compassion and communication skills. However, we often lack confidence in ourselves and our abilities – and that includes me. It’s important we reflect on our achievements and successes, and believe in ourselves.
“I have the support of a mentor and have also had coaching, both provided by the force, to help me. In turn I support others through my involvement in Evolve, and I mentor both men and women to support their career progression and personal growth.”
To inspire women to join, Chief Inspector Sarah Leadbeatter says: “I would say just do it! It’s one of the best jobs in the world and there is so much job satisfaction. We want difference, we want diversity within our organisation, so please just apply.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I am really delighted that Sussex Police has been given this prestigious recognition.
“Over the years, they have consistently championed the positive impact women have in policing and strongly encouraged them to progress their careers.
“They continue to work hard to diversify the force so they can better serve and represent Sussex communities.
“I recently appointed our first female Chief Constable, which was pivotal in the history of the force and proves that there is no glass ceiling for any woman in Sussex Police.”
Sussex Police offers many career options and its next PC recruitment campaign opens on August 5, 2020.
To find out more, please visit the force’s website here.