Willerby celebrates International Women’s Day to inspire inclusion in manufacturing

08 March 2024

Willerby has celebrated International Women’s Day with colleagues by spotlighting the breadth of career opportunities in holiday home manufacturing and the importance of inclusion in the industry.

International Women’s Day is held every year on March 8 th , as a global celebration of the achievements of women. It is also an important day in both the education and acceleration of equality and gender parity.

As the UK’s holiday home market leader, at the forefront of a major manufacturing industry, Willerby has incredible women working in all parts of the business – from production and design to finance and engineering.

Willerby has celebrated International Women’s Day by bringing together colleagues for a special forum to discuss women in manufacturing, inclusivity and creating a positive workplace culture.

The session was also joined by three of Willerby’s male colleagues, to give them an opportunity to hear female perspectives of working within a manufacturing business.

Here are the views of some of the colleagues who took part in our International Women’s Day

Helen Capps, Head of Health, Safety and Environment

“Back in 2001 I was looking for work, and approached several recruitment agencies for help. I was told I should focus on admin-based roles.

“I knew straight away that wasn’t right for me – I could never see myself in a desk-based role, I like to be doing something a bit more physical.

“Luckily, I ignored that advice, which seemed so old-fashioned to me. I started working in the printing industry, specialising in waste management, and then eventually went on to work for McCain Foods as a Health and Safety Site Manager, before joining Willerby last year.

“To me, International Women’s Day should be aimed at young women, to remind them that they can do whatever job they like and can be successful in that job.

“The biggest obstacle facing women is, ironically, often women themselves. A lot of women think there are careers they should not be pursuing, or things they should not be doing.

“International Women’s Day is about changing mindsets and telling women they can be whoever they want to be. If that’s working in a manufacturing business like Willerby, then brilliant!”

Oluwasayomi Ayandokun, Supply Chain Analyst

“I came to the UK from Nigeria to study for a Master’s degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at the University of Hull.

“Growing up in Nigeria, it’s a very different culture to what you see here in the UK. It’s very difficult for women to get to a stage in their career where they are seen.

“While I was finishing my Master’s at Hull, I saw the job at Willerby advertised. I was fascinated by how caravans were built and thought it looked a great place to work.

“I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I joined Willerby, but from day one everyone has been so supportive and helpful.

“For me, International Women’s Day should be about going into places like schools and colleges and speaking to girls and young women there about all the different careers available to them.”

Bethany Dowson, Electrical Apprentice

“I used to work as a receptionist and quickly realised it wasn’t something that I wanted to do as a career.

“I came to Willerby and have found it so inclusive. No one has ever treated me any differently and I have really enjoyed the industry and workplace.

“It can still be difficult for young women to take the leap and work in a manufacturing role. For example, you might be worried that you will struggle with some of the more physical elements of the job.

“Like with any team or business, there are people around you who can help you when you first start. You’re not on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask for support.”

Rob Mooney, Director of Technical

“We work in a world which is full of big characters – I think it can still be difficult for some women to feel like they can come into a manufacturing business and make a big impact, and that their voice will be heard.

“What I have always said is it’s not always the loudest people who have the best ideas. We’ve worked hard at Willerby to create an environment where everyone can share their thoughts and opinions, and everyone is respected.

“International Women’s Day isn’t just a day for women to celebrate, it’s an important day for everyone to get involved in. It was great to join the forum and hear all the different experiences women have had in their careers, both at Willerby and before joining the business.”

Sara Mcintosh, CAD Engineer

“I previously worked for personal care manufacturer Kimberley Clark over in America, and then came to England and was looking for a job.

“I was told by someone that working in a manufacturing-type role wasn’t the done thing for women, so I went into teacher training. I quickly realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I went back into CAD engineering.

“Being told that you can’t, or shouldn’t, do a certain type of role, can have a really significant impact on your mind, but from the first day of joining Willerby, I realised what a welcoming and open environment it is.

“It’s far more relaxed and less hierarchical than what I was used to in previous workplaces. You feel you can speak your mind and that your voice will be heard.”

Willerby champions women working in roles right across the business. Half of Willerby’s Board of Directors are women, highlighting the opportunities available to staff at the manufacturer to rise to senior roles.

By bringing colleagues together to celebrate International Women’s Day, Willerby has underlined its commitment to inclusion, removing barriers and championing diversity across its operations.