At thebigword we believe it’s important to support all employees, regardless of gender, race, religion and beliefs. We’re proud of the diversity amongst our employees and take pride in having a large number of senior women in localisation.

As part of our ‘women in localisation’ series, this month we sat down with Sarah, our Senior HR Business Partner to discuss her views on equality and what it’s like to be a woman in a senior position within the business.

What is it like to be a female in a senior position?

It’s good and thoroughly enjoyable. However, I’d like to think that my hard work through university and experience in previous jobs have paid off and got me to where I am now. University opened many doors for me and there’s a strong link between law and HR which has definitely helped. I’m proud to be in the role I’m in now – thebigword definitely allows room for progression.

Where did your career start?

My first job was selling coats on Huddersfield market, aged 14! I loved that role and it gave me so many skills such as building confidence and talking to people. My first proper job was at a firm of solicitors as a receptionist and then Clerk / PA. Whilst working in Bradford I went to university part-time over 4 years and completed my law degree. My first job in HR was after I graduated in 2003 and I stayed at that particular company for 6 years. In April 2010, I moved into a much larger organisation where I stayed for 7 years, before joining thebigword in August 2017.

What did you aspire to be when you were younger?

When I was younger, I always aspired to be a police woman. I did my work experience with the Police, and loved the Scenes of Crime and Dog Handler departments. However when I landed my first job at the solicitors I got comfortable and stayed a few years in the legal industry. This prompted me to do a law degree as I had a keen interest in law. At uni I really enjoyed employment law and when the opportunity came to use this in my work I jumped at it.

How do you manage work/home life balance?

The balance can be difficult to manage in a senior role as peoples’ expectations of you are greater – as are mine! I put a lot of pressure on myself as my team rely on me and I always want to do well, no matter what I’m doing. Working here does help though as thebigword is very supportive of a work life balance and there are lots of options and opportunities available to help get this balance right.

Do you think you add anything to a senior role because of your gender?

Rather than solely my gender, I’d like to think I’ve got to where I am because I work hard and is more of a reflection of how I do my job. I think people should have the opportunity to get to where they are because they are good at what they do, not because of their gender. I would not want to get a job to address an imbalance in gender – I would want to be successful because I was the best person for the job.

Have you faced any challenges due to your gender in the localisation industry? If yes, what are the challenges and how have you overcome them?

I’ve only been in the localisation industry for a year so no to the first part of the question!

The only time I ever felt my gender came into something once a few years ago when I worked on a particularly difficult tribunal case. We won the case and afterwards the CEO of the company congratulated me and joked that the Judge must have liked my outfit. I had a put months of work into that case and I wanted to be recognised for my effort, not my gender or outfit.

 What are the career opportunities like in your chosen sector/area of the business?

The career opportunities are good. Every Company needs HR so hopefully there will always be opportunities available.

Many companies are also recognising the need for HR on their board of directors (just as we do at thebigword) which opens up more senior roles. There are also lots of areas in HR to specialise in.

Do you find your role rewarding?

Very much so! From a manager perspective, I have a great team and it’s rewarding for me to hear them talking and advising in the office and they are doing a good job.

As far as what I do, I like being involved with people and working strategically with managers to try and plan the best for their department. As a HR team here at thebigword we are constantly reviewing and revising our strategy to fit with the Company’s strategic objectives and to react to changes that occur in the business. We still have many exciting plans for the future coming up such as the launch of the new employee handbook so watch this space!

What are your thoughts on the push to encourage greater female Board members?

Diversity on a Board of Directors is great, it ensures they are in the best position to consider all aspects of issues when implementing strategic planning as well as reacting to events. However, diversity shouldn’t be limited to just gender. I know that thebigword strives to be fully inclusive in all aspects of the business, including the Board.

What do you think the workplace can do to support equal opportunities for male and female candidates in senior positions?

Fair, transparent policies and processes. When I see a candidate, I don’t see male or female, just a person. If someone is unsuccessful in applying for a role or promotion then they should understand why so they know what areas they can work to improve on and can be assured that gender did not play any part in the decision making.

 thebigword manages equality and diversity by offering fair, courteous and equal opportunities to all individuals. Sarah’s experience at thebigword highlights the diversity and opportunities for progression at thebigword – from leading a team to working flexible hours. Keep your eyes peeled for next month’s discussion from women in localisation.

Sarah Paveley, Senior HR Business Partner