Mar 08, 2023

International Women’s Day 2023

Across all our independent brands in IBMG, we have a number of important things in common. We share a set of values that make us the Group that we are today. IBMG also has a clear purpose that differentiates the Group from its local brands; IBMG’s purpose is to build a sustainable house of independent merchant brands delivering the best possible local service.

All our brands then hold those common values, irrespective of geography, specialism or heritage. These values may be expressed in different language, so that they resonate fully within each brand, but at their heart, these core values are everywhere in IBMG.

  • Local – being independent enables us to act locally; we live in and support our local communities and trades, with local products and the best service in town.
  • Collaborative – as a group, we are stronger together; we benefit from the collective knowledge of our colleagues, customers and communities to be the best at what we do.
  • Sustainable – our unique company structure and operating platform allow our brands to better serve their customers, preserve their heritage, and to protect and sustain the industry and environment in which we operate and live.
  • Diverse – with a wide range of brands, products and people, we deliver exactly what our diverse customers need to get their job done well.

Diversity is a particularly important value to all our brands, in all its forms, be that ethnicity, disability, background or gender for example. Our people and our customers are diverse, and we must ensure that we welcome diversity and equity. As today is International Women’s Day, Allun Pittingale, our Group Managing Director, South East, shares his thoughts on promoting equality in the workplace:

“Many of you know that I have been working in the builders merchants industry for most of my adult life – and that I love it! I love the down-to-earth nature of its people, the informal rapport with its customers and the fun you can have working in it. In my experience, you will get out of this industry what you put into it.

But that’s just my experience. The huge gender inequality in senior positions in our industry shows that my experience is not there for everybody to enjoy. That can’t be our reality, and we should all be thinking about what we need to do to put that right.

I am delighted that we have Sarah Campbell as our Group HR Director, Jenny Naylor as the Managing Director of RGB and Kelly Bolt as the Managing Director of Trading Depot. However, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of IBMG has more than 20 people in it so, as proud as I am of sharing the IBMG Boardroom with Sarah, Jenny and Kelly, we cannot claim to be an equal opportunity employer – just yet!
With today being International Women’s Day, we have an opportunity to consider how we need to be thinking if we want to move the needle on this opportunity and see more intelligent, driven and professional people of different genders and backgrounds in our senior roles.

For example, we need to be aware that we don’t just need to offer the same options and support to women as we do to men to be thinking equally. We don’t necessarily need to offer more support, but it may well need to be different. I believe that having a more equal business will result in it being a better business and it’s my job as well as my mission to bring that about.

I believe this is important for three main reasons:
1. You can’t be The Best to work for if you’re not giving everybody the same chances of success.
2. If we open up what it takes to succeed here, we will open up our recruitment options and attract more talented people.
3. Sarah, Jenny and Kelly make the SLT think differently with their different perspectives, and we need more of that.

This is not just about gender – the same could be said of ethnicity and background amongst many other things that make us all different.

So, if you lead a team of people, take the time today to explore the difference between equality and equity and ensure that the different people in your team, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or background, are getting what they need to succeed. Don’t assume that the options you can offer them at the moment are exactly what they need. Think more deeply yourself and, of course, ask your people individually how you can best support them – not from a list of options that currently exist but by inventing some new ones if you have to. You have a willing and able HR team behind you to help. If you don’t lead a team of people, then think about yourself and be ready to answer the question when it comes from your Line Manager. What help do you really need to improve your performance and boost your career?

Let’s make this business what it could be – what it should be – which is an open environment where anyone can come in and build a hugely successful career if they’re prepared to work for it. Somewhere where your race, gender or background is not a barrier to your success. Somewhere where those differences are understood, supported and celebrated. That sounds like The best place to work to me.”