City & Country celebrates International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, we’re sharing the stories of City & Country colleagues who are #InspiringInclusion by championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

This year, the IWD’s campaign aims to ‘Inspire Inclusion’ by emphasising the importance of diversity and empowerment in all aspects of society.

At City & Country, we recognise how vital it is to create a diverse and welcoming workplace, and we’re working to provide the resources and opportunities needed in our business so all our employees can achieve and exceed their aspirations and goals.

To celebrate IWD’s 2024 campaign, we’ve asked some of our colleagues to share their experiences and discover how City & Country are inspiring inclusion this IWD, including:

  • Cheron Phillips, Document Controller
  • Alice Pichel, Head of IT and Systems Development
  • Georgina Tarn, Interior Design Manager
  • Natasha Callaghan, Senior Marketing Manager
  • Shelley West, Group Sales & Marketing Director
  • Kat Gawenda, Site Manager

These incredible women represent a variety of departments and skillsets from across the company, so we are delighted to hear their experiences and what IWD means to them.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

Cheron: To recognise all women regardless of their creed and colour and to celebrate their accomplishments.

Alice: Recognising and empowering women and an unwavering commitment to the battle for gender equality.  When all genders are treated fairly and equally it has a profound impact on an organisation – increasing employee satisfaction and motivation, providing a diverse mix of role models to inspire others and ultimately improved success and profitability for a business.

Georgina: Celebrating women’s achievements and getting to a point in society where women are appreciated and welcomed into industries that were once very male dominant.

Kat: When I was younger, IWD was just a day when we would receive gifts from our dads, friends, or colleagues. With time, I recognised it is a lot more – it is a chance to raise awareness and educate others about women’s rights, challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about gender roles.

Who are the women that inspire you, and why do they inspire you?

Cheron: Rosa Parks is one and Tina Turner is another, but my biggest hero is my mum. She moved to this country to follow my dad when asked by the British Government to fill the gap in the various employment sectors. She had to endure so much hostility and prejudice. She then went on to bring me and my siblings up when my dad left – she never complained and just got on with things.  At times working several jobs, I am eternally grateful to her and what she showed me about strength and resilience.

Georgina: One is Emma Grede – she seems to juggle multiple businesses so successfully, create empires, empowers others, yet still has a great work life balance not jeopardising family time. Another is Shea McGee – creating a very successful interior design company in a short space of time, having the drive and self-belief to take the risks needed to create Studio McGee – an interior design company known worldwide.

Natasha: My mum is my inspiration; she is a very driven person. When we were younger, anything could be achievable if you put in the time and effort. I also worked with a very inspirational Managing Director in my early career, and I learnt so much about property marketing and working in a male-dominated industry.

Shelley: Baroness Karren Brady CBE, CEO of West Ham United Football Club. And the reason for that is she is a very powerful female in what is primarily a male-dominated industry. She is labelled as one of the most influential women leaders in the UK and has a wealth of experience and someone who I look up to as a true leader for women in business.

Kat: My main inspiration in life is my mum. She is the strongest and the most determined person I know, she has succeeded greatly in another male-dominated industry, while raising three children. Her accomplishments motivate me every day.

What advice would you give any women who are hoping to enter the industry? 

Cheron: If you know that you can do the role, then go for it. Nothing should stop you – be confident.

Georgina: We are all equal, so be prepared for the fast-paced work, dedication, driven goals, teamwork, challenges, to name a few of which every employee faces to create and conquer.  The industry has massively changed over the years for the better; I have seen this even in the 10 years of working within the construction sector.

Shelley: Be willing to put your hand up and give everything a go, be open minded and make sure your voice is heard. I would also say lead by example. The property industry is a fantastic sector to be in, and we are seeing a real positive shift in female roles, whether that’s site managers, quantity surveyors, planners, construction workers, and it can only be a great thing for the industry.

Kat: Working in construction is challenging. Be ready for long hours, stressful days, and demanding deadlines. However, if you are determined, the reward for completing a project is like no other. Challenge the stereotypes by demonstrating your competence, professionalism, and dedication to your work.

Have you faced any barriers in your career being a woman?

Alice: In my experience, working part-time while raising young children posed challenges to my career advancement and pay growth. Unfortunately, part-time workers are often undervalued and underappreciated. However, recognising their immense potential and treating them equitably can transform them into valuable assets for any company.

Natasha: A defining moment for me was at school when the head of year said due to being Dyslexic, I couldn’t achieve A levels and study a degree. This drove me to achieve my goals and have a successful career.  Having children isn’t a barrier, but it is a juggle and has its challenges, not being able to make that 7.30am meeting or work until 7pm, but I have worked for some amazing employees that have given me opportunities to progress my career and juggling being a mum.

Shelley: I would say when I was younger, absolutely, and I certainly had to make my voice heard as a female in what has typically been a male-dominated sector. I aways made sure that I spoke up in meetings and had my say to ensure I wasn’t overpowered and ensure I was well respected as a female in the industry.

In your opinion, what are some of the unique attributes that women can bring to the industry? 

Cheron: Women ask more questions in my opinion.  More thoughtful in their approach to problems.  Most are happy to ask the opinion of someone else to complete a task.

Alice: Women excel at multitasking, a skill required in a fast-paced results driven environment.  Women have long had to balance work and a home life, juggling priorities on either side. I would also say effective communication is another attribute, which is vital to a successful business.

Georgina: The industry has massively changed over the years for the better and it’s a great industry to be in.

Natasha: Adaptable, personable, can manage a multitude of tasks and have a huge drive to achieve more.

Shelley: I think organisation is one, but I always pride myself on being understanding, having empathy, but also balancing and juggling work and home life and putting your work hat on and then being a mum with my home hat on.

Can you share any specific experiences at work that have empowered you?

Cheron: I can be assertive, without being rude. I often speak with all manner of trades with varying hierarchy.

Alice: I find empowerment at work when my leaders value my input and actively listen to me. Being an integral part of discussions and decision-making processes is massively empowering.

Natasha: Every day in the property industry is empowering, no day is the same and there is always a challenge which I thrive on.