IWD2020: Jan Dowding

Author Matthew Gravelle
March 7, 2020

We proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2020. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.

We interviewed Jan Dowding, Head of Tax at UK Power Networks. 

#IWD2020  #EachforEqual

The theme for IWD2020 is #EachforEqual. Have you experienced gender stereotypes/gender bias in a professional context? If so, how have you been able to challenge this?

I have had some great of opportunities in my career and have seized every opportunity to progress and fulfil my potential. 

In my early career, I occasionally experienced gender stereotyping and bias at work and most was unconsciously done. I challenged this by performing my role at a high level, to prove them wrong through my actions. 

Thankfully, the workplace has changed a lot since I started my career in the 1990s. “Diversity” was not such a focus for the work place then, so it is great to see it on corporate agendas now. 

What does equality in the workplace look like for you?

To me equality means equal opportunity for all regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, beliefs and age. It means equal access to roles and equal treatment, which are both key to creating a retaining a diverse workforce. Equality should enable everyone to take their “whole self” to work and thrive.

If you mentor professionals at the early stages of their careers, do they/have they encountered different equality issues than you experienced at the same stage in your career? What changes have you seen? 

I am passionate about the positive effects that mentoring can bring and I have found being a mentor a rewarding experience. My mentoring relationships today are less about “what” they need to do to advance their career. The focus now is on “how” to achieve their goals, how to have those conversations with their line managers to seek further development and promote the great work that they are doing.

Do you feel social media has influenced a positive shift change for female leadership?

I not a regular follower of social media, but I see lots of positive posts on LinkedIn about inspiring female leadership. We know that social media is incredibly influential and as female leaders, we should all be using this positively to share our stories to “light the way” and inspire our up and coming female leaders. 

If yes, has there been any particular stories that have resonated with you?

I love a good Ted talk. I particularly like Yassmin Abdel-Magied “what does my headscarf mean to you?” – a very thought provoking positive talk. I also get a lot of great reading inspiration from female leaders online. I found Mary Portas “Work like a woman” and “How to own the room” by Viv Groskop very motivating. 

What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?

UK Power Networks was the UK’s first electricity distributor to be awarded the National Equality Standard in 2018, showing best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion and is the highest ranked utility in the Inclusive Top 50 UK employers’ list, for promoting the inclusion of diversity. However, we don’t rest of our laurels. 

Our business recognises that a diverse workforce is critical to the future success of our business and best reflects the interests of the millions of people we serve. 

We have an EMPower Community that is open to all our employees to join and make suggestions on how UK Power Networks can encourage and promote equality and inclusion. I recently joined the “Everyone Matters” steering committee at UK Power Networks and look forward to working with the EMPower community more this year to keep breaking down barriers and promoting greater diversity.

Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.