Police and fire crews press for progress for equality at work and in the community

 July 18, 2018

IWD Best Practice Winners

Emergency service heroes Cheshire Constabulary, in the United Kingdom, held a truly inspirational joint conference with Cheshire Fire Brigade for International Women's Day as they urged colleagues to help #PressforProgress for greater equality across the community and within the workplace.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire put out a strong message on social media saying "On International Women’s Day, I would like to say a big thank you to all the women in policing for working hard to keep our communities safe - #IWD2018 #PressforProgress."

Acting Chief Constable Janette McCormick said: “This year International Women's Day is focusing on forging a better working world which is more inclusive and gender equal. At Cheshire Constabulary we pride ourselves on these values and would like to use today as an opportunity to continue to encourage women to join the Force and help play a key role in keeping our communities safe.”

International Women's Day provided a "fantastic opportunity to celebrate the progress of women in the workplace". 

The IWD event pack provided excellent visual resources

Cheshire Constabulary decorated a large six metre backdrop with the IWD banner, bunting and the balloons, and provided programmes for the week along with profiles of inspirational female role models within the force, celebrating their achievement while importantly raising visibility. Every person who entered the headquarters that week, saw the impressive International Women's Day back drop. "We really wanted it to be in your face," commented the Constabulary, who also designed further posters, leaflets and internal communications to promote International Women's Day. They incorporated the IWD logo on their print and digital media in conjunction with their Police Crest and the Women in Policing logo.

Chesire Police Women's Day
Group Manager, Lynsey McVey, leads an interactive discussion for International Women's Day.

Tangible ways to build confidence and trust across communities

More than 160 staff including officers, cadets, apprentices and support colleagues from Cheshire Constabulary and partner agencies attended a series of impressive events for International Women’s Day. With a pledge to build confidence and trust in the communities in which they operate, and to raise greater awareness in supporting of the trans and non-binary community, Cheshire Constabulary hosted “real, honest, and emotional” presentations from inspirational colleagues and guest speakers. An incredible and worthy effort to #PressforProgress.

Chesire Police Women's Day
Cheshire Constabulary Chief Inspector Sarah Pengelly shares supporting words of insight and wisdom with her International Women's Day audience.

"With the theme of International Women's Day 2018 being Press for Progress we wanted to explore a number of the barriers which prevent women from actually feeling either the confidence or having the skills or the ability to actually reach their full potential," explained Chief Inspector Sarah Pengelly. 

Sarah is one of the role models, whose profile was displayed online and on the promotional material, together with a number of further role models within the Force. Cheshire Constabulary were aiming to inspire and empower women by having a number of real models whom they could relate to. The role model profiles are still displayed across the force to this day.

Inspiring women to fly high

The week long effort for International Women's Day saw inspirational talks, seminars and workshops supporting the Press for progress ethos. A highlight was the guest appearance from keynote speaker Captain Cat Burton who was the first ever female-transitioned pilot in the UK. Cat (now retired) was the most senior female pilot for British Airways. She is a transgender woman and through her presentation inspired the women to ‘fly high’ in their own careers.

The week began with a highly motivating talk from Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Sareda Dirir, about supporting, mentoring and assisting other women with their achievements. Chief Inspector Catherine Pritchard also delivered a brave and inspiring talk about turning positives into negatives, using her own emotional experiences of coping with cancer and how it made her a stronger person.

During the week, an insightful trans and non-binary gender talk was delivered by Body Positive's Dr Christopher Tomkinson and Nikola Li, a transgender woman, to encourage and empower members of the non-binary and trans community to progress in the workplace; aligning with the Cheshire Constabulary goals of becoming a more inclusive and diverse employer and increasing the public's trust.

A further two workshops were delivered by Debbie Hunt, including 'push your staff for progression' to give line managers the tools and strategies needed to help high potential staff progress. Debbie also delivered the Impostor Syndrome workshop to highlight a condition that can be prevalent among successful women.

Chesire Police Women's Day
Aspiring amateur choir sang inspirational songs in the Cheshire Constabulary canteen to engage and incolve colleagues in International Women's Day activity.

Encouraging wellness at work

Throughout the week an amateur choir configured from participants was set up& and who, after just four practices, performed 'Don't Stop Me Now' by Queen and 'Hold On' by Wilson Phillips in the canteen to encourage employees to take time away from their desks, have a wellness break and take part in singing. A one-off netball match was also arranged, encouraging women to take part in a sports activity.

It was a fantastic International Women's Week that left attendees highly motivated from the purposeful activities. Many colleagues commented on how pleased they were to attend the sessions celebrating International Women’s Day and how the events certainly prompted them to reflect on their own life experiences, and motivated them to succeed in their careers.

Chesire Police Women's Day
Cheshire Constabulary Chief Inspector, Catherine Pritchard, participates in International Women's Day activity that calls for a #PressforProgress.

Jana Hughes, Cheshire Constabulary HR Advisor, said: "The week couldn’t have gone better. It is a real achievement, personally, seeing the impact that the activities I arranged had on colleagues and the Force. People still talk about it now, and some are using the experience in their everyday life, which is a great lasting legacy of International Women's Day."

A highly successful best practice example of International Women's Day activity indeed, Jana and her colleagues at Cheshire Constabulary are certainly to be congratulated for their impressive work and for their strong commitment in helping raise greater awareness for gender equality in the commununities they so proudly serve. 

Chesire Police Women's Day
Inspirational women, Cheshire Constabulary PCs Bryony Hancock and Charlotte Wilson featured in a Channel 4 documentary shining a spotlight on the work done by Cheshire police.
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