This International Women’s Day we asked our Board member, Louise Marshall to blog about her role as a woman in business.

Louise is the Infrastructure and Shared Services Director at Brother UK and as well as being a member of our Board, she is a keen supporter of Forever Manchester’s and also spoke at Forever Manchester Women in 2015. Louise was also proud to recently collect a Northern Power Women Award on behalf of Brother UK for Best Medium Business (pictured).

Louise’s Blog:

International Women’s Day is upon us, and I like to take time to reflect on the role I play as a woman in business, working in and around my local community.

For me, there are 2 key things – I want to set a good example to others, and I want to make a difference by being actively involved.

That starts with the company I work for (Brother UK) who have built a relationship with Forever Manchester to get real and lasting benefit from the money we commit to charity. In the past, like many companies, we donated to a variety of causes, without any real strategy or purpose – which is fine, but for us we wanted that investment to be more than just an exchange of money. We wanted to work with an organisation that shares our belief in supporting and developing communities, and giving them the chance to take ownership for the improvements that would make a real difference.

Our employees attend events, get involved in fund raising, and we have our FM Community Fund which will see a team of colleagues assessing applications for grants which will directly benefit our local community of Tameside through Asset Based Community Development activities. In particular we now have a regular group who attend the FM Womens Networking events, and have found it helpful in building their confidence outside the business.

But our community engagement activities don’t stop there – when we think about community we often think externally to the business – but we apply the same principles to our internal community, and as well as being an important factor in motivating people, we have also seen the business benefits, with an improved employer brand, an increase in staff retention and a reduction in recruitment costs. And that’s all particularly important right now, with a buoyant job market – in order to attract and keep the best people you need to get the basics right – providing a fair and equitable workplace environment and benchmarking salary & packages to the outside world – but if you really want to attract the best you have to offer something different – and we feel that our community engagement activities give us the edge against our competitors in the job market, because it gives people the “feel good factor” about working at Brother.

From a personal point of view I am fortunate to work with a lot of organisations many of whom are looking for help and support from business, but it’s not possible to be actively engaged with all of them, there just isn’t the time… so why did I specifically choose Forever Manchester? For me it’s a combination of the passionate people who work for the charity who have made me feel welcome and been supportive of me through some challenging times, but also the approach they take to encouraging communities to help themselves. They give me the opportunity to combine work with pleasure, by attending relaxed networking events, and meeting with other supporters – as well as a sense of giving something back, which is particularly important for me.

All of this is then shared internally (with other women in Brother UK) and externally (with schools, colleges, and other business networks) to set an example and demonstrate that active engagement can be personally and professionally rewarding.