Leeds-based personal care ingredients manufacturer Stephenson is showing its support for International Women’s Day 2020 (Sunday 8 March).
The global manufacturing business which specialises in soap production for clients such as The Body Shop, employs 100 people from its production plant in Horsforth. A third of the Stephenson workforce is women, an increase of 24% in female employees since 2017. This includes the recent appointment of two female shift managers, Agata Pacanowska and Ewelina Ryba, to supervise operations in the manufacturing plant.
Women at the board level
The number of female staff team leaders has also trebled in the last three years and for the first time in the 164 year history of the fifth generation family owned business, a woman has been appointed to Stephenson’s Board of Directors. Lisa Flannery has become the Director of Finance bringing over 25 years of financial and accountancy experience to the business.
Coming from a corporate background with a wealth of experience, Lisa plays a key role at Stephenson not only as a Finance Director, but also working alongside male counterparts to align business culture and driving strategy forward. Lisa comments: “Making a difference in a smaller company and making things happen is what I really enjoy. The flexibility of top leadership and a family-focused culture allows the company to achieve ambitious goals and create a pace needed for competitiveness in the market. Everybody can add value to make a change.”
Investor in STEM
Stephenson is also a major supporter of the STEM initiative (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), running a dedicated STEM work placement scheme. This year Maariya Hussain is on placement at Stephenson, working as a QC Laboratory Assistant.
She comments: “Stephenson has been a huge part of my learning experience. As a student in pharmaceutical chemistry, this has been a great opportunity for me to obtain vast skills in real-life situations and it is incredibly fascinating to see this company grow. I am surrounded by amazing people who are always willing to help, and I am thankful to be a part of an organisation of such diversity and female empowerment.”
Women in Manufacturing
Recent addition - 2 Women Shift Managers
Agata joined Stephenson six months ago as a shift manager coming from a shift production and technical manager background. She decided to join Stephenson to take up a new challenge and is the first woman to be employed in the factory in Stephenson’s history. Agata’s role is to supervise production and packaging to meet customer needs. She comments: “I have the best team, they are the most supportive and patient people, unlike anywhere else I have worked before. I have been welcomed warmly by my male colleagues.” Agata also thinks the team ethos has created an environment for openness, trust and effective problem resolution - all critical for operational success. Driven by new challenges, Agata enjoys learning about the personal care industry and working on exciting new product projects like Syndopal.
Ewelina joined Stephenson in January this year. Bringing her previous team management experience to her new role, she particularly enjoys the challenge of learning new things and problem solving. Ewelina comments: “It is rare to find women working in manufacturing, especially management positions, however, I think they offer strong, well-rounded problem-solving skills. It’s encouraging to see businesses like Stephenson employing more women in manufacturing roles.”
The campaign theme of this year’s International Women’s Day 2019 is ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights.’ The theme is aligned with UN Women’s new multigenerational campaign, Generation Equality, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
Jamie Bentley, CEO of Stephenson commented: “As a business, we are once again supporting International Women’s Day. The manufacturing sector is traditionally heavily male-dominated but as a progressive, forward-thinking and inclusive business we want to make sure we have the best people in positions performing to the best of their abilities, contributing to our ongoing success as a global manufacturing business.”
“We remain fully committed to workplace equality and have seen the number of women across our business steadily increasing over the past few years in all areas ranging from quality control and the technical division to warehousing and factory operations.”