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Celebrating women in business – International Women’s Day 2020

At NCFE, our executive team has a 1:1.5 ratio of women to men, and a ratio of 1:8 in favour of women in heads of department roles. Out of 548 full and part-time employees, around 85% are female.

We celebrate women’s achievements every day, but as its International Women’s Day, it gives us an excuse to shout about it!


The campaign theme this year for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual. As the campaign manifesto rightly states, each day, we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. As individuals, we have the power to actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions and improve situations – with gender equality being one of these situations.

Gender equality at NCFE

At NCFE, our employee value proposition is incredibly attractive. Across the business, our teams work flexibly to enable a better work-life balance, we place a high focus on employee wellbeing with staff able to access subsidised private healthcare, we even have a wellbeing room in our head office at Q6! More than anything however, NCFE offers fantastic routes for progression and helps to support employees to achieve their personal and professional goals with an emphasis on CPD and continuous learning.

Putting our people first has created a high-performance culture that we’re extremely proud of. Our workforce are at the heart of everything that we do and while the going might not always be easy, we all pull together and the rewards have been fantastic.

In recent months, not only were we chosen by the Government as the delivery partner for six of the new T Levels, we were also placed at number 26 on The Sunday Times Best Not-for-Profit Companies to Work For list.

To mark International Women’s Day, we asked some of the inspiring leaders from across our business to share their thoughts on what it means to them to be a woman in business:

Victoria Orr, Chief Customer Officer: 

“I read an article in the Guardian last year that stated ‘FTSE 100 CEOs are more likely to be called Stephen, or Steve, than they are to be a woman’. Women today are still fighting for equality at work and at home. The world is slowly adapting to the idea that alpha culture is out-dated and inadequate, but we still have a way to go to change this mind-set. As a woman, I feel it is my place and my responsibility to support, encourage and empower other women; not because we are better than men, but because we are equal.”

Sian Wilson, Executive Director of Customer and Commercial Strategy: 

"Progression should be based on the right behaviours, ability and performance, not gender. Policies brought in by employers have brought added protection for women in the workplace in recent years, however this needs to be not just 'policy', but a cultural shift within the world of work. If we are to have a truly equal and diverse workforce, this shouldn't be just for women, but for all demographics of society."

Gail Rochester, Head of Business Development: 

“Seeing no limits in what’s possible helps me to be a successful female leader in business. Believing in myself, my colleagues and the purpose of the business means there’s no need to hold back.”

Lindsey GibsonHead of Group IT: 

“NCFE does not recognise any barriers to success, be it gender barriers or otherwise. We focus purely on the potential of colleagues and applicants and identify and celebrate the collective value each individual brings to support us to achieve our Purpose. As a leader (and a woman) at NCFE who has been promoted internally, I feel supported to achieve by all of my colleagues.”

Julie Hyde, Executive Director for Education and Training Strategy: 

“It’s a privilege to be a woman leading within an organisation at the forefront of technical education reform, impacting the lives of people everywhere.”

Dawn Baker, Executive Director of Innovation: 

“I wish we could get to a point where we just talk about great leadership rather than having to define a difference based on gender, race etc. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve and this is largely because of the leaders that have gone before me. I hope that I can model the behaviours worthy of any great leader irrespective of my gender.”

Helen Owen, Head of Product Development: 

“I am incredibly proud to work at NCFE particularly as the business does not define success based on gender. Being a women working in a leadership role feels privileged however part of my success of being a leader continues to be effective due to working in a gender mix business where males and females are equally respected.”


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