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Removing the barriers to success

People who know me will agree that I was made for the role as DWP’s Diversity and Inclusion Gender Lead as I am really passionate about gender equality. Supporting Mayank Prakash, Chief Digital and Information Officer and DWP’s Gender Champion, it has allowed me to pursue ideas to help DWP maintain a diverse workforce.


Photo: Ozma with Nikki Shorrock, DWP HR lead for Gender

Women into leadership

At last month’s Women into Leadership conference Mayank was in attendance, keen to offer his support on the work towards gender equality.

The conference, aimed at women who aspire to move into a leadership role or those already in a senior role looking to progress, took place in both London and Leeds. Mayank sponsored 45 women across DWP to attend the event, he talked about why gender diversity is important to him as a father of two young women, and spoke proudly of our Women’s Network Group, which acts on our aspiration to see DWP as a leader in gender equality. He told the conference he was impressed by the group of self-starters who are making a real difference in our business.

At the Leeds event I spoke to Carolyn McConnell, one of nine attendees from DWP Digital. Carolyn, who works as part of the Business Architecture Develop, Inform and Assure team, said the experience was enlightening, entertaining, energising and much more. The speakers were truly inspirational women, everyone had something insightful, uplifting and of real practical value to share. She said the key message for her was ‘it’s okay to be me’: all too often we try to shape ourselves to fit in with the culture in which we find ourselves - real leadership is about knowing yourself and your strengths, playing to them and ultimately staying authentic and true to yourself. And, Joanne Burrage from our DWP Digital, Data and Analytics, who attended the London event, said it was another inspirational and motivational conference, and great to hear from so many successful female leaders.

Sharing our experiences

The conference showcased some amazing speakers, including Claire Moriarty, permanent secretary for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She encouraged us to see every experience as valuable and to take time to learn more about our colleagues to build better relationships. Lisa Appleyard, head of communications at the National Offenders Management Service talked about resilience and perseverance, sharing our stories and listening to others. Keela Shackell-Smith, co-chair of the Cross Government Women’s network, gave a candid view on ‘Knowing your Worth’ – which, lets be honest, we can all do with some help with from time to time! And, Harriet Minter, journalist and Women in Leadership Advocate who provided insight on how to be successful and ended with the advice “When in doubt, proceed until apprehended.”


Mayank took part in a questions and answers panel alongside Joanne Hopkins, head of Home Office Wales, Lorraine Jainudeen, DWP’s director of HR Operations and Sarah Hinchliffe, head of the network support office at the Valuation Office Agency. On our flourishing Women’s network he talked about how DWP are supporting women through the job-share/returners network and his admiration for these networks that are run by colleagues who are passionate about the issues women face. He also discussed creating an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive. Mayank’s top tips were: Believe in yourself; Go for the job you want and then negotiate the terms and pursue your full potential.
All of the speakers were so inspirational, but personally I found Sarah’s story the most engaging as she joined the Civil service with only two O levels and is a Yorkshire lass, like me.

Grab every opportunity

The point that resonated with me, and what almost every speaker touched on in one way or another, was the advice to take every opportunity that is presented to you and, to work out the logistics later. If you are good at what you do and eager to learn, no one will turn you away. My career is an example of this. I was an operations manager living and working in Bradford, but the job I applied for was based in London. I didn’t let this stop me - I really wanted the job, so I applied for it and when I was successful I put forward my case to remain based in Bradford. If I hadn’t applied, and then asked about possible locations - I would have missed this opportunity. In simple terms - if you don’t ask, you don’t get

If I have to choose one insight to share with you from the conference it’s: make sure you’re not the one creating barriers to your own success - cross every bridge as and when you come to it.

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