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Celebrating senior leaders on International Women’s Day

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Dudley Council is celebrating its female leaders this International Women’s Day today, as the authority’s senior line-up becomes majority female for the first time.

The authority, which has always aimed to be diverse in its recruitment practices has consistently seen women in senior positions in the authority, but a recent influx of new candidates now sees seven senior female leaders within the council.


Karen Wright joined the authority in early 2021 as new director of public health, with Catherine Driscoll following soon after to head up children’s services. The authority will soon welcome Balvinder Heran as its first ever female deputy chief executive and Luisa Fulci as director of commercial and customer services. They join Helen Martin as director of regeneration and enterprise, Helen Ellis as service director for early help, schools and SEND and Andrea Stone as service director for children’s social care.

While having women in senior roles can inspire other women to further their own careers, the authority is also putting steps in place to empower women who work in lower paid roles to gain the skills and confidence they may need to progress. The authority will begin rolling out the first of its #IamRemarkable training sessions on International Women’s Day as part of a much wider programme. It will specifically target female employees in lower paid roles as well as apprentices, and there is an ambition to target unemployed women.

Themes include confidence and empowering career development sessions as well as boosting the support offer to members of the workforce returning from maternity or adoption leave.

Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member responsible for HR said:

This is a fantastic time to be working for the authority and I’m really glad that we have recruited so many skilled, talented women to our senior leadership team.
We have implemented a new pay structure which will help to increase the pay for staff on lower salaries, and we are exploiting all the opportunities provided by apprenticeships, allowing employees to develop the skills to help them progress in their careers, and nearly 60% of our apprentices are women.
Our internal Torch programme which focuses on management and leadership skills has seen a 63% uptake by female employees. Empowering our staff and giving them the opportunity to develop as leaders and implement change is essential if we are to offer the best possible services to our residents.

Jacqueline Branch, head of HR and organisational development said:

We have an incredibly talented and dedicated workforce and we know that there are future leaders, managers and chief executives there for the making, we just need to ensure we provide the resources, training, confidence and mindset so that our employees can make the most of the opportunities open to them.

The council will continue to work hard to make sure that women are represented across all tiers of management within the authority through targeted support and training that enables career progression. Alongside this it will review recruitment practices and promote Dudley Council’s commitment to flexible working and employees maintaining a healthy work life balance, to ensure that Dudley Council continues to be an employer of choice for all candidates.

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