Who would have thought, 100 years ago, that our country would be led by our second female prime minister, and that baby girls born this year will expect to grow up with equal rights to their brothers? These are things we take for granted, but if it were not for the brave actions of a group of determined and single-minded women 100 years ago, we may still have been in our pinnies in the kitchen on election day, whilst our men voted for the country’s next leaders.
Portsmouth, home of food manufacturer Quattro Foods, has just celebrated 100 years of women being allowed to vote. As long as they were married and over the age of 30, of course.
It’s cause for celebration and in our enlightened world of 2018, also cause for disbelief that there was a time, not so long ago, when women were literally second class citizens, told to sit quietly and look pretty amongst our ambitious and high-earning menfolk.
Yet still, 100 years after the Suffragettes sacrificed so much for equality, British businesses are rife with high profile accusations of gender pay gaps, and ongoing inequality.
At Quattro Foods, a business started by a woman, not so. The female contingent at Quattro had a blast celebrating the Suffragettes’ success in Portsmouth and back in the office they are feeling proud and empowered.
They told us what it’s like to be a working woman at Quattro Foods.
Sam Brower, Managing Director: “One of the driving factors behind running my own business was to allow me to achieve a work-life balance, as a mum of three. No point in having children if I couldn’t both provide for them and enjoy plenty of time with them. It was incredibly difficult at the start but I certainly have a more flexible approach to the working day and that carries throughout the business. We have such a great team at Quattro, with quite a few couples and their adult children working within the business. Our aim is to be as flexible as we can. We want our team to enjoy working here and strive to help them achieve that balance. Breakfast meetings that inconveniently coincide with the school run are definitely the invention of men and we don’t hold them at Quattro!”
Cibele Barlows-Portugal, Office Manager: “For a woman, it’s generally a challenge to balance work and home life, but I would say I am lucky enough to have a job that I love and the different challenges I face every day keep me motivated. I also enjoy the daily change between family and work life. The hours I work allow me to see my daughter into school in the mornings, which allows me to be a part of her school life and interact with other parents. The office is quite male dominated at the moment, but we all work together, each no less important than anyone else and it’s a great working atmosphere. I keep fresh flowers in reception and serve coffee in china cups, as well as getting rid of the clutter around my male colleagues’ desks when any of them are on leave for a few days; that adds a more feminine feel to the work space and keeps the men on their toes! Here at Quattro, our Development Team is headed up by two brilliant male chefs, so I have no input in the recipes – apart from occasionally trying them, of course!”
It sounds like Quattro Foods has got their gender equality spot on. Flexible working and a collaborative and happy family atmosphere are key to their success. All food manufacturing businesses should take note!