Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day across the Trust, a day to mark women’s achievements, raise awareness of discrimination, take action to drive gender parity and embrace equality across the globe.
As part of our celebrations, we’ll be chatting to various directors and divisional directors across our organisation as part of our new ‘Leaders at LTHTR’ feature. Here, you’ll be able to find out more about leaders across our Trust and the topics that matter to them.
We begin with a conversation with Ailsa Brotherton, Director of Continuous Improvement and Transformation, about her experience as a female in leadership and what she’s doing to celebrate International Women’s Day today.
Hi Ailsa. Firstly, tell us a bit about your role at LTHTR and what it entails…
My role is to ensure that our organisation and wider system adopts a robust improvement science methodology to design, test, embed and sustain improvements for our patients, wider population and colleagues. This includes the provision of training in Improvement Science as well as delivering improvement programmes at system (macro), pathway (meso) and local ward and department (micro) level. In addition to improvement, my role also now includes transformation which is focused on more radical change at scale to maximise how we adopt new models of care, optimise digital solutions and to work in a fully integrated way to meet the needs of our local population. This includes co-leading exciting improvement programmes of work such as our integrated care system being an accelerator site for Core20Plus, reducing health inequalities and Engineering Better Care across Lancashire and South Cumbria using a system level improvement framework.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It’s a fabulous opportunity to celebrate the successes of so many inspirational women. I choose different ways to thank the women who have inspired me or have been supportive at some point during my career. Sometimes I use social media to thank them, other years I have sent a thank you card or gift. I’ve decided how I am going to celebrate this year; I’m going to contribute to a crowdfund to support a group of inspirational women in business with strong social values.
Tell us about your experience into leadership. Have you found that opportunities and career progression has been harder for females than their counterparts?
I’ve had some fabulous opportunities in my career which commenced with a leadership development programme for women in the NHS in the early 1990’s at the start of my clinical career and have gone on to include a post-doctural research post at UCLan, a secondment to the Department of Health, the Health Foundation Generation Q programme, a role with the Trust Development Authority/NHS Improvement and an honorary chair at UCLan. These opportunities have collectively given me real insights into how the NHS works and the contribution of research, knowledge management and innovation in improving healthcare. I don’t feel that career progression has been harder for me than my counterparts, though I don’t think this is the case for all women and we do need to address this to ensure that all women have the same opportunities as their counterparts.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
It is well recognised that diversity in leadership is critical to success and this includes all women from a diverse range of backgrounds. One of the things I am particularly proud of is our Inclusive Leadership at Lancs programme which aims to widen access to leadership positions across our organisation.
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
I have seen huge progress, when I commenced the leadership programme for women the programme was offered because there were so few women in senior leadership positions at that time in the NHS. We have made so much progress, just look at our board and the outstanding women in senior leadership roles right across our organisation and system. There is however, still much more to do as we haven’t yet achieved equity of access to leadership positions for all women and this is the focus of our work now.
What are the most effective ways to counteract the negative stereotypes of feminism, especially in the workplace?
This is a great question and there are a number of ways we can do this. The most important for me is to live our Trust values as these promote respect for all, valuing inclusivity and diversity and promoting and valuing civility and kindness.
What advice will you give to your younger self or women wanting to get into leadership roles in the NHS?
Be ambitious! Humility is really important in the work that we do in health care but it can impact on our views of the importance of the work that we do and the level of ambition that we set, so my advice to women wanting to get into leadership positions in the NHS is ‘Be Bold, Be Brave’ and create the opportunities to lead the improvements that you want to see.