Sally Wilson GatenbySanderson's Women's Affinity Group Chair

A word from our new GatenbySanderson Women’s Affinity Group Chair

Sally Wilson, our newly appointed Interim Chair of GatenbySanderson’s Women’s Affinity Group reflects on the achievements of the group in the past year, what’s coming next and her role to continue driving the agenda internally and across our work with clients and candidates.

Last weekend I took my 8-year-old daughter to see the musical ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World’. In one scene Emmeline Pankhurst comes to life in a museum and explains to 11-year-old Jade that progress takes time. My daughter leans into me and says “is that true Mummy?” I replied “Yes, darling”. But like the moral of the musical and book, every single woman (and person) plays a role in that change.

As I take on my role as Interim Chair of GatenbySanderson’s Women’s Affinity Group and on this International Women’s Day I reflect on the things we have done as an Affinity Group over the past 12 months and what I’d like to focus on during my term.

Return to work programme

I am incredibly proud to write that we successfully delivered a return to work programme that interviewed people across the business who’d returned after extended leave such as Maternity and Paternity to understand there experiences. From those interviews we were able to inform our HR team of trends so they could make adaptations for future returnees. This programme will continue with all individuals returning so further learnings can be made and implemented.

Pilot mentoring programme

We launched a pilot mentoring programme where 20 individuals across the business were paired up with mentors to support both their personal and professional development. The idea was that mentees would have an opportunity to gain practical knowledge, support and insight from an experienced colleague who has achieved a level of expertise they aspire to attain. Mentors have an opportunity to expand their repertoire of professional knowledge and skills through their instruction, facilitation and support of others. It was also a win for GatenbySanderson as they have the opportunity to further develop and disseminate the wealth of talent, skill and knowledge of across its employees. As with all pilots we have lessons to learn before a wider role out and we have just sent out a questionnaire to all those who took part so we can take those learnings to HR and SLT and role out future mentoring schemes across the business.

You can listen to what two of our particapants gained from building their mentor and mentee relationship.


We also launched menohub, an internal reference library for women, allies and managers of women across the business where they could access articles to support women experiencing menopause symptoms. Last year we brought in external speakers and trainers to further support the business.

Deeds not words

Its clear as I write this that my predecessor very much lived the values of ‘deeds not words’ and actively supported the women working for GatenbySanderson.

Like Emmeline Pankhurst says, progress takes time, but I’d like to add that progress needs to be measured and reviewed. This need to measure and review is echoed in McKinsey’s 2023 Women in the Workplace report and the five core areas they advise companies focus on:

  1. tracking outcomes for women’s representation
  2. empowering managers to be effective people leaders
  3. addressing microaggressions head-on
  4. unlocking the full potential of flexible work
  5. fixing the broken rung, once and for all

I am proud to write that I feel privileged to work for a business that recognises the importance of these areas of potential challenge for Women and in my role as Chair I hope to make further steps forward.

Annual engagement survey

One of our ideas is to expand our annual engagement survey to ask deeper questions which may shed light on how women across our business feel about challenges such as;

  • caring responsibilities
  • finding time for exercise/ interests outside of work
  • feeling comfortable about saying something if they see or experience harmful behaviour in the workplace
  • and being allies to other under-represented groups such as LGBTQ and ethnic minorities.

By incorporating these types of questions into our annual staff survey we feel we can address some of those outlined core areas in the McKinsey report and have real time data of how our colleagues are feeling and be able to measure and review them.

Connecting affinity groups

I am also an advocate for learning from others and I’d like to bring our affinity groups closer together both internally and externally. My husband shared with me that when he was Chair of his Race Affinity Groups they met regularly with the Affinity groups of the companies that shared the same offices. The opportunity to hear what other organisations were doing was invaluable and I have already started reaching out to some of the Local Authorities I work with to ask them if we might be able to link up.


Although International Women’s Day is about highlighting the inequalities faced by Women I am sure that all Women simply want to work and live in a environment where no matter what your gender, race, sexual orientation/ identity and disabilities everyone is treated equally.  I am excited about playing my role as Women’s Affinity Chair and I hope that by this time next year I will have embodied the phrase ‘deeds not words’ and continued to review and measure change for all GatenbySanderson’s employees and hopefully wider afield.

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