To recognise and celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we have sat down with Alison Vickers, the Managing Partner here at Bevan Buckland LLP, to discuss the challenges facing women in the workplace, as well as provide opinions on what we must do next to ensure equality is found.
Q: How long have you been at Bevan Buckland, what are some of the job roles you’ve had along the way?
I joined Bevan Buckland in September 1986 as a trainee Chartered Accountant. I qualified in July 1989 and was appointed audit manager in September 1990. On May 1st1997 I was thrilled to become Bevan Buckland’s first female partner. In November 2016 I took over as managing partner. Throughout my career at Bevan Buckland, I have loved all of these roles and relished every challenge I faced.
Q: As a woman, what was one of your biggest challenges during this time?
One of my biggest challenges at the start of my career was my confidence. I found that most meetings with senior staff tended to consist of mostly men, most of whom were extremely confident. I felt I needed to work harder to prove myself and my aim was always to exceed everyone’s expectations. At the time this was a huge challenge for me but as I progressed through my career, looking to exceed expectations became a big strength.
Q: Looking back, what advice would you give your teenage self?
Don’t lack confidence, believe in yourself and relish every opportunity you have. Also, don’t underestimate your own ability. Don’t allow anyone to put you down and most of all enjoy what you do.
Q: Throughout this time, what women have inspired you and how?
There have been many women who have inspired me – plus some men. Many of my clients are successful female business leaders who I admire, for example Elin Rhys who established Teledu Telesgop, a successful company that creates content for TV, Radio, Digital Media and Educational. As an accountant my working life revolves around numbers, detailed reports and emails. Where Elin inspires me is with her natural talent to present, a skill set that I could only dream of emulating. Listening to Elin reading my reports and making presentations, I have always been blown away by the talent she has for engaging with people and bringing the subject matter to life. To read a report for the first time and be able to interpret it as well as Elin does makes me realise the importance of reports being delivered in such a way that the listener engages and understands.
Q: Today, what are the biggest issues facing women in the workplace?
I still feel its confidence. I see a lot of graduates come through Bevan Buckland’s training academy and it dismays me to see that on occasion there are female recruits who not always have the confidence that their talent warrants.
I also see the challenges that women have in juggling family life and a career. My son is now 20 years old and at university, but when he was younger I would often feel guilty at being the mum who rarely picked him up from school and who sent him to school in the worst costumes on the world book day! I do believe the working format is changing allowing greater flexibility which I would have loved when my son was younger.
Q: I think it’s safe to say we haven’t achieved equality yet, moving forward, what steps/things do you think still need to happen?
With a team that is over 60% female with a strong female representation throughout all levels of the business, I feel, and I hope, that we are walking the talk when we say we embrace equality and that we want everyone in our business to reach their potential and succeed in Bevan Buckland.
To drive equality, we recognise what values are important to our female staff and we encourage feedback on our practices. We need to identify and celebrate women’s achievements and keep reminding women of the talent they have and the value they add not only to our business but to the wider economic and social community. How we champion equality needs to be part of the DNA of our business and culture.
Q: Finally, this year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity, what does mean to you?
To fully embrace equity Bevan Buckland acknowledges the journey that women face to achieve their goals can differ and we hope to accommodate these paths. We are conscious of inclusion and create level playing fields to allow everyone to succeed. Equality and diversity is embedded in all areas of the business from how people are embraced and valued for their individuality, to the processes and systems that allow and encourage it.