Celebrating International Women’s Day with GIMA

As we look forward to celebrating International Women’s Day on Friday 8th March we shine a spotlight on some of the incredible women who are driving change and growth at GIMA. Take it away, ladies!

As Director of GIMA for the past decade, Vicky Nuttall, has an unrivalled woman’s eye overview of our industry. She and her colleagues give some insight into their roles and share their thoughts on why it is important to recognise and celebrate women at this time. “I’ve been the GIMA Director for 10 years now,“ she says, “and my favourite part of the job is meeting the members, and hearing all about their exciting plans. It’s especially rewarding if we know that through our help, they’ve managed to succeed and achieve their objectives.

“Despite women being well represented in our trade bodies, I believe it’s important to draw attention to the fact that we are still underrepresented within the entrepreneurial or senior management roles within the industry. By showcasing women who have successfully navigated their careers into senior leadership roles we can inspire the next generation to believe it’s possible for them too.”

GIMA President, Jenny Douthwaite, picks up the baton, saying: “I have immensely enjoyed my Presidential role over the past two years. It has many responsibilities (including wearing the Presidential chain at formal occasions!) but my principal objective whilst in term has been to help support Vicky in her ENORMOUS remit and work behind the scenes at making the member experience as fulfilled as possible.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for a business that recognises and celebrates the contribution and achievements of all employees, regardless of their gender, but my positive experience has not been shared by all women. International Women’s Day brings to the forefront the disappointing reality that gender bias does still exist in the world and that there is a long way to go in promoting gender equality and empowering women. The garden industry, has, in my opinion, fostered a more inclusive approach than others and is well representing women at all levels. Is there room for improvement? Always.

“GIMA events are always my favourite part of the job. I’ve been able to get involved in many over the last few years with my all-time favourite being the iconic GIMA Awards. Not only does the evening bring together our industry colleagues for a valuable networking opportunity but I love that it recognises and celebrates the outstanding achievements and contributions in the industry. Witnessing others being recognised for their achievements has motivated and inspired me to strive for the same excellence.”

Incoming President, Kate Ebbens, who is about to take over as Jenny’s two-year tenure comes to a close, says her favourite bit about being in GIMA is: “Supporting our director Vicky (she is truly inspirational) and being part of an association that can engage, develop and be face to face with like-minded people. Working with a women-led association is daily proof that women can do it! There is a sense of unspoken understanding amongst us and that helps productivity and encouragement to do the best for our members. Just know to trust in your knowledge and abilities.
“Recognising the achievements of women in all facets of life makes a huge impact on the development of self-respect, often leading to new opportunities. ‘There needs to be more emphasis on developing and supporting women in our industry in my opinion.”

Fulfilling another crucial role at GIMA is Membership & Marketing Co-Ordinator, Angie Lloyd, who says that favourite part of her job is: “The day-to-day variety and supporting our members through the association initiatives. Then there are the events! The GIMA Awards are a highlight of our calendar each year.

“It’s important to recognise and celebrate International Women’s Day because of adversity faced by women, but also to inspire and empower the next generation. I think we are quite lucky as an industry. Women are represented in leadership roles across the industry network and that has always been really inspiring to me. I think there’s still improvement needed in some areas, like more opportunities for women and support in general, but I think gender wise the garden industry is on the right track”.

This brings us onto the question of why garden retail is a good career option for women. Vicky’s response to this is very positive: “I would say that our industry is a good career option for anyone, from any background”, she tells us. “The people are what makes or industry, whoever you are, the sky’s the limit.”

Jenny is equally positive, saying that: “Garden retail offers a diverse and wide range of roles for women to get involved in and provide a fulfilling career. Whether the opportunities are in manufacturing or retail, one thing for sure is that this industry never stands still, and this dynamic nature means there are always plenty of opportunities for continuous learning and professional development.”

Kate adds: “In 2021 a study by GoCompare revealed gardening is the fourth most popular trade job for women 10.23%*. Gardening is a growing industry, with a demand for skilled people and we need to ensure women are part of that growth”.

On the inspiring and poignant subject of iconic women and personal heroines, Vicky says: “I lost a very dear friend recently to cervical cancer, so my mind immediately gravitates towards her. Even when she knew the end was near, she never gave up, never complained and kept everyone around her grounded. Her strength and determination in the face of adversity has made me determined to make the most of everything that life has to throw at me.”

For Jenny: “There are so many iconic women in my professional life that continually inspire me to be a better version of myself. However, the top spot must go to my lovely mum. Her kindness and selflessness taught me that no matter the situation, your words and actions will always leave a lasting impression so make it a positive one. Her ability to overcome obstacles with strength and resilience has inspired me to face challenges with a similar determination and grace.”

Kate is happy to give a shout out to Minette Batters. “She is the outgoing National Farmers Union President; she lives on the other side of my family farm in Downtown and I have known here for a long time. Minette has not only been a female farmer but shown enormous strength of character when working with the government on trade policy, championing British agriculture. As she has come to the end of her term this year, she will now embark on a farm enterprise for growing flowers. In 2020 she was included in the Radio 4 Women’s Power List”.

Angie brings an inspirational namesake to the fore: “Recently I have been inspired by Angela Rippon. I want be able to Dance like her when I’m her age! In the garden industry, one of the most inspirational people to me – even before I joined GIMA – is Vicky Nuttall. Jenny Douthwaite, Kate Ebbens, and Kimberley, owner of Hornby George, are also top of my list!

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