Your Interview Helen Loomes


Helen Loomes

How long have you been involved in the lighting industry in total?

50 years.

Have you always been involved in the manufacturing side or have you come from another part of the industry?

Always manufacturing.

Do you feel that there is a wider diversity in sales, manufacturing and marketing over the last 20 years?

Yes, it is definitely improving.

What reasons do you think there are so few women working for manufacturing companies? What obstacles do women come up against?

The area where there are very few women is within the sales and technical areas. These are both challenging and often not appealing from a female perspective. Sales is a tough job that requires you to put yourself in a difficult situation and is very competitive. The technical side has the historic perception of not being a girl topic.

How do you think more women can be encouraged into this side of the lighting industry? What can manufactures do to encourage a diversity of applicants for roles in sales and product development for example?

Sales is difficult for everyone and is often associated with a “ Jack, the Lad “ image. It also does not carry much respect. The few women I know in product development have arrived there by mistake, but then found that the job is very interesting and fulfilling. If more women understood that these roles can be very flexible, they might be encouraged to try them more.

What are the positives of working for a manufacturer? What are the negatives?

A positive is that there is often a chance to earn a higher salary and comes with extras such as a company car. There are usually chances to travel and experience different roles within the company. On the negative side creativity is often limited and the old boys network has to be dealt with. The gender balance with regard to salary is still not equal.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Recruitment for manufacturers is usually via a specialised recruitment agency. For some reason this is usually aimed at men. It might be possible to reach out into more traditional female areas.

I hope that the recent focus on STEM subjects in schools will give girls a more open pathway into technical roles.

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