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International Women’s Day 2021 – ‘Choose to Challenge’

PSA President Paul Griffiths talks about the importance of 'challenge' as part of this year's International Women's Day:

‘Choose to Challenge’.  This is a call to action that sits at the heart of any learning organisation with a commitment to driving positive change.
Positive challenge is not about being deliberately problematic, argumentative or confrontational, it’s about questioning to help make improvements.

Our behaviours and perceptions linked to gender are crucial here, and as an association this is central to our valuing difference drive.

I am a proud ally of our network groups, and our association leads work supporting positive change and equal representation across the Service. 

Our members are the senior operational leaders in policing. Just 26.7% are female and we are acutely aware of the imbalance here when it comes to representation at our rank.  

A third of our National Executive Committee (NEC), our association’s policy-making body, are female and we also have permanent places within this key forum for representatives of each protected characteristic to ensure we are fully sighted on the challenges and issues facing every demographic within our workforce.

This is part of our long-term commitment to ‘challenge’ and I am proud to say that this is backed up with tangible action.

The national coaching and mentoring scheme we set up in 2018 to provide bespoke support to people from under-represented groups has helped hundreds of colleagues to date, with 61% of these beneficiaries identifying as female. The College of Policing has now taken over this crucial work, to ensure it becomes part of the ongoing national offering to our workforce.

We have long fought for flexibility and recognition for serving officers with caring responsibilities and have continually asked the Government to define the working hours of superintendents, to enable members with a real need to go part-time or work more flexibly, without getting penalised by their pension or pay. Statistics show that the majority of those with these caring responsibilities are female and in April 2020, after lengthy negotiations by the PSA, the Home Secretary agreed changes to regulations, providing flexible working opportunities for the superintending ranks.

I am proud of the difference our association has made but I will never stop ‘choosing to challenge’. That is a commitment I firmly believe we all should make.