National Inclusion Week 2023: One year of Women@SGN

26 Sep 2023
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An mature woman in SGN PPE holding a mug while talking to someone, next to the National Inclusion Week logo

As part of National Inclusion Week 2023, we’re hearing from the chairs of our three colleague networks about how they’re taking action and making an impact for the people we work with.

Today, we’re hearing from Helen Peile, Chair of Women@SGN.


Women@SGN is fast approaching its first birthday and I’m really pleased with what we have managed to achieve so far. I’m looking forward to another successful year helping change SGN for the better, and not just for our female colleagues – it’s important to acknowledge positive change should benefit all of our workforce.

As preparation for National Inclusion Week, our network put a call out to our women to share their experiences working for SGN. It’s a male-dominated business with only 800 women working across the whole company. I’m very happy that over a quarter of us (264) took the time to contribute to our survey, with a good split of responses across Scotland/Southern Operations and from women in non-operational areas.

We saw some positive results in that most women felt comfortable expressing their ideas in meetings or discussions, and around 70% had not felt they had been affected by gender bias. Some people admitted past experiences had not been great, but they felt improvements had been made and were now happy.

Some women shared specific negative experiences which have been shared with our Executive team and as a result, they’re looking to move forward with a new campaign to raise awareness and some leadership training to combat bias.

Personally, I believe that what we really need to do is always try to act as an ally to our colleagues. Don’t be afraid to challenge and support each other. Stand up for other people and call it out. If someone does challenge you, see it as a learning opportunity to understand other viewpoints and don’t take offence or be embarrassed to be challenged. Not one of us is perfect, but as long as we commit to learning and try to be the best we can be, I have great hopes for us all going forward.

It’s very satisfying to feel that you can have a positive impact on someone finding a way through their career journey.

I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the survey and we’ll be referring to the results to help shape the focus for Women@SGN going into the future.