Commercial laundries commit to re-balancing the gender and racial ratios

“The numbers speak for themselves – in commercial laundries, on the shop floor, the gender balance is 50:50.  At board level it’s 80:20, in favour of men,” says Emma Andersson, membership manager of the Textile Services Association (TSA), which represents commercial laundries.  “The race ratio figures also are being reviewed and we expect to see a similar imbalance.”

The TSA is launching a series of initiatives designed to help re-balance the industry, to get more women and BAME employees into management and board positions.  The association has established a Diversity and Inclusion working group.  Its vision is to change the face of the industry, pushing a more diverse and inclusive approach, where balanced leadership is the new norm.  Andersson is taking a leading role in the initiative.  “By educating and empowering individuals we can create an environment where everyone can thrive.” 

The TSA is backing its concept with action.  At a recent Diversity and Inclusion workshop, attended by directors and managers representing commercial laundries across the UK, a series of tools and strategies were discussed that could be initiated within their own organisations.   The workshop was led by the CBI’s head of diversity and inclusion, Adeife Onwuzulike.  Areas that were considered included what language to use, unconscious bias, data collection, and the need for leaders to engage in and encourage the process. 

“Over 70% of the industry was represented at the workshop and the feedback has been 100% positive,” says Andersson.  “I am delighted that members are on board with the initiative and acknowledge the action that needs to be taken.”

Rebecca Morgan is head of HR at Johnson’s Hotel Linen and is on the TSA’s Women in the Industry Group.  She says, “We at Johnsons Hotel Linen are proud to support the TSA’s project groups on Women in the Industry and Diversity and Inclusion.  The TSA has recognised that, as an industry, we need to promote and encourage representation across all levels of the business.  We are keen to fully support the Association on this journey.”

In other moves, the TSA signed up to the CBI’s ‘Change the Race Ratio’ back in November 2020.  Now the association is undertaking an industry survey to get a proper understanding of the situation.  Once that’s analysed, TSA will be using the information to focus on areas where a positive change can be achieved. 

At the upcoming TSA Conferences and events there will be more focus on a diverse  guest speaker programme, and profiles of successful inclusion stories will be shared.  There will also be a drive to get women and BAME employees to attend, as well as a campaign to encourage them to take part in training courses to advance their careers and personal development. 

“We have to acknowledge that there is work to be done here,” says Andersson.  “These are the first steps on a long journey.  But we are moving in the right direction.” 

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