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Sophie started as a weekend team member when she was at sixth form and is now an area manager
Sophie started as a weekend team member when she was at sixth form and is now an area manager

Baroness Berridge: A conversation with Greggs

Hear from the Minister for Women, Baroness Berridge, and some of the incredible women working at Greggs.

“I spoke last week with some of the passionate staff members at Greggs about women’s development opportunities and flexible working policies. ‘Opportunities are often attached to people’ which is why sponsorship of women, women’s networks and mentoring programmes are so valuable to an organisation.

The meeting between Greggs and Baroness Berridge over zoom

‘Presentee-ism’ makes it hard for women to progress, and the pandemic has provided an opportunity to work differently for both men and women: to juggle work and share caring responsibilities while making fewer compromises on time. Having clear and visible support for this from the top of an organisation is key and Roger Whiteside (CEO of Greggs) is clearly a great role model for Greggs.

This series is part of showcasing best practices, role modelling women, and most importantly sharing experiences, as part of our Women Build Back Better campaign.”

Hear from some of the women who work at Greggs:

Gillian (top left), Hannah (top right), Sophie (bottom left) and Leanne (bottom right)

How long have you been at Greggs?

Leanne: 7 and a half years. In Greggs language that means you’re still a newbie!

Hannah: 10 years.

Gillian: Oh gosh — 32 years!

Sophie: 14 years. That’s not much compared to some people!

What is your role?

Leanne: Procurement and supply!

Hannah: I am a category planning and wholesale manager. That means I’m responsible for the category strategy — all of our food strategies across the business. Looking after the menu on a daily basis.

Gillian: I’m head of retail, covering the North region — Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North East. I have a team of 22 regional and area managers, and I suppose my focus is all around my team’s development and driving the retail performance.

Sophie: My current role is an area manager. I love it. I manage 20 stores, so we have 20 store managers. It’s great seeing a difference in the stores when you put actions in place.

What has your journey been like?

Sophie: I’ve come from being a weekend team member to an area manager. When I was in sixth form I started with a weekend team member role in retail, and since then I’ve progressed through the company.

Greggs really grows people through the business, you get a lot of buy-in because you’re really part of the journey.

I understand how it works — I know how to make everything, how to coach people through problems in the shop. It gives you a lot of relatability within the shops, because they know you know what you’re talking about.

It’s been 9 years since I worked in the shop, but I can still do it because I’ve kept in touch with what’s happening on a daily basis.

Why is flexible working important to you?

Leanne: Before the pandemic, if there was something going on and I wanted to get it finished, I would have asked someone else to pick my little one up, so I didn’t really see much of him. The last year and a half that’s really changed, and I don’t want to go back. Greggs has really supported that. I can take him to school now, to after school clubs, and I’m much more productive working from home. The company wants to get the best out of you, and by changing the way you work, it can really help.

I’m very wary of talking about kids and women, because there’s a stereotype there, and I think the same should be said of any male as well — if a male parent wanted to have that flexibility, the company should be just as supportive as well.

Tell us about the Women’s Development Programme at Greggs:

Hannah: I was on the women’s development programme that the business set up in 2018/2019 to promote and encourage women across the business at different levels to take on more senior roles within the business.

Leanne: We were masters of our own destiny — we got to see about 50 women from across the business, people I wouldn’t engage with on a day to day basis.

We did have one session that was absolutely dedicated to mental health, mental wellbeing.

Whether it was because it was all women in there, maybe, it did feel like a really secure environment to share.

Gillian: The women on the programme actually planned and drove the programme ourselves, agreeing the agenda and what we wanted to talk about. It really empowered us and enabled us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone — whether it was networking with different people, speaking to them to get speakers along, developing content and learning materials.

Tell us about going to Peru:

Sophie: We sell FairTrade coffee at Greggs, so they sent a couple of us over to Peru to find out more about why we use FairTrade. We went over there for a week, into the heartland of where coffee is made and saw it from start to finish. We also visited a lot of the women’s projects over there, seeing how FairTrade has impacted women.

For someone like me who’s come from the shop as a weekend team member, you never expect to be going on a trip to Peru.

What is your favourite product?

Leanne: I do like a vegan sausage roll. Oh, and a Jammie heart biscuit, for a little bit of a pick me up/sugar rush in the afternoon.

Hannah: My favourite product is a Jammie heart biscuit. It’s a bit of an underdog but I love a biscuit and a cup of tea.

Gillian: Probably the cheese and ham toastie! It’s changed over the years. I used to be a huge cheese and onion bake fan.

Sophie: A milk chocolate cookie. (It’s freshly baked in store everyday!) There’s nothing better than a warm cookie.

Read more of our Women Build Back Better series at:

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A blog about the work of the UK Government Equality Hub and what government is doing to remove barriers to equality and help to build a fairer society for everyone.

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