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TGt Meets...Debbie Williams, director of John Williams Heating Services Ltd - IWD Special
By Debbie Williams, director of John Williams Heating Services Ltd, which is a family run heating and plumbing business, based in Chippenham, Wiltshire. Debbie works in partnership with her husband John.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge – what would you choose to challenge when it comes to gender equality or inequality this year?
I work in a very male dominated world, we have been in business since 2004, and in the early days at face to face networking events most people assumed I was John's PA!. This made me more determined to learn more about the whole heating and plumbing world, so that people soon realised I could hold my own, and discuss with confidence the most complicated of heating dilemmas- I get asked about this stuff a lot!, I think as time has gone on society are more accepting of women in male dominated professions, however there is still much more work to be done.
Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender?
Over the years people have become more accepting of a woman in this role, however occasionally with a potential new supplier they make the mistake of insisting they must speak to John, we even get the odd customer who refuses to deal with me “as you can’t possibly understand the technical details”.
What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business?
I think we can and do offer the same qualities and attributes as our male counterparts. I think we both can bring different elements to business that are not necessarily defined by gender.
Is gender important when it comes to success in business?
No, I think being an entrepreneur regardless of gender is important, knowing your why?, being determined, driven and committed to your dream.
Can you name any women in your organisation you admire?
Georgi Williams - our daughter and office manager. Her knowledge about our industry is incredible, she strives to learn every day, and is inspiring in her quest for knowledge. Nothing phases her and if she doesn’t know the answer she will research it until she does and more.
Fiona Scott of Scott Media who has worked with us for several years now. Her drive, enthusiasm, support and professionalism are priceless.
Karren Brady - she has made a massive impact on a male dominated profession and continues to inspire and encourage women everywhere.
Can you name up to three men in business you admire?
Cecil Duckworth (1937-2020) OBE, CBE. He started Worcester Engineering Company Ltd in 1962, and introduced the first combination boiler in 1970, the popularity of his new type of heating system saw his business expand rapidly, he sold the company to the Bosch Group in 1992, and the rest as they say is history.
John Williams- my husband, business partner and co director, his patience, drive, determination and technical knowledge is never ending, and he makes the best cheese and ham toastie!
Do you think women who start their own business experience more challenges than men?
Yes I do. I was President of Chippenham Chamber of Commerce for five years, and I spoke to lots of women who had started businesses, and felt that they had to really fight to get any support, financial or otherwise, as they were viewed as less serious particularly if they were working part time due to other commitments.
What do you think about the gender pay gap?
Gender pay gap reporting was suspended in 2020 due to Covid 19 and now Women in Advertising and Communications (Wacl) have called on the Government to reinstate this mandatory reporting. I think it is vital that this is reinstated as decades of work to close the gender pay gap is at stake if this flagship report is shelved.
For more information visit www.jwheating.co.uk
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