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Celebrating some of our female talent in Casual Dining Group

 
 

Welcome to Casual Dining Group’s Celebration of International Women’s Day 2020.   This site shares the inspiring stories of over 50 of our female leaders and managers across all areas of our business.   

I am proud to lead a Management Board team which mirrors the 50% female workforce split, and continue to lead our teams focusing on, developing & engaging our people, and continually growing our pipeline of female talent.   

At CDG, there is a seat at the table for everyone wherever they work. Take your place, share your experiences and let’s celebrate the differences we all bring every day #OneBigTable

#eachforequal


James Spragg

 CEO

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Feeling I have a voice that is listened to by everyone.  Having the role that I do, I feel very much enabled to make our company a place of equality for all groups.

How has CDG made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Being able to work flexibly during my children’s early years helped immensely and I was never held back with development because I was a mother.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Being a role model and driving our equality agenda across all levels within our business.  I’m extremely passionate about mentoring both males and females which creates a real balance in our company.

Claire Clarke 

Group HR Director

 

Jennifer Read, Director of Commercial Finance

Location:  Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  

Having the confidence and support to speak up, share my perspective and influence colleagues/team mates/stakeholders. Also helping others (male or female!) to do the same.


How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Provided many opportunities for me to step up to new responsibilities and learn on the job. Management have been very generous with their time spent coaching me through new challenges. 

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Lead by example in how we provide flexibility and support to differing needs within the Finance team, particularly around returning parents.

I would also like to drive a review of CDG’s policies relating to maternity and paternity leave and the accepted approaches with new parents returning to work.

Lisa Gibbons, Brand Director - Bella Italia

Location:  National but lots of time in the office lately!

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being an equal and enabled woman means I can be strong, vocal, opinionated and have my voice heard.  It also means I can be a role model to other women and offer support to them in their careers.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG has supported me and my development for the last 8 years and I’ll always be grateful for that.   I spent a lot of my career thinking I needed to behave in a certain way to succeed  or not talk about my family as this could be seen as a weakness.  CDG allowed me to just be me, gave me the space to be natural and grow as a leader – and of course has promoted me 3 times! CDG has also given me the opportunity to have an external mentor who supports me and pushes me in a completely non biased way.  I can share my inner thoughts / doubts and worries without being judged!

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I would love to be part of a mentor programme within CDG that could help women like me who doubt themselves really stretch their careers as far as they can go.  I am also very passionate about promoting the flexible working opportunities that this sector offers everyone from mums returning to work, to people who are looking after elderly relatives.   

 

Julie McEwan, Brand Operations Director

Location:  Las Iguanas

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It means CDG are taking the importance of “Women in Hospitality” serious – I HAVE A VOICE! I feel valued as an individual and guess what?, the CDG board has an equal 50/50 split of men / women, which in previous organisations was simply unheard of! FACT!

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Simple, by believing in my ability to lead a brand, whilst encouraging authenticity, so I can be “me”, be myself to make decisions that can influence not just my brand, but across CDG.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Awareness will always play a huge part for us all and in Las Iguanas we are a family and our aim will be to collectively all play our part, be more inclusive and support each other, every day in every way!

Sarah Pope, Chief Information Officer

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:   Being valued for what I am able to contribute and deliver for the business, whilst at the same time remaining true to myself. In the technology arena there has been a slow, gradual increase in the visibility of women in key tech roles, so being able to help represent that in the hospitality industry has been a great opportunity and continues to be something that drives my passion for improving, learning and increasing standards, levels of service and efficiencies. Its also been key to have the equality and opportunities actually visible in action during my career history, so not just experienced as ‘empty words’ or static corporate vision statements. Being part of an organisation that demonstrates genuine company behaviours and attitudes towards women’s careers, is important to me and now that I am in a position that can lead and support women effectively in the attributes they can bring to roles and business challenges, it’s another empowering aspect that drives me on each day.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I joined CDG 8 months ago and my role has enabled me to lead in tackling a number of changes and by personal example, develop new standards and practices in the technology team. Having the support, trust and empowerment to make the right challenges, to begin a number of transformation journey’s and to discover the ideas and talent pool within our own organisation, has made a fulfilling experience to date. The days of breaking down the walls of a ‘boys club’ in the boardroom is not something that I have faced at CDG and it was refreshing on my first week to be sat in the executive team meeting with a 50:50 split of women to men. There’s still not many companies that can mention that, so it’s a fabulous example to be demonstrating from the top, the culture of inclusion and equality that can continue to feed down to all levels of the CDG family!

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I am representing the Leadership team, mentoring and supporting initiatives which enable the equilibrium in opportunities and behaviours for women in CDG and the wider technology industry. I am fortunate now in my past experiences to hopefully inspire more women to aim for the top roles, or to help them explore or develop their careers in technology and so mentoring is something I am hoping to devote more time to as part of that inner passion.  Above all its for me to keep demonstrating through determination, fairness, integrity and empowerment, that everyone has a ‘place at the table’ and anything that prevents that from progressing needs to be always addressed appropriately.

 

Candy-Ann Jones, Deputy Manager

Location: La Salle Heathrow Airport

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you: Being myself and demonstrating that I am able to excel and specialise in results with the support and respect of my peers. Whilst treating everyone with fairness and respect as well recognising the needs all. It is about acknowledging the future generations and being an example.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop: Over the 17 years CDG has provide all the support and relevant training, experience and opportunities that helped me to grow and develop within the business to role that i am immensely proud of.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  By creating an inclusive culture for all my staff. Ensuring equal opportunities withing site and being fair.  Lead by example and strive to achieve goals as a team effort and recognising everyones' efforts and contributions.

Regan Johnson, General Manager

Location: Las Iguanas Cardiff Mill Lane

What does being a strong, empowered woman meas to you:  Being an equal woman means that I can be a part of a generation of powerful woman able to shape the future on younger generations and help other women achieve their own aspirations and promote a positive change.

How has CDG made it easier for you to grow and develop: I started in Las iguanas 4 years ago as a Deputy, I am now the General manager of a top 10 site! Being part of this company means you are part of a family. There is endless support from every person you encounter. We are a union of individual groups all moving towards the same goal and you can’t help but want to be a driving force within that!

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  By creating an inclusive culture for all my staff. Ensuring equal opportunities withing site and being fair.

 

Abi Claire Carkett, General Manager

Location: Bella Italia Plymouth Barbican

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you: Knowing that I am not judged unfairly due to my sex, having already overcome many adversities in my 23 years including open heart surgery. My aspirations to become a GM by 21 achieved through hard work and dedication. I value and favour every member of my team equally, they each have a responsibility and role to play in our success regardless of whether they are male or female.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop: 

During my time with CDG I have learned so much. The standards in place give a clear expectation for everyone, I myself have found this at times difficult to achieve. I have had to engage in honest self-reflection and work through my weaknesses yet also maximise my strengths to achieve the best possible outcome in every situation.

The relationship I have built up with my Operations Manager has pushed me to exceed what I thought I was capable off, and I am still hungry to learn more.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  It is highly important to me that I build and maintain a strong relationship with all of my team members in order to support them reach every success they are aiming for in their life, inside and outside of work. 

Malika Laimouche, Head Chef

Location: La Salle Heathrow Airport

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Passionate about my job, and make me serious about what I do to enable me to deliver the best that I can on an equal level with my colleagues.

How has CDG made it easier for you to grow and develop: I started CDG as a Commis Chef, without any Kitchen knowledge or experience, I was a teacher in Algeria with poor English. CDG helped me to use English and let me find something I have a passion in, cooking and delivering the best quality of food to guests.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  When I interview I always look for people with the same passion as myself, whether experience or not I always give chances to people to develop themselves and become like myself.

 

Leanne Davies, Operations Manager Concessions

Location: Field Based

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you: Being an equal and enabled woman means being the truest version of myself, no matter my audience.  No subconscious thinking, no contrived performances, just me doing me.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop: 

This year I celebrate 10 years with the company and am extremely grateful to the great leaders I have worked with who have supported my desire and passion to succeed.  I have been nurtured and guided to realise my best potential and never manipulated to be anything other than myself (sometimes I’m asked to turn the volume down).

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I am creating an environment of equality, simply by saying yes.  Yes to each and every person that wants the best for themselves and/or their business.  Yes to people who want to try the unknown, yes to people who want to push boundaries and take considered risks and whilst those people are all equal, that doesn’t mean they are the same 

Megan Lewis-Thomas, Head of Food Development & Marketing - Concessions, Franchising & New Concepts

Location: London

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It means I can have the confidence to challenge senior male figures within my team and know they will respect my opinion. It means I can have the confidence to ask for help when I need it, without fear of being perceived as weak.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Its allowed me to progress in my team and the wider business.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Try and challenge the old boys club that plagues businesses. Become a strong, powerful women who helps other women progress and develop. I want to teach the women in my team and girls in my life that you don’t need to be competitive with one another just because there’s a limited amount of women in senior roles. Collaborating and helping each other succeed is much more effective. We’ve got to work together to reverse the assumption that women don’t support each. I also want to teach my niece that she can be anything she wants in life and has as much chance to succeed as her brother and cousins.

 

Stacy Chappell, People Operations Manager

Location: Bristol

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you: Being given the same opportunities, responsibilities and respect as anyone else therefore allowing me to achieve my goals and potential.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop: CDG enables everyone to learn, develop and grow by encouraging us all to be get involved and push ourselves in an supported environment. I feel particularly grateful working in a part time capacity after returning from maternity leave to still be able to get ‘stuck’ in with projects and have opportunities for me to grow and develop.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual: Be respectful to everyone. I always remember a teacher saying to the class at school “put yourself in other people’s shoes’.. I have carried this motto into my adult life and always think how others would feel when doing something. This creates respect and in turn means I am treating everyone equally and how I wish to be treated.

Mini Vivek, Senior Restaurant Manager

Location: Heathrow Airport

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  For me the word Equal & Enabled woman means being a Bold & Confident woman who is not afraid to be herself and is not judged by her appearance but Respected for what she represents. Someone who inspires and encourages wherever she goes and whatever she does. 

How has CDG made it easier for you to grow and develop: CDG has helped me build and progress my career. Since I joined the company back in 2010 as an assistant manager I have been given all the support and encouragement that helped me push my boundaries and made me reach for higher goals. I have truly felt the love, the challenge and the encouragement of a family in this company and I have always had help & guidance whenever I needed it. I continue to shape my future and my career within CDG and I have had the pleasure of being supported by some great coaches and great  leaders who have not only helped me realise what I am capable of achieving but also inspired me to go further every time. Training, tools, coaching, resources have all been made available towards my progression and it has been a very important reason for my loyalty as most companies out there are not so committed to making you feel like a part of them but just another number.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  

* Being fair and consistent in my approach to all aspects of my job role. 

* Help give equal opportunity to people 

* ensure I do not let my personal emotions/ assumptions affect my decision making 

* Encourage teamwork and respect. A culture of “treat others how you wish to be treated”

* Support and encourage career development 

 

Alexandru Cornelia Larisa, Sous chef

Location: Cardiff, Mermaid Quay

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you: Being a woman means so many things. We are capable of more than we know. We are strong, beautiful, honest, caring and so much more. There's no end to what we can achieve as we continue to gain equal rights with our males counterparts. Dream big, work hard, stay positive and continue to inspire women all around the world, whatever you are doing.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop: 

They had faith in my, they offered me the opportunity and knowledge to develop and learn so many thing's in my job to get where I am now.

I had all the support and motivation from all the beautiful people in our lovely community.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I do treat everyone fairly.  I help people to develop their full potential.  I ensure that i create an inclusive culture for everyone around me.  I do speak up if I see behaviours that could exclude my  colleagues

Emma Dixon, Senior Operations Manager

Location: Field Based – North West

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you: As a very value driven person, equality and balance is particularly important to me. I believe in strengths and opportunities of an individual and a character not of a gender. Being an equal and enabled woman means that I am comfortable in my ability to be the best version of me. I believe everyone should be authentic and true to themselves, try to be self-aware and just try to do something every day to be a better person than yesterday, whoever you are. We can all talk about being equal and an enabled however to me it’s important to feel it. I think when you feel that you are enabled and you feel equality it builds trust, loyalty and strong foundations for great relationships.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I strive to see each and every person as an individual, irrespective of gender, in every situation. It sounds cliché but I genuinely try to play to people’s strengths and empower them and enable them to be the best version of themselves. When it comes to people, there is nothing off limits and no boundaries. In my area we work in a transparent manner with the mantra ‘one team’ at the core of everything we do. I encourage my team to work collaboratively and recognise each other’s progress. You don’t have to be the best to be recognised, you just have to be moving in the right direction

How has CDG made it easier for you to grow and develop: Aged 16 having finished school with not the greatest grades and no clue what I wanted to do with my life I started as a bartender with Bella Italia. It would have been easy to write off a younger me quite quickly. Fast forward 20 years and here I am. CDG has empowered me and enabled me to undertake multiple development opportunities, has provided several training and development programmes and has always allowed me to be me. I am both lucky and proud to have worked for / alongside some very inspirational leaders, many of whom have been strong, influential women who have inspired me to work hard and push for more. Over the years I have worked with many people and seen many people move on to pastures new, I feel incredibly fortunate that whenever I have got to the ‘what next’ stage in my career where I may look to move, a new opportunity has always arisen within CDG. To know that I am now able to be a part of that process for others is incredible – there really is no better feeling than seeing the potential in someone and supporting them to unlock it.

 

Charlene Gregory, Head Chef

Location: Bella Italia Chester

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you: Being a career driven woman in a same sex marriage raising two little girls, equal opportunities means more to me than most. To be able to provide for my family in a way that every individual should have the opportunity to do so and to show my girls that they are able to achieve all of their goals and dreams because they are determined and strong individuals living in a society that recognises them as equal to the next person regardless of their gender is the single most important thing for me as a woman and a mother!

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop: CDG has helped me to grow and develop by recognising my abilities and potential. Surrounded by so many strong, influential, women doing so well in the company encourages me to push myself and aspire to do the same.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I believe in my role as a Head Chef I provide equal opportunities by recognising each individuals strengths and weaknesses and investing my time and effort in to each member of my team regardless of background, gender, race, orientation. We are all so different but we are all one team with the exact same aim.

Sammii Shutler, Head Chef / Assistant Manager

Location:  Café Rouge Longleat

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  All of my working career I have always worked with such strong male influencers, however I have always felt part of a team and have always had the support and guidance to become a strong independent woman. The catering industry is such a difficult industry to get into. It’s long hours and can be very demanding.  Being a single mum of 2 and trying to juggle home and work, trying to find that balance can be tough however when you have such immense support it makes it a lot easier. Equality and Diversity has never been an issue within my career, especially where CDG are concerned. 

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  As I briefly touched upon, CDG have always encouraged my career. I am so very fortunate to have such a strong, supportive management team around me. I started with the company as a CDP as progressed to Head Chef within 5 months, as my GM at the time had such belief in me. I feel that since then, the support and encouragement I have received is remarkable. I have always had a passion for the catering industry, and it’ll always be my passion, but to be given the chance to progress further through the ranks, and step into the position as assistant manager, with the incredible support from our deputy GM, GM and area manager is incredible. I feel that my knowledge of the industry is only strengthening more and more.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I feel that the environment that we all work in within CDG is such a positive one. Everyone supports everyone, we all encourage one another to do everything to the best of our ability, regardless of our age, gender etc. This is something that I will continue to encourage as it is such an important aspect of our lives, our jobs and our future.

 

Anchel Chandra, Head of Management Accounting

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Women and men working together to ensure we all have the same rights and opportunities and especially for women to understand and enable each other in our personal and professional lives so we can all succeed together (there’s enough room for all of us!)  

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Enhanced by skills on a personal and professional level and the opportunity to work with other great women

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Trying to enhance the skill set of my team to enable them in their personal and professional lives and to encourage them as much as possible.   

Joanne Kerby, PA & Comms Manager

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Taking pride in working as hard and long as any other person, male or female. 

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG gives me the opportunity to work a full time, satisfying role, without hindering being a mum to 2 little ones and enjoying family life.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Giving all a chance to do the role they love to do, regardless of gender, or anything else.

 

Jamie Ratcliffe, Assistant Manager

Location:  Bella Italia, Ashton

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  To me this means being the ideal role model to my daughter, through breaking barriers put onto from myself and others and shining in the face of adversity. I am in control of my own future through my own passion, dedication and self discipline. Equality to me is having no predispositions based on race, gender , sexual orientation but more on how they treat me and others around me in and increasingly more diverse world.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG has helped me break down my own personal barriers, and I have become more driven in my own aspirations. I can take this mindset into all aspects of my life, raising my daughter and becoming the best version of me I can become.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Creating an environment of equality in the work place to me is easy, people have to just have the right mindset and not see each other with any labels put onto us by society. But as equal human beings all having our unique personalities to that make us human.

Gillian Delaney Harris, Waiting team member/events manager

Location:  Cafe Rouge St Albans

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Feeling I have and can build on a fairer world to live in

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Working for a company that has allowed my ongoing personal development and plenty of opportunities.  There is a wonderful company culture of feedback, recognition and rewards.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I acknowledge the strength and weaknesses of my fellow team members regardless of their gender.  I try to be kind and supportive at all times.

 

Renata Orzeszko, Head Chef

Location:  Bella Italia Windsor

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  To be strong and positive every day.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  To be a head chef at CDG make me a leader of my team.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Have it open mind for possibilities.

Alejandra Perez Mora, General Manager

Location:  Las Iguanas Wembley

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you

Being an equal and enabled woman means to me that I am capable to use my own voice to empower others to create positive changes. Have the same opportunities as men as all humans and enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities, and protections.  For me, equality means treating everyone with fairness and respect, and recognising the needs of individuals.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop: CDG has given me the opportunity to grow and develop my potential as a General Manager through the years and create positive changes within our team, being capable to run one of the most successful sites in London – Wembley for over 6 years is a truly great achievement.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I treat my team as equal regardless of age, gender, sexuality, religion or race I also provide equal chances of development, promotions and inclusion in decision-making processes creating an Equal Opportunity Policy for all.

 
 

Jo Lynch, Head of Local Sales and Marketing – Bella Italia and Café Rouge

Location: Field Based

What being an equal and enabled woman means to you:  To me it means treating everyone with respect and recognition of their individual needs. Giving everyone the opportunities they deserve and aspire to, so they can develop their potential too. I hope my teenage daughter will look at me and my achievements – both at work and externally – and be inspired to follow and realise her dreams too.

How CDG has helped you to grow and develop:  By giving me the opportunity to aim to develop and aim to fulfil my potential, on an ongoing basis – through an internal support network at all levels, and also through access to an external industry mentoring scheme for women in hospitality. This has been really valuable to me.


What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  By taking part in International Women’s Day I would hope that my comments and commitment would reach my friends, family and colleagues past and present, to show them why enabling an equal society – not just for gender, but for all forms of equality such as race, disability, sexuality and religion  – is a positive step for the world as a whole.

Naomi Page, People Operations Manager

Location: Support Centre Field Based

What being an equal and enabled woman means to you:  For me, it means having the freedom to be your true self, recognising and embracing diversity, using my voice to empower others to create positive change and inspire our sisters to achieve their aspirations.

How CDG has helped you to grow and develop:  CDG has helped me tremendously in supporting with the development of my career to my current position of People Operations Manager and be involved in WIHTL mentoring programmes.  It is also so empowering to see so many of our Senior Leaders being female across CDG.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I think in order to inspire change we need to do this through education. We need to provide everyone with the tools they need to understand the benefits of gender equality. 

 

Sophie Phillips, General Manager

Location: Las Iguanas Chelmsford

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It’s always nice to know I am judged based on my ability and not my sex, to know I have an equal opportunity for development and progression just as much as my peers.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I have been given many opportunities over the last 13 years which has helped to grow and develop, not just in management, but also within other areas, locations and departments too.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Ensure everyone is given the same opportunity, create a safe and trusting environment for all the team.

Dee Modi, Product Manager

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being a strong and empowered means that I am confident and strong within myself which in turn enables me to inspire and promote positive change that will help all individuals to achieve their aspirations and goals. 

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG has given me the flexibility to manage work home life balance so that I can ensure that I can give my everything to all aspects of my life whether I am in the office or at home.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I work with a great team of people that are at the top of their game, they are collaborative and fun to work with which creates an environment that makes you want to achieve and strive for the best.

 

Kayleigh Scott, General Manager

Location: Concessions

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being an equal and enabled woman in 2020 means being able to stand toe to toe with men with confidence and belief in the value i add to the workplace and society.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  

I took a big risk risk 2 years ago and took a step down from my role as General Manager to join CDG as an Assistant Manager with the goal of becoming a General Manager and i haven't looked back since. From day one my Operations Manager has nurtured and supported me in my personal development and that journey has taken me from trainee AM to General Manager to now being enrolled on the Senior Management programme. The greatest thing about working for CDG is I truly believe that we all want the best for everyone and we will set aside our differences to support each other. 


I am so glad I took that risk because CDG has become my family and I feel incredibly fortunate to work within a company where development opportunities are available for all regardless of gender, ethnicity or religious beliefs. 

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  We all need a helping hand every now and then and my hand is always available without prejudice whether it be friends, family, work colleagues or strangers. In a world full of cynicism I only hope that by displaying random acts of kindness I can inspire others to do the same. It is only through kindness that we can break down the barriers and bring about a truly equal environment for all.

Hayley Leake, General Counsel

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being an equal and enabled person, with every opportunity and without barriers.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I joined CDG with two children under two, from a (very male-dominated) employer who wouldn’t  consider the idea of not working 40 hours in the office. CDG has offered an opportunity to continue my career in a fun and friendly environment with an employer that embraces flexibility and diversity.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Supporting and promoting all colleagues; promoting flexibility for whatever or no reason (not just kids!). I also mentor young female law students and hope to open their eyes to less traditional career paths in industries such as hospitality. Setting the tone for the next gen!

 

Rachel Preston, General Manager

Location: Las Iguanas Derby

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being an equal and enabled woman to me means empowering others through positive support and encouraging people to be the best versions of themselves. It means being part of a community that encourages us to rise by lifting others and to celebrate that success.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I have been extremely fortunate during my career to work with people who have enabled both my personal growth and professional development. Support and guidance coupled with my own determination and drive have been key to my success within the hospitality industry. CDG have nurtured my career and curiosity through project-scoping, shared knowledge and continual feedback. I am proud to work for an organisation that encourages my creativity, challenges my talents and that has endorsed my desire to continue with my Masters studies at University.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I endeavour to create an environment that enables my team to nurture their talents and allows them freedom of expression, whether through work related events or personal projects, creating a space of positivity, acceptance and appreciation. Opportunities are available to everyone who has the desire to achieve and I strive to make them accessible to all by challenging stereotypes.

Marta  Karolina Ostrowska, General Manager

Location: Bella Italia St Martin’s Lane

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Equal woman means being included in the decision-making process, being able to voice a woman’s perspective and participate in designing the working environment that works for both men and women. Women’s needs can often be different, therefore involving women in planning, listening to them and giving them opportunity to present women’s interests is crucial. Being equally remunerated to men is key and there is still a lot to be done in this area.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I was given a lot of autonomy to run the business, which gave me wings.  As a part of the management team, I knew I was listened to and I could always count on the support. We work in a highly demanding environment and one needs a support network. I also appreciate all the training I had.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Creating an environment of equality should be embedded in the culture of the company. Creating the environment that values individual contribution regardless of gender. In my day to day job, I focus on individual performances; I encourage open discussion and collaboration. I listen carefully and refrain from judgments. Accountability, transparency, and equality are all very important to me.

 

Jiajia Smith, Head of Campaigns & Design

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  For me, equality means treating everyone with fairness and respect, and give them the opportunity to grow and fulfil their potential.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG's given me a great creative platform and freedom to advance my marketing and design skill, which allow me to express and develop fresh new ideas, and enhance my professional skills. Working with a group of passionate and talented colleagues have also inspired me with love and optimistic toward life.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  

  • Bring different culture of talented woman to our design team, as everyone deserve a opportunity to learn and develop their skills

  • Inclusion really matters to my team - I bring our design to the start of the project meeting, which give us the time for strategic thinking, planning and problem solving

  • Professional training course – I offer my team with online and offline train courses for new skills

  • Celebrating success outside of office

  • Sharing my professional knowledge

  • Show compassion and support

Sarah Fox, General Manager

Location: Las Iguanas Norwich

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  I don’t see any difference as I am not treated any differently due to gender. I am recognised for achievements as an equal.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG makes me realise my potential, I am not judged on my gender just the hard work I put in and the results I achieve. CDG enable me to flourish in both my professional and business life which I am grateful for.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I employ team on credentials not gender. My team are diverse and each have a voice and their own personality which I strive to ensure happens.

 

Claire Hussey, Risk & Compliance Director

Location: Field Based - North West England

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Having a clear career goal, being confident in the skills I can bring to a role. Achieving a family / work life balance.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG given me the freedom to use my technical skills and training to protect the business and drive standards forward. Opportunity to use people management skills gained in previous roles and utilise in current role.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Equal opportunity for promotion in the technical arena based solely on capability, experience and knowledge. Creating a network of strong, like-minded people who I can mentor and develop in technical roles.

Charlotte Cranswick, General Manager

Location: Bella Italia Bolton

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It promotes a sense of purpose and independence to me and makes me feel confident and ambitious.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG have helped me grow from being a teenager to now a woman who loves running a business, through coaching me, empowering me and believing in me. I want to continue to grow and develop and I know CDG will continue to help me do this.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I ensure that all my team have the same access and opportunities within the restaurant, I make work life balance a priority to my team and for my team. I have a diverse team and promote gender equality.

 

Vanesa Virgili, General Manager

Location: Las Iguanas Reading

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Freedom. Have the chance to express myself, contribute to building a better and healthier work environment. It means that I can help others to achieve their goals, support them in anything they need.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I started in the company as a runner 9 years ago, that says it all. I was given all the support and tools necessary to grow not only professionally but also as a person, gaining abilities that have shaped the ways I deal with different situations in everyday life, outside work as well. When I first arrived to the country I thought it was going to be extremely difficult for me to achieve anything; it wasn’t easy, but I was lucky to find a job in this company.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  As the head of the restaurant it is important to understand that everyone has a saying, no matter what position they are, they all play their part to make our job easier and better. It is key to listen to what the team has to say, give them the chance to input ideas, make them feel part of our achievements, work WITH them.

Jaci Fletcher , Head of Marketing

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Getting respect regardless of gender, no matter what your role is!

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Giving me the opportunity as Head of Marketing for Rouge.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Taking everyone’s opinion on board regardless of gender, position or background.

 

Jocelyn (Joss) Mostert, Marketing Director – Bella

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Having a voice and it being heard in equal measure to male colleagues. Feeling empowered and working in a ‘safe’ environment where your point of view and voice matters. Being recognised, rewarded and paid equally to male colleagues.  A business environment where female career paths, opportunities and futures are equally inspiring, available and accessible.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  N/A (too soon to say as only in my 4th week)

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  For me, it is important to be the cheerleader for ladies in my team and in the business. I’m passionate about creating a stage and platforms for other ladies to shine. Lifting ladies up when they feel they can’t do it for themselves. Hopefully inspiring other ladies that you can have both a successful career and be a good wife, mom , daughter, friend etc. (We wear many hats as ladies!)

Hannah Sale, General Manager

Location: Café Rouge Salford Quays

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  To have the same opportunities, same pay and the same respect as anyone else.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I’ve been with the company for 13.5 years starting out as a food runner, bartender, waitress, supervisor, assistant manager and now currently GM. CDG has given me the opportunity to progress, learn new skills and develop not only in a professional sense but personally as well.

 

Beth Sturmey, Deputy Manager

Location: Temple Street – Birmingham

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  

To me it means being as powerful as a man, in any kind of management position.  People will always assume the manager to be a man when in fact it’s 2020 it can be a women. I used to get frustrated when dealing with a difficult customers when they would ask to speak to the manager and I would reply you’re speaking to one. In general I would get the “look” as if to say you can’t be the manager, you’re a women.


Therefore, to change the minds of those who don’t see women as equals, women must be given exactly the same opportunity and recognition as males in the work place and in life and not be deprived or substituted when opportunities of progression come up.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Since working for CDG I have been given the same opportunities as my male colleagues and have never been discriminated against because of my gender in what is seen as a male role. I come from a pub background, I worked for 5 years in the same pub working my way up to management, from a shy 16 year old glass collector to now 8 years on a confident Deputy manager.


I joined Las Iguanas which is part of the CDG group when I was 20 in October 2017, I had never managed a restaurant before. I could of  confidently shown you how to change a barrel of beer, but putting me on the host station on a busy Saturday night I had no idea what to do and would become overwhelmed. It has now been 2 years and 4 months since I joined Las Iguanas and I can now tell you confidentially, I manage the host station on most Saturday nights taking up to £20K, thanks to the amazing training and support given by all the Las Iguanas family.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I am now showing the next generation of women that you can be a female in a top position of a company. I keep telling them to not let their gender hold them back, as this was something I experienced from a young age in the industry.


 I have lots of female role models around me within my family and work life, they all show me in their individual way how they are ‘owning' it and making their voices heard in their everyday life.


The world is changing and it’s heading in the right direction for women.

Maddelena Connor, General Manager

Location: North

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  The opportunity to grow and develop as everyone else is able to do. My training and focus is guided by my senior managers and they give me encouragement and focus every single day!

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Giving me the trust and the freedom to figure out how i can develop at my own pace. The guidance from senior managers and the feedback in order to ensure I remain on the right track to success.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Everyone is treated fairly, there is nothing I would ask that I would not do myself. 

 

Kayleigh Jessop, Head Chef

Location: Bella Italia Southend

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It means that I feel just as valued and supported as a man does. I deserve the money that I work hard for and I am just as respected as a man and by men for the job role that I have.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG have showed me the support and given me confidence where needed, especially my recently appointed G/M. She has had a lot of faith in me from the beginning. CDG have provided me with the means to step forward and up from a Commis chef to Head Chef in the space of 2 years, seeing the potential I had and pushing it upon me to succeed in my goals.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Being a woman in a typically viewed male-dominated role fills me with confidence and pride, especially as within my site there was also another female passed for the role of H/C.  Together with a dominated female team we stuck together and supported each other where support was needed.  Noticing our team is of mostly females I sat and spoke with the G/M and we discussed that we feel we need to have more males within the site. We have recently employed a Male P/T Pot Wash and Bartender.  We promote and celebrate all special days around the year, this includes L.G.B.T & Pride, international men's day & women's and everything else to celebrate the difference in people that makes us all equal.

Caroline Harvey,General Manager

Location: Las Iguanas Newcastle Grey Street

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It means having all of the same opportunities to further my career, and being respected and treated as an equal amongst my peers.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG has allowed me to further my career in many ways but most of all in the part of the business that I love . . . training. I come out of site once a week and work on projects which will hopefully inspire others to further their own development.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I cascade my own values in site and ensure that every single person in the building feels respected and valued, as well as offering development opportunities to anyone who shows the willingness to learn.

 

Bozena Giemzik, Head Chef

Location: Bella Italia Cornerhouse Nottingham

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  For me it means I have a choice about how I want to live my life. I successfully reconcile work and family life. Becoming a mother 3 years ago didn’t stop me from progressing my career. Being treated equal and having the same rights as men put me in a position where I could achieve my goals.  Women should not compromise on equal treatment or accept being prisoners of outdated stereotypes. Together we can make world equal for everyone. Celebrating women’s achievements in political, economical, social culture which is needed years after they struggled for equality. 

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  CDG made me feel a valued employee from first day. I was given good training, daily coaching and support when I joined the company. I enjoy my work and I am part of an excellent management team. We constantly cherish and challenge each other for better results. Last month we became a Training Academy. 

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I treat my staff and colleagues equally - always give them the same opportunities, they are never disadvantaged at work and follow a diversity plan. Good working atmosphere and respect make people feel positive about work and they are more committed to it.

Malgorzata Ferreria, Manager

Location: Cafe Rouge Espom

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  For me to be an equal and enabled woman means treating everyone with fairness and respect especially recognising the needs of individuals.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I’ve worked for CDG for the past 11 years  and during all this time I received plenty of training and guidance.  I started as a runner  and now for the past 5 years as a manager.  For all my progress in  CDG they have provide me with all my training and refresher courses too

 

Leanne Hedges, Operations Manager

Location: Field Based

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Having my opinions and my voice heard and respected within my work and out of work. Being given the opportunities to progress and develop in my role. Allowed to be individual & respected for that.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I was given the opportunity to progress in my career and develop in my role, in a company where it is clear that women are given  equal opportunities. There appear to be no boundaries and the possibilities are endless.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Support everyone to develop and progress as they wish. Ensure they are fully knowledgeable about the opportunities that are out there. Listen to others opinions, ideas and needs. Offer advice and give feedback when needed in the right way. Create an open forum culture and make everyone feel comfortable enough to be involved.

Johanna P Rojas E, General Manager

Location: Las Iguanas Basingstoke

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Having the same opportunities to develop my professional and personal skills as anyone else and being able to give the same opportunities to the people I work with.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  The company has given me the space to be able to being heard. As I grew professionally and personally I have been given the chance to express my opinion, to initiate and support change. Within the company I have had the chance to work with so many very people that have helped me develop my skills professionally and personally. It has been a bumpy and challenging way but I have learnt how to become a better leader every day.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  In my role within the company I have the opportunity to create change within my workspace, I have had the opportunity to show my team that no matter their background that they always have the opportunity to be heard and put their ideas forward. 

 

Elli Margat, Head Chef

Location:  Bella Italia Southend

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Financial independence, providing a safe and
secure home for my family. To be considered for a position regardless of being a woman and a mother.  Being a leader is something that’s everyone's
right. It’s a burning desire to live with purpose and make an impact. To have the determination to paint a vision and succeed in my career and personal life.

How has CDG made it easier for you to grow and develop: I have done an apprenticeship Level 3 in Supervisory Management through CDG and recently stepped up as Head Chef. All learning has been supported by CDG and done while working.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Have more confidence in myself because I am able to any job regardless of my gender and accepting help and support when offered.

Melissa Davis, Head of Attraction and Recruitment

Location:  Las Iguanas HO – Bristol

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being an equal and enabled woman means that I have had access to the same opportunities to grow and establish my career. It is to encourage other woman to feel empowered in their careers and feel that there are no limitations on where they can go.  

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I am proud to work in an environment that encourages and enables  woman to grow, develop and innovate their careers. Personally I have been encouraged by the inspiring woman I work with to develop and grow my career. As an ambitious woman there has been no limitations on how to  develop myself personally and professionally.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I encourage my colleagues and team to push themselves to grow in their roles and to not be afraid to explore opportunities for growth within our business.

 

Amanda Henderson, Senior Recruitment Business Partner

Location:  A field-based Midlander

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  

  • Knowing I operate from a respected platform where my opinions and equal in importance to others

  • Being enabled to be the best that I can be, rather than working within a very rigid structure

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  

  • Financing my Level 7 CIPD

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  

  • Constantly challenge myself and others for subconscious bias during the recruitment process

  • Being open-minded and thinking beyond a person’s CV

  • Actively trying to bring people into the conversation on projects and in meetings?

Angela Da Silva, Head of People Operations

Location:  Las Iguanas Head Office, Bristol

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  What being an equal and enabled woman means to you: It means not having to worry about being treated differently and gives me the freedom to focus on getting the job (whatever job) done to the best of my ability. It means setting an example to the leaders of the future. 

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I have had the opportunity to get involved in broad and exciting projects which have helped me grow and develop. I am also given the autonomy to make decisions and the space to make and learn from my mistakes.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  To not be led by and also question my unconscious bias!

 

Ula Sobiech, Head of Central HR & Reward

Location: Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It means women can enjoy the same rights, resources, opportunities and protections.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I have been working for CDG for about 17 years. I started as a waitress in Bella Italia when I first moved to the UK. The Company helped me progress into management, recruitment and finally into the HR field. They continued to offer support throughout my years here, allowing me to complete my HR qualifications and progress to where I am now.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  

·     treating everyone fairly and equally.

·     creating an inclusive culture for everyone I work with

·     ensuring equal access to opportunities to enable my team to develop to their full potential.

·     Setting clear rules in regards to how people should be treated.

·     Challenging any negative attitudes and  stereotypes.

·     treating everyone fairly and equally.

·     creating an inclusive culture for everyone I work with

·     ensuring equal access to opportunities to enable my team to develop to their full potential.

·     Setting clear rules in regards to how people should be treated.

·     Challenging any negative attitudes and  stereotypes.

Cristina Andrighetti Formaggini, Head of Apprenticeships & Internal Development

Location: Field based

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It comes from inside. Stealing Oprah’s words…“Being able to define the world in your own terms, refusing to abide by the judgment of others”. This applies to all fields of life. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Let’s start from within!

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  I have always felt extremely supported and I am proud to work in an environment that embraces differences of all kinds.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  In life and at work in particular, I do not see differences…all it matters is excellence, results, common sense and a good heart.  As part of the HR team, I would love to see a stronger promotion of the Shared Parental Leaves opportunity. A larger embracement of this option could be a game-changer leading towards equal rights for women in the work environment. While promoting shared parental leave within CDG culture, we would also influence our employees’ family culture.

 

Nina Widdicombe, Head of Recruitment and Attraction

Location: Field Based

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being an equal and enabled woman means there are no limits, I can literally achieve anything.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Having worked for CDG for just under 5 years I have progressed from a Recruitment Manager to a Head of Talent and now a Head of Recruitment. To have gained significant experience across both the L & D and recruitment functions in such a short space of time has had a huge impact on both my personal and professional development.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  That’s simple – I treat everyone fairly. It is important for my team and I to ensure everyone has equal access to job opportunities enabling them to reach their full potential.

Demi van der Venter, Head of Learning & Development

Location:  Nationwide

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  It means that women are given the same opportunities and have the chance to grow and develop their potential.  

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  

I have been with CDG for almost 20 years! I started as a part time runner in one of the restaurants whilst I was in University and fell in love with hospitality.  I have worked hard and at the same time I was given every opportunity to grow and develop further, first in Operations and then in the Learning and Development team.  I am now in a position where I can support the growth and development of all our people within CDG.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  

  • Ensuring that development opportunities are offered at all levels in the business

  • Celebrating everyone’s achievements

  • Challenging gender stereotypes and bias

 

Christina Placidi, Head of Learning and Development (Las Iguanas)

Location:  Euston

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  That every person is given the same opportunities in all aspects of their life, personally and professionally, with no restrictions. To have the self-belief and confidence that you are in charge of all decisions and the direction you choose your life to take in order for you to fulfil your potential.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  By being offered career and personal development opportunities throughout my employment.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  Promote this more and help others to have the self-belief that they have this right and can achieve this. Be a role model

Gemma Boulding, Head of Attraction & Recruitment

Location:  Field based

What does being a strong, empowered woman mean to you:  Being given the same opportunities as everyone else. To be supported in longer term career goals without prejudice and to be treated as an equal.

How has CDG has made it easier for you to grow and develop:  Throughout my 10 years at Las Iguanas and latterly with CDG I have been given various opportunities for development. Having started my career journey setting up our incentive programme, the role quickly grew, and engagement and motivation of the restaurant teams became my priority. After leading Las Iguanas’ first Sunday Times Top 100 Best places to work project, I expressed an interest in learning a new part of the business. I was very much supported in my desires to further develop and was given the autonomy to develop a consequently run a recruitment strategy. The company has supported me hugely with my own personal development and helped me carve a path for my future career.

What you are doing (or could you do) to create an environment of equality #eachforEqual:  I am fortunate enough to work for a company who consciously try to promote an environment of equality. There are regular company wide initiatives surrounding equality and it has formed an important part of the companies DNA

 
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