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How to be a leading woman: ‘being a mother actually drives me harder’

Jade Wilcox, Managing Director at Wilcox Limousines, a British family-run coachbuilder of more than 70 years, shares her experiences of leadership within the funeral sector, traditionally a male-dominated industry

It was never my intention to be a leading woman within a male-dominated industry, however, when the recent opportunity arose to front the family business as managing director, I relished the opportunity with no concerns that my sex would impact my ability to do the job. 

At Wilcox Limousines, we are firm believers that diligence and passion are the key ingredients for an individual's success and gender has no bearing over potential — something I am looking to emulate on a daily basis.

I can now confidently say that since taking on my new role, which I have held since June 2020, I have felt very little pushback, and have in fact felt very welcomed within the sector. I do, however, believe the funeral industry is missing a trick by not encouraging more diversity across the board, especially as the world becomes more complex and in need of greater diversity in both thinking and attitudes.

I am also a firm believer that role models are essential when it comes to dismantling stereotypes. If younger people don’t see and experience people similar to them doing a variety of roles, they can’t ever envision themselves replicating that success — which will ultimately cause the industry to miss out on prospective talent.

Sadly, I do think that some people place unconscious limits on a woman’s ability – even I do. When I think of a leader, I think of a big brash man who shouts at people to get things done. But to be a good leader you mostly need to collaborate and get the best out of the team around you — something that is irrespective of an individual’s gender.

Throughout my career, I have learned to dismantle these limitations and prove to myself time and time again that anything is possible when you apply the right mindset. Society has been guilty of expecting less from women, particularly if they decide to become a mother. For me, being a mother with young children actually drives me harder, and the need to clothe, house and care for them forms a strong part of how I want them to view me as a role model.

Changes in society and social mobility after the Second World War offered my grandfather the opportunity to build the business I now run, so I am passionate about not restricting or underestimating someone’s ability just because of the circumstance of their birth.

During my career, there have been a few people who appeared to have treated me differently because I am a woman — particularly talking over me or explaining simple things to me as if I wouldn’t understand, but I refuse to let this dictate my worth.

I am a strong believer that women are an asset to the funeral profession and we should all work together to encourage more young women to join professions that supply and support the sector. They make up 52 per cent of the population, so why not take full advantage of that vast talent pool?

About Wilcox Limousines

Wilcox Limousines is run by second and third generation family members and employs more than 150 staff in two locations in Wigan and Northampton. The brand is widely recognised for its constantly innovative designs, creative flair and years of experience producing first-class vehicles.

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