As a values-driven organisation, IKEA is committed to reaching complete gender equality across its global business by 2020. At IKEA Bristol, the store has already achieved an equal proportion of male (49.5%) and female (50.5%) co-workers.
Louise, aged 39, started her career at IKEA Cardiff in 2003 as Deputy Checkout Manager. After progressing in her role to become Checkout Manager, Louise was ready to start a family and went on maternity leave in 2008.
Louise comments: “When I had my first son, I was concerned that being a new mum would limit my career opportunities. However, once I returned from maternity leave, I was able to continue in the same role on a part-time basis.
“I felt really supported by IKEA every step of the way and my managers were extremely understanding, ensuring I had a good work-life balance. This gave me the confidence that I’d be able to focus on my family while achieving my career ambitions at the same time.”
Louise felt assured that she could continue to grow her family while working at IKEA. She went on maternity leave again in 2010 and returned to the same part-time role. After taking time off work to look after her two children, Louise was eager to focus on advancing her development opportunities at IKEA. She began to re-examine processes in her department based on IKEA’s core values of simplicity and togetherness.
“As I was working less hours than before, I realised that we could be doing things differently, based on IKEA’s values, to deliver results more efficiently and effectively. Through this exercise, I was intrigued by the value of ‘togetherness’, as working as a team was key to achieving our goals.
“Focusing on this concept fuelled my passion for co-worker development, talent and succession. After discussing my personal development with my manager, I became a trainer for Checkout Managers across the whole of the UK, while also supporting on store projects,” said Louise.
Louise was offered the position and started her training programme at IKEA Bristol in September 2016. She said: “It was an incredible feeling to know that my manager believed in my ability as a leader. His support and encouragement enabled me to unleash my potential and find confidence to believe in myself.
“What’s more, I was inspired by other female leaders at IKEA who have shown that as a working mother, it’s possible to succeed in your career while supporting your family. With IKEA’s unique values, every co-worker is supported differently and has the freedom to be themselves, regardless of their background and needs.
“This International Women’s Day, I am forever grateful to IKEA for the opportunities that I’ve been offered, both in my professional and personal life, and I look forward to a bright future of becoming a Store Manager.”