Empowering women through self defence
Employee wellness continues to be a rising priority for Sigma. When thinking about employee wellness, personal safety training may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, because of the many mental, emotional and physical benefits it provides, we believe self-defence training falls squarely within the employee wellness scope.
When SHEQ Advisor Sonia Jamieson joined Sigma in October 2022, she noticed that there were a few female employees working across the company’s sites, which are located on industrial parks. In each case, the nearest public transport was a few minutes’ walk away.
Sonia has worked with Blossom Training and Development, a West Yorkshire-based self-defence organisation, for several years. Realising that her female colleagues could benefit from self-defence training, she invited HR Business Partner (Rachael Bennett) to one of Blossom’s free community courses to show her what it was all about. Recognising the many potential benefits of providing self-defence training, a decision was made to incorporate it into our employee wellness initiatives.
Our partnership with Blossom forms part of our aim to create an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace. While our industry is still largely male led, we believe that women possess an invaluable skillset which can greatly contribute to the sector. By teaming up with Blossom, we hope to not only empower our female employees by equipping them with essential personal safety skills, but also to establish the male-dominated industry in which we operate as safe and welcoming to women.
Working with the Blossom team, we hosted our first self-defence workshop in Bradford on 30th March. The event, which covered legislation and the law, communication techniques, as well as confidence-building defensive skills and methods for repelling physical threats, was attended by 17 women.
Other than the primary benefit of teaching female employees how to avoid, deal with and/or physically defend themselves against a physical attack, the training was aimed at helping them build confidence, boost their self-esteem, and foster a greater sense of leadership presence. Following the overwhelmingly positive response from those who attended, we plan to host similar sessions across various other sites in the coming months.
Additionally, as part of our commitment to supporting a diverse workforce, our goal is to educate all staff on how to foster a nurturing and encouraging environment in which women can feel safe. As such, our partnership with Blossom is not only focused on our female employees; we also plan to offer all male employees an opportunity to attend Blossom’s two-hour Ally Workshop, which is aimed at educating men about the dangers women face, and how they can help make a difference.
At Sigma, we understand that employee wellness and related corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are not a secondary part of doing business, but an essential and integral part of it, which is why we attempt to not only incorporate it into our strategy and day-to-day conduct, but also why we partner with organisations like Blossom.
The training and development organisation, which was launched in 2017, offers both self-defence and fitness classes. Funds raised from its corporate training sessions enable the team to offer free community courses across Wakefield, Castleford, Normanton, Knottingley, Ossett, Leeds, and Bradford. They were recently recognised with an award for Creating Safe Spaces for Young Communities in Wakefield. To learn more about Blossom’s services, visit https://blossom-uk.co.uk/
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