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‘Compassion and kindness are two of our most valued qualities, regardless of gender’

MORE women are working in the funeral services sector today than only a decade ago, taking on front line roles such as drivers, bearers and embalmers.

Many companies have changed the way they work in order to welcome a new type of employee, one looking for part-time or flexible roles. The change means the industry is also attracting people looking to change careers or those who now require a part-time position to fit in with family and other commitments.

The result is a workforce with different skill sets and experiences.

  • Pictured above: (from left) Laura Howard, Karen Turner, Phillipa Smith, Shantelle Racca, Alison Bailey, Melissa Hamblin, Tamara Thompson

The trend is being reflected at regional funeral services company Neville Funerals. It now has the ability to present an all-female funeral team for the very first time, an indication of the shift in team make-up. Director Charmian Alexander pictured left says it is a by-product of the company’s open recruitment policy.

“Compassion and kindness are two of our most valued qualities when it comes to looking for new team members, regardless of gender. We understand that the shift towards a truly balanced workforce is not just about hiring more women team members but about upward mobility and ensuring that opportunities are open to anyone based on their suitability for the role, regardless of any other factor that has historically contributed to workplace bias.”

The pandemic enabled Neville Funerals, like thousands of other businesses, to take stock and review their business, planning ahead for the post-pandemic years. “It opened up a much wider conversation about how we work and how we can evolve workplace culture,” says Charmian. “While fully remote working is not really an option for most of our team, it is seen as far more acceptable to have roles that are fluid with more flexible working roles available.”

The current status quo reminds her of her early days working in the industry. “In the early 2000s people were often surprised to see me arrive in a private ambulance to bring people into our care as there was a perception that women within our industry work in the offices arranging the funerals and the men carry the coffins.

“It is wonderful to see that, as a result of our changing workforce, we are now able to offer a completely female team for the first time. There are still improvements that need to be made across the industry but I am proud to work for a business that prides itself on being inclusive while tackling stereotypes and offering rewarding career options for all potential candidates.”

Neville Funerals is a dedicated equal opportunities employer. It is a member of the equality register Committed2Equality, an organisation designed to enable businesses to reach their potential and demonstrate diverse working practices.


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