Throughout March, we are celebrating International Women’s Day by sharing the stories of inspiring women whom we have worked with over the last few years.

Kim Caplin has enjoyed an illustrious career, beginning her career in secondary schools as a teacher, before progressing through several senior roles in colleges across London and leading Westminster Kingsway College within the Capital City College Group as their Principal.

She now uses her time in a non-executive capacity as Chair of the Board at Stratford School Academy and Southwark College and as an advisory member on the board of a training company, while also leading on gaining charitable status for her community choir, where she is now the company secretary.

How do you Inspire Inclusion in your work and life?

It is important to consistently think about whether you have the right mix of people on board. Not only do you need the full range of skills, but you need a group of people that reflect the community you serve.

Creating an environment where all are valued for their contribution and providing a good learning culture is crucial. I enjoy both working and living in a diverse community as you are always exposed to new ideas.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in leadership positions today?

I think the cost of childcare still must be one of the biggest barriers to women either returning or progressing in their career. It is disappointing that we seem to have moved on so little since my two children were young.

The pressure on women to still be the caregiver pulls on the heartstrings and you can constantly feel guilty even if logically you know you shouldn’t.

More support within the workplace is still needed, alongside building networks to assist and encourage.

Have you faced any obstacles or resistance as a woman in a leadership position, and if so, how did you overcome them?

There are many obstacles! I think one of the ways to overcome this is to think logically and not be afraid to ask for advice and support from those you can trust.

We often feel alone with our concerns, but using the experiences of others really helps. Realising you are not alone is an important first step.

What is the most noticeable win for gender equality you’ve witnessed throughout your career?

Changes to maternity leave to include shared paternity leave.

What advice would you give to other women aspiring to leadership roles in the third sector?

Don’t give up. It is a great career, and you really can look back to see the contribution you made to the lives of others and how they have also shaped yours.

Despite difficulties, you make a difference to other women following in your place. As I was told once when feeling particularly overwhelmed, “if you give up, who is going to make the changes needed for the future?”

It can be a lot to take on, but now with two daughters in the workforce, I understand what she meant.

How do you use decision-making power to foster a culture of inclusivity?

I try to get to know all of the members of the board using one-to-one meetings. This allows you to explore what interests and skills they have and areas they would like to develop.

I actively try to include people where I know they are interested in the topic or have experience in the area.

Do you advocate for gender equality and inclusivity outside of your professional role?

I volunteer at Moorfields Hospital as a hand holder for those having eye operations, where we encourage patients to share their concerns and worries with the staff.

Many women worry about the recovery period as they are the principal carers but sometimes don’t have the confidence to ask surgeons. Supporting them to ask can make a big difference to their lives.

Did you have any role models or mentors who have helped you on your professional journey?

Yes, someone in a senior role to me encouraged me to not be afraid to ask for what I needed as it was not a sign of weakness.

She pointed out that men do this and it is seen as a sign of leadership – it is our gender that makes the difference in how we are perceived.

Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?

You are not alone. There is help out there. Stick with it as it is worth it in the long run!

Eddie Caveziel Cox is Peridot’s Managing Consultant of Schools, MATs and Educational Charities Appointments. Having delivered hundreds of senior leadership and non-executive appointments into education providers, Eddie is an expert in finding leaders who make a tangible impact on communities. You can connect with him on Linkedin or send him an email to learn more.