Reflections on joining WISH Scotland’s Board

WISH Scotland is playing an active role in supporting women to shine in their housing careers, says Nicola Douglas, Account Director at Hough Bellis Communications and newly appointed WISH Scotland Board member

I caught the housing bug about 15 years ago when I cut my teeth in the busy Shelter Scotland press office in my first proper communications job.

Ever since then, I have passionately believed no one should be without a safe place to call home.

My relatively short time there showed me first-hand what it meant if you didn’t have that safety net that most of us take for granted. It also impressed on me the crucial role social housing providers play in society.

I have held communications roles in a housing association, the third sector and local government since then – but that understanding that home is the foundation of everything has always stayed with me.

Fast forward to the present and I’m now a working mum of two children with a long-term health condition, Crohn’s Disease, that has its ups and downs.

Over the past six years I’ve gone from being a freelancer at Hough Bellis Communications to Account Director and becoming part of the leadership team.

I’m really proud of the work we do at Hough Bellis to create great communications for projects that improve people’s lives.

My career here has, in part, been made possible by the supportive, flexible working culture we’ve had in place since long before COVID-19 hit.

Everyone, no matter their parenting or caring responsibilities or disability, should have the opportunity to thrive in their career.

But more widely in society, the reality is that women still face barriers to career progression that men do not, and that was what inspired me to join the Board at WISH Scotland.

While positive progress has been made over the years, women are still underrepresented in leadership roles in businesses globally and in the housing sector.

This is in part because the burden of childcare and caring responsibilities, still largely falls to women. A recent study from the Centre for Progressive Policy found this “disproportionately impacts women and exacerbates workplace inequality”.

Yet, including women in decision-making processes at the top table is better for business. Women bring different perspectives and skills to bear. A study by McKinsey & Company, supports this assertion – their research found organisations with greater gender diversity in their executive team are more likely to be profitable.

In the famous words of one of my favourite authors Jane Austen, in the novel Sense & Sensibility – “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”

Employers across the housing sector need to take steps to address workplace inequality and create an environment where women can break that glass ceiling.

While this won’t happen overnight, starting that journey is so important. This is a deep-rooted issue where unconscious biases that we may not be aware of are having a negative impact.

Being open to acknowledging and addressing these biases is a crucial step towards building a culture of equality.

Women of all ages and backgrounds should have equal opportunities to fly in their careers. WISH Scotland is here to champion women working in housing and together we can challenge the barriers to true gender equality in the workplace.

Housing presents a multitude of brilliant career opportunities for women in roles making a positive impact on people’s lives. We need to shout about these, especially to the next generation.

By providing a supportive membership network and a range of events and learning opportunities with inspiring speakers, we are supporting women across Scotland to progress and shine in their housing careers.

As WISH Scotland marks its first anniversary later this month, I am proud to be a part of that.

Visit WISH Scotland for more information here.


Nicola Douglas
Account Director
Mob: +44 (0)7759 835244