When I entered the funeral profession as a young girl of 15, no-one took me seriously and I was told repeatedly that it was no place for a female, especially a young one.
I had to offer to work for nothing so that I could train and went on to become the youngest qualified female funeral director in the country at that time.
I learned to keep my head down. Male colleagues often tried to get me in trouble and put my name forward to take the blame for any errors which happened in the workplace. When innuendo comments were made, I didn’t listen and never took it personally. It said more about them than it ever did about me. If anything, it gave me more resolve to work harder and to succeed. I had to be
tenacious sometimes to learn things or i would be left out. I learned to watch carefully what was going on and rise above the jibes. I started my own funeral company because no-one would employ me because I was a female – I was actually told that several times. My competitors threatened to take their business away from suppliers if they dealt with me.
How times have changed. There are now many females in key positions throughout the country in our profession and I am thrilled to have been amongst the pioneers – minus pith helmet and boots and selecting top hat and tails instead. It is wonderful that our profession has embraced women and I feel that we are now treated with equality and respect.
Perhaps to those who are trying to succeed in a male dominated environment –
- Don’t use your gender as a weapon.
- Keep the attitude of ‘Don’t look at my gender, look at my capabilities’.
- Always act professionally and nip anything in the bud that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Always be aware of how you present yourself or come across to others.
- Do not try and be a ‘power woman’.
Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in bereavement and grief recovery.She has recently published a new book How to Grieve Like a Champ is out 07 June 2018, priced £9.99. To find out more go to: http://www.champfunerals.com/
About the author
Lianna Champ knew that she wanted to be an undertaker from the age of nine.
She went on to become the youngest female qualified funeral director in the country at a time when the industry was predominantly male. Lianna faced considerable resistance in her early days – with local male competitors trying to prevent her from getting ahead by making it difficult for her to purchase supplies from coffin suppliers for example.
Despite this Lianna has had an incredibly successful career, bucking the trend and bringing a touch of much needed glamour and empathy to the industry. She has just published a new book How to grieve like a champ, which draws on over 40 years’ experience in funeral care and bereavement counselling.
Lianna has helped thousands of people through their grief – including working with victims of the Manchester terror attacks last year.