Debbie Atherton, Progress Housing Group's Deputy Executive Director and Company Secretary Progress Housing Group writes for International Women's Day

I have been a longstanding employee of Progress - I'm in my 20th year, so I feel like part of the furniture!

I am responsible for the Group's Finance and Governance arrangements. This can mean anything from production of the statutory accounts, management of over £250 million loan facilities to working closely with our Board and committee members to ensure effective governance arrangements are in place. I am a member of the Executive Team of five, with a female Chief Executive steering our ship.

I have had the pleasure of spending my whole career in social housing finance, from starting out at Places for People as a Finance Assistant to gaining my finance qualifications and joining Progress in 2001 as Group Finance Manager.

I absolutely love working in the social housing sector, particularly as my childhood home was a council house in Lancashire. I feel incredibly proud that my team and I make valued contributions to support our customers.

Provision of financing to help maintain existing homes and provide new homes is the bedrock to this delivery and I am proud to be working in a sector that works hard to address inequality both in the workplace and in communities.

Being part of Progress is so important to me - we really do live our values; Expert, Genuine, People Focused, Forward-thinking, and Collaborative.

Working in the housing sector can be challenging at times due to the wide range of external factors we need to manage. Working in the sector as a woman however is extremely positive due to the similar approaches across the sector where diversity in all forms is a key focus. Because of this, I've never felt hindered in my role or progression due to my gender.