Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021. Each year there is a new theme and for 2021 this is “choose to challenge”.
It got me thinking about what this means and I realised that a challenged world is an alert world, and from that challenge can come real and meaningful change.
What does it mean in practice?
Some of the topics that will be discussed during IWD 2021 include:
• A gender equal world
• Celebrating women’s achievements
• Raising awareness against bias
• Taking action for equality.
All of these issues are still required in so many countries and companies.
We’ve made great progress but more is needed.
What if you are lucky enough to work at a company that treats these issues seriously and has a progressive culture that fosters an environment where it is doing them quite well too? Do you pat yourself on the back and mark it off as done?
I work at a company that I have to say is doing amazing things in these areas.
One of the first things I came across when I started working at Computacenter is the ‘Growing Together’ programme. This was created with to retain and advance female talent in middle to senior-level roles.
This is about action. It is not good enough just to identify the problem, make some suggestions and then nothing really changes as happens at many organisations. A company needs to put a programme in place to make sure the change can take place and have an on-going impact.
This programme is all about ensuring that women feel supported, can grow within the company and are mentored to help them continue their careers should they wish to.
Computacenter also has many diversity and inclusivity programmes. It is not down to a single person to manage this activity. It is actually the responsibility of everyone and every team. Employees are encouraged from all areas of the business to help take this role on.
In effect it is run by the people that want to see change happen. This doesn’t feel like a management activity but a people activity. The saying ‘People Matter’ is not just an exercise in branding but something that is part of the DNA of the company.
I’m proud to say that in addition to Computacenter recognising the achievements of the female members of staff that work for the company, they also sponsor a range of events such as the CRN Women in Channel awards, Women in Tech festival, FDM everywoman in Technology awards just to name a few.
Women are also recognised alongside their male counterparts at internal awards ceremonies. Externally, Computacenter recognises female talent across the organisation and nominates them for various awards every year.
In 2020 Julie O’Hara, Group Delivery Director was named Woman of the Year at the CRN Women in Channel awards. What an amazing achievement and very well deserved it was too. This has inspired other females working at Computacenter but it also means we have a good role model, at an Executive level at the company.
Challenging the future talent pool
What about the future females and males that will enter the workforce in 2 years or even in 10 years? I have been working with Computacenter’s Future Talent programme that focuses on the next generation of employees whilst they are still in education.
The number and type of events that Computacenter is involved with is impressive. It is helping to empower the future talent pool, giving them opportunities and visibility into what careers in the IT industry can look like as well as show the pathway to different roles and how skills can be transferable.
So, with all this in mind and the great things we are doing why are we still choosing to challenge? Quite simply we cannot afford to stand still and there is always room to do more. For an IT company it is important that gender bias is removed, the stigma attached to the typical IT employee is changed and that we continue to educate.
It is vital that we choose to challenge our friends, family, colleagues and others around us.
During my career in IT, I have frequently faced gender bias, and I was not always strong enough to speak up for myself, but I had amazing work colleagues who did this for me.
Therefore, the commitment made by management, colleagues and the leadership teams at a company really do matter. Everyone needs help and support at some time.
An inclusive culture impacts on loyalty
When I started working at Computacenter, I got introduced to a lot of people that had worked here for a long time. Five years of service, ten or even 20 years is not unusual.
I began to wonder why people stayed for so long at one company. However, when I saw how the company treats everyone equally, operates on a meritocracy but is also supportive of women in the workplace, then I really do understand why people choose to develop their long-term career at Computacenter.