2017’s International Women’s Day challenged organisations to #BeBoldForChange and forge a better, more inclusive, working world. Tech giant Fujitsu drew on everywoman’s tailored resource pack to help bring about lasting change...
The everywomanNetwork offers thousands of career-enhancing digital materials to our members all over the world. To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, our L&D experts curated a #BeBoldForChange resource pack, enabling organisations to build an event with make-a-difference flair or add value to their existing plans.
Fujitsu Management Consultant Sarah Armstrong-Smith and co-chair of the Women’s Business Network shares how the tech firm used everywoman’s International Women’s Day pack to breathe fresh life into their women’s network, elevate more female role models across the organisation, and accelerate its gender diversity goals.
THE AMBITION: GROW THE FEMALE WORKFORCE BY 2020
Fujitsu has big ambitions for its female talent pipeline, both in terms of the number of women we’re looking to have across the workforce by 2020, and the particular milestones and accolades we intend to achieve along the way. Though we’re doing particularly well with our graduate scheme, achieving a 50/50 gender split in our recent intake, analysis of our overall split against our ambition to achieve 30%, showed that we needed to be bolder with our strategy. We need our women to be part of the solution, and it became apparent that our internal Gender Network would need to be re-energised in order to better serve remote workers, and to inspire our women with fresh content.
REBRANDING THE WOMEN’S NETWORK TO FOCUS ON FUTURE SUCCESS
In March 2017, our Gender Network rebranded as the Women’s Business Network and its strapline ‘The place where women come to work’ became ‘The place where women come to succeed’. This subtle difference really shone a light on what we wanted the new group to focus on and how learning and development through the everywomanNetwork played a part in that.
Core to our launch message on International Women’s Day was this idea that you don’t have to wait and ask permission to go on a training course, you can log into the everywomanNetwork and use the workbooks and webinars as and when you wish.
“When women are given access to quality learning and development, they are 42% more likely to be promoted.”
Retaining & Advancing Women In Business: A Model For Success, everywoman white paper, 2016
UNVEILING THE WOMEN’S BUSINESS NETWORK
A highlight of our launch event was everywoman’s video with our UK & Ireland Chairman, Michael Keegan, in which he discusses the importance of diversity. This was part of the #BeBoldForChange resource pack, available to multiple organisations taking part in International Women’s Day. This sent a powerful message to our own staff, who loved seeing someone within Fujitsu using such a powerful public statement to spread the message about the importance of gender diversity across the industry.
“It must be wrong that [the technology] sector has a low percentage of women and it must be incumbent on all leaders in this sector to do something about it, year by year by year until we get better.”
EXPLORING A NEW WAY OF THINKING ABOUT WORKPLACE ROLE MODELS
Both our Head of Networks and Telecoms and executive sponsor of the Women’s Business Network, Wendy Warham, and our CEO, Lucy Dimes took unconventional routes to their current positions – stories they shared at our International Women’s Day event. Lucy studied business management before falling into technology; Wendy freely admitted that she knew nothing about technology and didn’t attend university. It was really inspiring for people to see that you don’t have to know from school age what you want – you can be successful in a myriad of ways.
We’ve since taken an unusual step in how we position role models on our dedicated intranet site. The old format tended to be very career orientated, focussing on how someone went from point A to point B. We wanted to break down barriers by looking at the person behind the role. We call them ‘connect with’ profiles, because when you read that your role model has an obsession with shoes, or supports a particular football club, or loves cooking in their spare time, there’s an instant ice breaker if you happen to be with them in the lift. It’s all about making role models relatable, as well as showing that role models aren’t just those women right at the top of the organisation; you can find a role model in a woman who’s created a successful work/life balance, who juggles being a carer with a career, or who’s just returned from maternity leave. We want women across the business to be able to reach out and find examples of others who’ve made it work for them.
“Regular access to female role models in business is a major source of inspiration for 74% of women.”
CREATING CONVERSATIONS TO SPARK CHANGE
Our International Women’s Day activity has opened up the gender conversation and brought new perspectives to our on-going strategy. Feedback from our first and second year graduates, for example, is that our benefits package is great – something we’ll now make a much more concerted effort to build into our external and internal communications.
Another new initiative is a focus on enhancing our mentoring programme, specifically ensuring that we have the right balance of mentoring and sponsorship. We want to make sure that women with high potential are identified by executives, and that we’re pushing them to move forward. It’s all about supporting the next wave of the leadership team and ensuring the pipeline is there for the people who will make the organisation successful in the future.
There has also been a change in how we resource manage the Women’s Business Network to drive continued momentum. Other than our dedicated diversity and inclusion champion who sits within HR, the committee members all have day jobs. To spread the work across a range of skillsets and remain considerate of individuals’ time, we created groups in different categories such as intranet content, communications and event management. We also take care to reward these individuals for their input and make provisions for their development too. A few weeks after International Women’s Day, we invited everywoman to deliver a bespoke training day around the theme of leadership, enabling those dedicated committee members to pause for a moment and focus on their own personal development.
“Create opportunities for purposeful collaboration between all employees across your organisation and enable all women to unleash their potential."
THINKING BEYOND INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: A LONG-TERM STRATEGY FOR LASTING CHANGE
The first plan of action was to re-launch the Women’s Business Network internally and raise awareness around that. The success of this phase has accelerated our plan to open out the Women’s Business Network within six months. Already we’ve hosted Women In Retail and Women In Technology events, bringing in customers and partners. This has been made possible by the momentum we’ve created and all the social media interest it’s generated. We feel very encouraged that we’re on the right path with the right level of leadership support; but we know it’s a long-term strategy requiring cultural changes and enhancements to our processes and policies.
“Now is the time to #BeBoldForChange and defy predictions about when gender parity will be reached.”