Published: 14 March 2019
In the Summer of 2017, I started to plan how we could increase the percentage of females in our leadership team within Sagittarius – I wanted to see more women on the Board, more women being thought leaders in the industry and more women supporting the Women in Tech movement. We are a growing digital agency, a highly technology-focused business with the classic split of male developers and females in support type roles.
I went out on the road. Attending events, seminars and round table discussions on equality, the gender pay gap, gender bias in AI, diversity and inclusion, sexual discrimination in the workplace… I really did the rounds.
What I found within our own company did not surprise me. We didn’t have a gender pay gap, my adverts and job descriptions ran fine through gender bias checkers, my hiring managers didn’t display any bias - unconscious or otherwise at interview. So I looked to data – and it all became clear… We just didn’t get enough female developers applying. The reason for this? Not enough female devs on IT courses through school and at University and therefore not enough female devs out there in the marketplace. If they are not there – we can’t recruit them.
I needed a new strategy.
Along came “Women in Tech” – ah ha! I said – here is a gong I can bang. So by the summer of 2018 I was actively promoting Women in Tech events within the business – getting the women in our teams to blog, self-promote, go to seminars, go out and talk – I hosted some internal educational events promoting “Women in Tech” eventually the chaps (and the women) in the office started to groan as soon as I mentioned Women in Tech – the thing was …I genuinely think that we have a level playing field and equality in the company that they really didn’t see it was an issue for them.
I was happy that this was my problem – but I still had no strategy for getting more women on our leadership team and eventually onto our board. Then I heard Sarah Rench (EY) talk about exactly this at a round table event, a strong inspirational woman in a highly technical role, clearly at the top of her game and she offered to help anyone interested enough to ask. So I did. A couple of weeks later my MD and I had a couple of hours with her over coffee and she spoke passionately about the determination she had displayed on her journey, but also the help she had received along the way from remarkable mentors. She gave us the idea of a mentoring programme for our women to accelerate their development and promote themselves internally and externally.
It was a real light bulb moment.
We have just launched a companywide mentoring programme – not just for the females but for everyone – this idea was just too good. There are so many benefits for mentoring – both personally and for the business – driving your own personal development, broadening your horizons, quality advice and guidance, innovation and looking at challenges with our business and industry from a completely different perspective.
Some of our mentors are inside our business – and some are from different sectors and industries altogether – it’s like having a big, diverse board of non-exec directors at your fingertips. We have produced a structured programme – with workbooks that include how to find and select a mentor, the structure and agreements required for meetings, how to set out the clear guidelines and parameters of the mentoring agreement.
We are actively promoting and supporting the programme internally, however, this is driven by our employees – they want to participate – they are finding mentors, setting up meetings and sharing their successes. I have researched and put real time and effort into designing the programme and producing some guidelines (in the workbook) for them, however, the joy of this is seeing it just taking off on its own .. and the best bit… some of the women involved have got some really awesome mentors ...I can’t wait to see the outcomes of this.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” - Benjamin Disraeli