Opinion piece – Carly Graham is Vodafone’s Head of Enterprise Solutions & Service Design. This Thursday marks International Women’s Day here in Aotearoa. But in 2018, more than any other year, it’s about so much more than just one day.
Here at Vodafone we’ll be spending the week celebrating the women who work here – there’ll be regional awards for those who have inspired others and promoted diversity. There are also special events for our women in technology and business, and opportunities to network.
The Vodafone Foundation has opened up a special collection at offices across the country for sanitary products in conjunction with our community partner Lifewise. Too many young girls are missing school because they don’t have the money for these vital products – and too many women are missing work opportunities for the same reason.
And so Vodafone’s International Women’s Week is vital. But we believe that it’s about so much more than five days of events.
That’s why today we are launching a concerted strategy to do more. In New Zealand there are worryingly low levels of representation of women in technology companies. As one of them, it’s time for us to take a stand.
In 2018 the national standard is 21% representation of women in technology. At Vodafone we sit slightly above that at just over 22%. But that’s no way near good enough, so we want to do all we can to encourage and develop women in technology.
We’re aiming to be the best employer of women by 2025, and we know we’re not going to get there just by doing the same things we’ve always done.
That’s why we’re going to continue on with our #CodeLikeaGirl programme. For the first time late last year we took more than a dozen girls from high schools around Auckland, and in just four days with mentors and training, taught them the coding to be able to build a website.
Now that doesn’t mean they’re all set for a job as the next Steve Jobs. But we hope that that experience helps them realise they can do technology jobs just as well as anyone else. That science, and maths and IT don’t have to be the sole domain of men. And with that we hope that the doors open to considering a future in technology, where there are a number of high-paying roles.
We also run a two-year Discover Graduate programme, which this year has 78 graduates fresh out of university working at Vodafone. 51% of our graduates in this programme are women.
51% is a deliberate choice on our part. That allows us to foster young women, encourage them, and if we do it right, grow the female leadership at Vodafone.
You may be thinking, ok, well it’s all very well getting young women into the building – but what are you doing to actually keep them?.
Long story short, we are working hard to retain and promote them. Our parental leave policy, and our ReConnect programme (for those who’ve taken a longer career break) means you are paid for 40 hours a week while you work 30 for your first six months.
We want to have programmes and support in place for every stage of your life.
We believe employers today need to get real to ensure women can be at their best at work. We know it’s really hard if it’s your morning to do drop off or pick up from child care. We understand that when flu season hits sometimes it feels like it just keeps rolling on forever through your family.
When we say we do flexible working we mean it. For many of us, if we are in jobs where our physical presence isn’t a necessity to getting the job done that does mean days where you can work from home. Sitting at the kitchen table. Putting the washing on in between answering emails.
If you’re a man reading this, you’re probably thinking what about me? If so, thanks for asking and reading thus far!
The great thing about all of the amazing things we do is that they are open to men to take advantage of as well. That means men can take on an equal role at home – picking up the kids, getting dinners ready and doing the washing, and just as importantly supporting their partners to really drive their careers. We believe there’s a role for everyone.
So here at Vodafone we’ll be celebrating this week. Because it’s important to mark our successes – but we know it’s just as important to work on the things that still need fixing. 2018. Year of the Women. Please join us.