Can a proactive approach boost female numbers?
Diversity & Inclusion Many organisations talk about wanting to achieve greater gender diversity within their organisation. CGI is on a journey to attract a good balance of women and men to ensure this becomes a reality in the UK and globally. Tara McGeehan, Senior Vice President for Energy, Utilities and Telecoms, tells us more.
Focussing on skills development to build a diverse business
CGI is the fifth largest independent information technology and business process services firm in the world. We have approximately 6,000 professionals in the UK and are committed to ensuring that women are attracted to the business. We recognise that it’s about hiring skills, which are not specific to gender, in order to implement our services, including high-end business and IT consulting, systems integration, application development, and IP-based services and solutions.
We want more women in the business and hope to achieve this by providing more opportunities around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at entry level to develop and retain a more diverse employee base. It’s not unrecognised, but it’s important to keep communicating that there aren’t enough women in STEM/IT right now. We are focussed on ensuring that we bring in the right numbers of females, as well as men, to fulfil this growing and much needed skillset.
As part of helping support greater gender equality within the workplace, we regularly visit schools in our local areas to talk about career opportunities within the IT sector.
It’s vital children understand what’s available to them at a young age and that gender doesn’t dictate their choices. We believe it’s important to spread the word about the great opportunities and longevity a career in IT can offer and to inspire a young generation.
In fact, a recent business initiative to help demonstrate what’s possible by way of an IT career and to help encourage greater female skills within the workplace includes ‘Bring your Daughter to Work Day’.
We hope that by showing young females what a career in IT has to offer will inspire them to make the right skills choices to make that happen.
Build opportunities for success
As part of focussing on our workplace diversity, we are concentrating on enhancing our sponsorships and support of women looking to return to a career in IT.
It can be hard to get back into work, let alone IT, after having a family. At CGI, we always look to recruit the best talent and that can come from a variety of places, including mothers returning to work. We place a lot of emphasis on training and development as a business, and part of building and maximising key skills includes encouraging and supporting great women through training and coaching. This goes a long way to building confidence when returning to work and getting up to speed with new tools and systems.
We offer coaching and skills-building sessions across the company to boost confidence in areas such as negotiating, networking and soft skills. And it’s important to state that this focus isn’t role specific, it’s applied to entry level jobs through to leadership positions. We also hold Future Focus sessions where we enable women to identify their next career steps and to begin to prepare for them. We have had to think more creatively around our resourcing and find new ways to encourage female development, including identifying roles that women can do on rotation due to family needs. This is also applicable to the men who work for us that also need to manage family life.
Helping our employees, male and female, to achieve a healthy work life balance is very important to us as an organisation. We offer flexible working hours and encourage managers to lead by example with a positive work balance that they would like to see for their teams.
We also have a commitment to improving wellbeing and mental health across the organisation for all employees. We want to build a creative and supportive environment for all to ensure that everyone has access to support to maximise their success in the business.
Finally, we have recently introduced unconscious bias awareness sessions for our leaders and are in the process of rolling this out across the wider business. We believe that a company culture that values the power of different opinions, perspectives and cultures will be more successful in creating the highest performing teams. This focus on diversity and inclusion is integral to how we deliver real value to our clients, develop our people and play a strong leadership role in our local communities.