DiversiTeam: redressing the gender balance in the IT industry

by Florence Mary - Solution Building Engineer
| minute read

Once again, research by McKinsey & Company confirms what many of us have intuitively known all along: that diversity in the workplace does indeed matter. And that there is a clear and strong business case to be made for diversifying your workforce. Gender diversity, for instance, is correlated with both profitability and longer-term value creation. With that knowledge firmly in mind, the Benelux branch of Sopra Steria has launched its own initiative to close the gender gap and create a more inclusive workplace for women: DiversiTeam. 

In ‘Delivering through diversity’, the 2018 follow-up to McKinsey’s 2015 report on ‘Why diversity matters’, the consulting firm highlights the benefits of mixed teams for business. With regard to gender diversity, specifically, McKinsey finds that the companies with the highest gender diversity scores for their executive team(s) are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation. Yet, some sectors particularly suffer from a lack of gender diversity, as is the case with the technology sector we ourselves operate in, for instance. 

Major commitments 

Despite increasing efforts to attract and engage more women within our industry, women are still severely underrepresented in IT. And since our company is no exception to that reality, we have decided to make a change and put in place a local workgroup on gender diversity at Sopra Steria Benelux: DiversiTeam. 

At the group level, Sopra Steria’s management had already defined four major commitments to close the gender gap and create a more inclusive workplace for women: 

  1. Improve the proportion of women in the headcount 
  1. Carry out a non-discriminatory recruitment process 

  1. Provide equal treatment and non-discriminatory career opportunities 

  1. Promote a satisfactory balance between private and working life 

Building on that corporate foundation through our DiversiTeam initiative, we in turn developed three focus groups in order to reach those four goals at the local branch level. 

Education and knowledge sharing

In close cooperation with our communications team, we have created a quarterly internal newsletter specifically dedicated to gender equality issues. It is aimed at redressing the gender balance in the IT world, starting of course with our own organisation. Through this new communications channel, we intend to raise overall consciousness about equality matters. But we also aspire to interest female colleagues in technology by providing empowering tools for women, tech news specifically geared towards women and, last but not least, inspiring testimonials of our own IT women. 

We will also organise workshops for our teams and team leaders, to ensure the inclusion of all staff members and create a balanced work environment. Other workshops will be meant for our female coworkers, to learn how to grow their career and make the best of each opportunity. 

Mentorship programme

According to a study by ISACA, a professional association focused on IT governance, the two biggest obstacles for women currently working in technology fields around the world are a lack of mentors (48%) and a lack of female role models (42%). By establishing a mentorship programme, we strive to advance more women in their work, help them gain access to capital and economic opportunities they might otherwise miss and get them better prepared for opportunities when they come. In the end, the goal is to provide the tools to allow more women to reach managerial positions. 

Women networking 

According to that same ISACA study, limited networking opportunities constitute the third biggest obstacle (27%) for women working in technology today. By allowing women to meet and share their thoughts and experiences in a safe space, we stimulate them to develop their network within Sopra Steria, whatever their field of expertise, organisational level or seniority may be. 

Let’s shape a tech world full of diversity! 

It goes without saying that this DiversiTeam initiative is only the beginning. More such initiatives are sure to follow. Then again, with less than 20% of IT students worldwide being women, we are facing a huge challenge. However, we at Sopra Steria Benelux are already really proud to share the good news that, thanks to the efforts of our HR team, 43% of our new recruits in the first half of this year were women. And in total, the Sopra Steria group today is already made up of 32% women. To quote Vincent Paris, our CEO, by way of conclusion: “That’s better than the world average, but we still have a long way to go.”