International Women’s Day: Women’s journeys in tech, data and consulting

2023 marks the 47th International Women’s Day (IWD). The United Nations created IWD as a marker to recognise women’s suffrage and the journey to equality that women have been on in the last century. And it’s very recent history. In Europe, Finland was the first country to give women the vote in 1906, with Lichtenstein being the last country to join the movement in 1984.

Along with other diversity issues, such as race, sexuality and background, Valcon recognises the importance of gender equality in the workforce and strives to create equal education, job opportunities and salaries for women. To mark the 2023 IWD, Valcon has spoken to women across its geographies and business areas to get their views and perspectives on women in consultancy, technology and data. Please read on to get their thoughts on what it is like to be a woman working in our industry.

How do you think we can attract more girls and women to work in technology and how do we make it more inclusive?

Mariam Ezdri, Senior Consultant, Technology, Nordics

The most important factor has been that I was believed in from the beginning and had strong female role models from the start. Factors that have helped me succeed include diversity initiatives, strong role models and leaders who believed in me. And it’s important to pay this forward – we arrange Women in Tech forums and invite inspirational female role models to speak, visit student fairs to chat to female students and run an internship programme where we ensure a 50:50 split. Valcon also ensures gender equality in terms of roles, salaries and support for mothers who return to work.

How can we create a workplace culture that supports women?  

Sarah Tomori Oyebo, Senior Specialist, Data, Nordics

I believe we can contribute to a workplace culture that supports women by acknowledging the unique contributions that they bring to the workplace and encouraging more female leadership. By promoting gender diversity, we create a workplace that makes women feel equally represented and appreciated. There are so many talented women out there and it is important to give women a voice in the workplace and promote equal opportunities and wages.

What benefits do you think a more gender-diverse leadership team can bring?

Ana Petrić Glibota, Lead, Technology, SEE

As with other areas of diversity – race, sexuality and background – gender diversity brings a wide range of experiences and perspectives to the leadership team and creates a forum for different points of view. It creates a more inclusive culture that values diversity and promotes equality. There can only be upsides and benefits to a more gender diverse leadership team.

What role do you think mentorship can play in supporting women’s careers? Have you ever benefited from mentoring, or have you mentored anyone? 

Martina Dodlek, Senior Principal, Data, SEE 

I’ve worked with some exceptional people, both male and female, but having a female mentor was even more significant because I could identify with them and learn from their experiences and the example they set. As a woman starting out in the data industry, mentorship was very important not only to build technical skills, but also to learn about business relationships, self-confidence and how to communicate in a safe learning environment. Thinking about the great women who influenced my growth over the years, I can only hope someone will say the same for me one day.”

How can we create a workplace culture that supports and empowers women, and how can we hold ourselves accountable for ensuring equity?   

Kelly Archer, Partner, Consulting, UK 

It would be easy to believe empowering women and creating equity are addressed merely through attracting more women to apply for roles and providing opportunities for all. Whilst that might start to address representation, true equity can only be achieved through the small things and organisational behaviour that makes somewhere like Valcon a great place to work.

How do you attract more girls and women to work in data/ technology/ consulting? 

Esther Ejedenawe, Specialist, Technology, UK 

Last year, we hosted a weeklong STEM work experience, involving four school girls, who got experience of working in data, technology and consulting. We ran a survey on completion of work experience and all four pupils were interested in pursuing a career in tech, consulting or AI! This shows the importance of creating a supportive environment at all levels and a providing a safe space for women to develop and access opportunities. It is important to promote the achievements of women in the business and encourage the professional development of women.

How do you think women can support each other in the workplace?  

Maaike van Alphen, Manager, Technology, NL 

I think women can help each other by looking after each other, supporting each other, and encouraging all our female colleagues to speak up and to be heard. By inspiring other women – and by setting the right example – women can motivate each other to grow in a safe environment and achieve their personal goals. This can be done simply by working together towards a specific goal, but also by taking the lead, by speaking up in a crowd, or by creating a stage for others.

What can men do contribute to an inclusive workplace where women feel safe and respected?  

Ellen van Rooij, Senior Specialist, Technology, NL 

The most important thing you can do to create an inclusive workplace for women is to be aware of the environment and culture you create. This can range from the jokes you make and the topics you talk about during lunch, to the space you take up in meetings. Make sure to check in with the women around you – especially in male-dominated areas – to see if there is anything you can do to contribute to improving these things. That way you can create a better workplace together!

From speaking to women across Valcon, the consensus is that women’s rights shouldn’t only be confined to International Women’s Day. And that equality and equity issues relate to all areas of diversity. Celebrating gender diversity, ethnic diversity, differences in sexuality and people who come from all walks of life and backgrounds should be part of the diversity journey for all organisations. Having the right culture is crucial. And we are lucky to have that at Valcon.

Want to learn more? If you would like to learn more about women’s careers in data, technology and consulting, please email [email protected] and we’ll be in touch right away.