IWD 2020 interview: FTS Group's Julia Merten & Veritec's Corryn Webb
As a celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re running a series of interviews with women in technology. FTS Group HR leader Julia Merten and Veritec’s senior manager of people and culture, Corryn Webb, share their thoughts.
What does the IT industry need to do to attract more women in the years ahead?
Merten: A core issue is that we have a small pool from the outset as we don’t have gender balance coming out of schools and universities. The key is getting them at the grassroots. The industry needs to work together with education providers to encourage young women to consider a career in IT. Veritec has been involved in the Microsoft Traineeship Program and has also launched its own Launch into Work program which is an apprenticeship style learning program will put graduates in pole position for new career prospects in the digital economy. Both initiatives have fostered young women and propelled them into the IT industry.
Another strategy we’ve had success with at FTS Group is actively recruiting women looking for a mid-career change and upskilling them with technical or consulting skills. Quite often women are keen on a new challenge when returning to work after having children.
Two of our companies have proactively been doing this with great success. Cubic Consulting has sought out those who want an industry change and provided tailored training to enable them to do so. And, Veritec has partnered with Microsoft on a program that has taken accountants and upskilled them in Dynamics 365 Finance – our first recruit out of this program was a woman!"
What does the IT industry need to do to ensure that more women have the opportunity to achieve senior leadership roles in the industry and within the organisations in which they work?
Webb: “We need to address unconscious bias and ensure those responsible for hiring and promoting within the business are aware of it and how to tackle it. We’re proud that our leaders within our Veritec – both male and female – actively address this.
“Another key thing is that businesses within the IT industry need to run their own initiatives and work with not-for-profits (NFP) to showcase female role models in the industry. The more women we see at the top, the more emerging female leaders will be inspired to follow similar paths.
“At Veritec we sponsor WIC which is an NFP women ITC networking group and we’ve got our own Veritec Impressive Women (VIW) program which is aimed at empowering growth amongst our female employees by inviting female leaders into our business to share their stories. We also recently launched an emPOWERIng women series of free training events in Power Apps for women – the great thing about this program is we got one of our female grads to spearhead it. We need to back women at all levels and give them opportunities to shine.”
Any other comments you would like to make?
Webb: “Every company operating in the IT industry has a responsibility to play an active role in shaping the future for women. We shouldn’t just put the onus on the big players to drive change – every company both big and small and every person working in the industry can play a part.
“I truly believe that it is up to every one of us, regardless of our role within our own companies to keep the conversations going on Diversity and Inclusion. Together we can all make a difference so that everybody belongs.”
Merten: “There are some really simple and quick things we can do today that will make a difference in the future. For example, we have used gender decoders for our jobs ads and have seen that by shifting language to appeal more to women we’ve been able to see an uplift in female applicants.”