Supporting women at every stage of their career
By Helen Lamprell, General Counsel & External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK
I’m very pleased that Vodafone has been named one of The Times Top 50 Employers for Women for the third year in a row. Vodafone aspires to be the world’s best employer for women by 2025, and this is a great external sign that we are on the right track. We aim to support women at every stage of their professional lives – in the workplace, and before starting a career as well.
Our aim: 40% of Vodafone women in senior roles
I’m delighted that Vodafone has met our initial target of achieving 30% of women in senior positions one year ahead of our deadline. So clearly it’s time to raise the bar higher. We want to have 40% of Vodafone women in senior roles by 2030.
Why not 50%? Two reasons. We recognise that not all women want to work. Some prefer not to and that is their right. Also, fairness is important to us. If we push for 50% at senior levels too quickly, we may end up not choosing the right candidate, or discriminating against men, and two wrongs don’t make a right.
Improving gender diversity in Graduate recruitment
We’re now seeing a roughly equal share of male and female candidates in our Assessment Centres for Graduate positions. This may not seem like a huge achievement, but in the technology sector it’s not as easy as it should be. To achieve this we have made changes in Graduate recruitment.
For example, we recently combined three previously separate Graduate schemes – Consumer, Enterprise and Technology – into a single scheme we call “Digital”. Combining the three schemes enables Vodafone Graduates to gain real-world experience in both digital and customer-facing roles. We’ve also found that by simply branding the programme “Digital” instead of “Technology”, and using an inclusive marketing strategy, more female graduates are applying to the scheme.
Teaching girls to code with Code Like a Girl
Across the tech industry, just 17% of the UK workforce is female. This is a concern we must tackle collectively, and at Vodafone, we believe business has a key role to play. Through initiatives such as Code Like a Girl, we’re helping to build the next generation of tech talent. Designed for girls aged between 14 and 18, Code Like a Girl is a one-week, hands-on workshop that teaches digital skills. Our 2019 Code Like a Girl workshops will take place in August across our Stoke, Paddington and Newbury offices. Applications to register will be available on our careers website in June.
Encouraging girls to consider STEM careers
To encourage more young women to consider a career in STEM, Vodafone supports Step into STEM. A 7-month mentoring programme managed by Girls Talk London, Step into STEM offers female students in sixth form or college a mentor from a Vodafone Technology team. Mentors provide structured support and guidance on careers in Technology, employability skills and future educational plans.
In July, Step into STEM students will take part in a two-day technology summit in London. 40 girls attended last year’s summit, where they met graduate and apprenticeship recruitment teams from Vodafone, participated in interactive workshops and experimented with virtual reality headsets.
Supporting returners back into work with ReConnect
ReConnect is Vodafone’s recruitment scheme to support women and men back into work after a career break. Vodafone aims to hire 1,000 ReConnect recruits within three years, making it the world’s largest recruitment programme for women on career breaks.
Last year, over 200 people joined us at our ReConnect event in Newbury, our UK technology headquarters. The event included a careers fair, CV drop-in, interview workshop and a LinkedIn masterclass. We plan to hold a ReConnect event at our newly refurbished London office later this year, so stay tuned for updates.
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