Written by Rachel Ward-Miller, Cisilion’s Head of HR
At the beginning of the month, Emily in our Marketing Team and I were lucky enough to attend the Women in Tech Festival. With the unexpected demands of 2020 at the forefront of our minds, it was great to see a different twist this year, with an emphasis on mental wellbeing.
Mental and Physical Wellbeing
We started the day striking the balance between our mental health and our physical health with a fantastic yoga session held by Karen Walker, followed by a taste of mindfulness with Hannah Loveday. Both sessions prepared our minds and bodies for the inspirational talks and topics covered throughout both days – a useful reminder for me to encourage our team to utilise our existing employee benefit with Headspace, which is soon to become integrated into Microsoft Teams.
There were many important themes covered across both days – from the benefits of both partnering with and being a mentor, the impact of impostor syndrome, and the gendered words within a job specification. However, the one session that resonated with me the most was that of Anne-Marie Imifadon about diversity and inclusion.
Addressing Inclusion through the STEMettes
Last year, I saw Anne-Marie speak at the previous event, so I knew that I would leave the session full of inspiration and ideas. However this year, she was joined by three STEMettes, discussing their experiences and how the programme has helped them in their careers. Anne-Marie began the STEMettes in 2013, addressing the under-representation of women in Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology. As of today, the group has reached over 45,000+ young people within the UK, Ireland and Europe.
What I found particularly interesting was the discussion surrounding the challenges of not only women and non-binary people, but also young people in general throughout their STEM journey.
Nnenne Ofochebe, an Azure Cloud Consultant and member of the STEMettes, explained that when she started her career, one of the biggest challenges was understanding technical terminology. Being a young new starter, it can be difficult to understand each role name and jargon within an organisation. The difference between a Project Manager and a Pre-Sales Consultant is not often differentiated within a technology or IT degree.
Soumya Singh, who is a Software Engineer at Deutsche Bank and a mentor on the STEMettes programme, explored how attending and joining a university in a brand-new country left her feeling like she needed to fit into a certain mould to achieve accomplishment.
Finally, the group of STEMettes discussed how university does not always prepare their students for the transition between learning and studying as a student to becoming an employee of an organisation.
Supporting diversity and inclusion
Fortunately, the Government has been introducing new initiatives nationwide to encourage employers to support young people – for instance the KickStart Scheme. But how can we, as more established IT professionals, help young people transition into the industry with ease?
From my perspective, a lot of this comes down to being understanding, empathetic and listening. By encouraging young employees to ask questions and be curious, this will not only encourage their enthusiasm for the role, but also give them a feeling of value.
Another point that was very well made throughout a number of WiT sessions, was that diversity and inclusion policies do not do enough to ensure that younger people and ethnic minorities feel that they belong and that they are part of something bigger. When young people feel as though they belong, that is the time that they will flourish and thrive, bringing a new dimension to the workplace and ultimately, company results.
Peter Drucker once said:
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”
Leaders need to use their listening skills and emotional intelligence to guide, coach, and mentor young people throughout the early stages of their career and beyond.
Ignoring these challenges and difficulties that the ethnic minorities and genders face when entering the industry is only going to hinder organisations. By limiting your talent pool to individuals of a certain age, race, and gender, you will inevitably wipe out a huge amount of opportunity and output.
Introducing the Cisilion Academy
Personally, I am really looking forward to putting some of these notions into practice, as we launch the Cisilion Academy in the New Year. We will be focusing on attitude, drive, and enthusiasm, as key attributes of our graduates. We see that our managers will be learning from these grads throughout, and we are hoping that they will become the future of Cisilion.
With these qualities, we will be able to mentor and coach the graduates through our fast-track programme, decorating them with the technical accreditations that are widely recognised across our industry.
It would be great to see some female representation through the recruitment process. We will be paying particular attention to the language and techniques used in the interview process to appeal to the fantastic female talent across the industry.
We cannot wait to get this off the ground, so if you do know any IT graduates looking to kickstart their career and be a part of #TeamCisilion’s journey, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be looking at all talent, from all backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities, and are looking to begin the recruitment process as soon as possible.
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