Category: Industry News, women in tech, Royal mail group, Addressing gender inequality, gender network, challenging gender, gender biased
Many businesses can struggle to attract more women into technology-based roles, however Royal Mail is embracing this challenge with the support of Louise Blais, Head of Architecture Domains for Royal Mail.
Louise Blais has immersed herself into a career in technology that she loves. She has worked for Canada Post in her home country and for Accenture and IBM in North America and in the UK before joining Royal Mail four years ago.
Blais is responsible for determining what technology Royal Mail needs today and deciding what it must invest in to meet its future requirements.
“These are exciting times for women to work in technology particularly for a company like Royal Mail because the architecture estate is evolving and transforming on a massive scale.
“Technology is an integral part of Royal Mail, so we need people to manage it and as part of that we have introduced schemes focused on bringing new colleagues into this part of the business and developing our talent pipeline. As part of our drive to encourage young people to apply for Apprenticeships at Royal Mail, we send ambassadors into schools to talk about the difference technology can make to our business and to society.
“I spoke at a school career fair recently and at first the only kids who came to see me were boys and many of them were coders. As an industry, we need to explain that a career in technology is much broader than that.”
The gender split
Blais says the gender split in the technology team at Royal Mail has improved. Women currently represent around 16% of Royal Mail’s workforce. As an equal opportunities employer, Royal Mail encourages its female employees to consider a management role and supports them in a number of ways. At present, 20% of Royal Mails managers are women. Although small, the representation of female managers has increased 8% since 2004, particularly senior managers (+11%).
Royal Mail is trying to recruit more female graduates into engineering roles and support its female employees through the various gender networks and mentoring schemes that they have to offer.
Royal Mail’s gender strategy is developed and overseen by the Women's Steering Group led by an Corporate Executive Committee Member.
Royal Mail’s gender initiatives include:
- Senior Female Network – this is co-led by the CEO and aims to increase the diversity of the senior management community by greater insight and exposure.
- One-to-one mentoring scheme – this is a scheme that currently has over 90 managers paired with female employees in order to help them progress in their careers.
- The Springboard Development programme – this has been running since 2005 offering non-management grade female employees a series of confidence-boosting Workshops. So far, over 700 women have participated in more than 50 programmes. Going forward a further 12 female managers will be trained as Springboard facilitators with the aim of 1000 employees attending the programme over a 12 month programme.
- Accredited coaches – coaches are formally allocated in order to ensure that employees are supported in their development.
Attracting women into tech roles
In addition to these initiatives, gender diversity is also a key priority for Royal Mail Group’s resourcing strategy. Royal Mail is continually reviewing its attraction strategies in order to ensure that a broad range of sourcing options are used, including female-focused channels. Royal Mail has also commissioned a review of its gender diversity at all stages of its recruitment process, in order to ensure that the process is free from bias and that their messaging is ‘female friendly’. In addition to these measures, an unconscious bias e-learning tool is being developed for all assessors.
“Persuading women to enter and stay in the tech sector is difficult and at an industry level we need to see more women in senior roles,” says Blais.
Blais says that she is determined to succeed in promoting careers in technology to women: “Women bring different ideas to the table at all levels so we need to ask why there are not more women in tech, and I am really proud to be part of these initiatives at Royal Mail”.
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