I recently caught up with Sarah Kaiser, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Fujitsu EMEIA. We had a very interesting conversation around diversity and inclusion and at a time when pay parity, the gender pay gap at the BBC and the tech industry’s issues with women rarely seem to be out of the headlines.
Q: Thank you very much for taking the time to share Fujitsu’s approach to diversity and inclusion with us. I see that you were one of the first companies to report your gender pay gap figures.
Yes, that’s correct. It was really important for us to be seen as absolutely transparent on this and our leadership team has been absolutely clear that they’re not happy with the gap as it stands and that they’re willing to put money, time and attention into making sure the gap is closed.
Q: At Fujitsu you have made a significant investment on ensuring that you are a diverse and inclusive workforce. What drives this strength of commitment?
A: Diversity and inclusion has become increasingly important because the IT sector is changing so rapidly. You’ll be aware of the digital disruption that is affecting all walks of life and for any company to be successful in the current climate you really need that diversity in the workforce to be more agile, more innovative and to respond better to your customers. But it’s not just about the business case – we also believe it’s the right thing to do. Fujitsu really prides itself on being a responsible business and so this initiative is really important to us.
Q: What practical things are you doing to attract more women into what is still an essentially male dominated field?
To give you a couple of examples, we’ve changed the way we write job adverts to attract more female applicants. We’ve looked at any potential bias within our recruitment and promotion panels and how this can be addressed. We have also looked at the sort of support women need to progress and develop. This can range from making flexible working practices the norm for everybody, or providing resources to help them develop their personal brands.
We’ve also made sure that men are really involved in this initiative, because this isn’t just a problem that only women can fix. It’s essential that the men are on board as well and for them to appreciate how they can support or possibly hinder it, so that we can really make progress. So our women’s network is open to men as well and has male and female members, which I think is really key for progress.
Q: What is the key to successful gender balance in a business?
We think the business case is about balance – we’re looking to build balance in our teams. It’s not about just promoting one group at the expense of another, it’s about building balanced diversity. We all benefit from it and we all have a role to play in achieving this. And we’ve got so many strong male allies in my company. For example, the chair of our Diversity Council is Conway Kosi, who is head of our Managed Infrastructure Services business line. Michael Keegan, the head of our product business, is an ambassador for Every Woman. And they’re really strong supporters of women in STEM. We also have a global diversity and inclusion ambassador, Steven Cox, who is always looking at what we can learn and what we can do differently.
Q: How important are successful women in terms of being role models for others?
Role models are really important because they help us believe that we can do it too. I came across some research recently suggesting that we need to see four role models who are ‘like us’ before we really start to believe that we can achieve the same things. So it’s not so much ‘distant’ figures who have made it to the top in Silicon Valley as people with whom we can identify and see daily within the organisation who you really respect for the way they work. We don’t all aspire to be a CEO!
One of my colleagues at Fujitsu has become a role model for many women because she’s highly successful in a technical role – there just aren’t that many female ‘techies’. But whilst she doesn’t like to think of herself as a role mode, she’s come to terms with it because it’s so important to encourage other women to follow in her footsteps. And I would certainly add that men can also be a part of this too by supporting and encouraging women – they can sponsor women and they can also call out bias and poor attitudes when they see them.
Erin Callaghan, is a Partner in the firm’s Technology Practice. Erin has over 11 years’ experience in executive recruitment and has built a track record of delivering senior assignments in the international technology sector, including FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies as well as VC or private equity backed, pre- and post-IPO organisations. She advises and supports hiring across sales, marketing, product and general management functions.