There is no doubt that today women have many more opportunities at work than in previous decades. Research this year shows that 76.3% of women in the UK aged 16-64 are employed, compared to just 52.7% 40 years ago. However, when looking at women in business, there is more to the story than just how many are employed.
When we look at aspects such as pay, recognition and workplace experiences, there are still significant barriers to be overcome before we can claim true equality for women at work.
Diversity overall, where gender is a significant aspect, is a complex issue and does not simply mean having a set number of representatives of different groups in your organisation. Creating a culture that embraces diversity and inclusion (D&I) is not a tick-box exercise – the principle has to run deep, creating teams that bring diversity of thought, drawing from different backgrounds, experiences and opinions.
At NTT DATA, we are committed to keep improving how we can support the growth of our employees and ultimately create the best environment for them to thrive. Central to this is our Women’s Business Network (WBN) – a dedicated forum, open to everyone, for the discussion of gender equality. Attendees have an excellent opportunity to share experiences, listen to inspirational talks, and get involved in implementing and scaling a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives within NTT DATA and beyond.
As part of our ongoing efforts to champion D&I and, in particular, women in business, we support a number of initiatives that shine a light on women’s achievements, both inside and outside of the workplace.
One project we’ve supported recently is TV presenter Alice Morrison’s epic 4,000km trek across Morocco, of which NTT DATA UK was a proud sponsor.
As the presenter of BBC2’s Morocco to Timbuktu series, Alice is no stranger to adventure and it’s this fearless determination that inspires us at NTT DATA. In March 2019, she became the first woman to walk the length of the River Draa in Morocco, discovering a lost city and ancient tombs on her way.
Our sponsorship of Alice centres on the inspiration she gives us all to take on seemingly insurmountable tasks, dream big and achieve beyond (even high) expectations. She is a regular speaker at NTT DATA’s Women’s Business Network events and constantly amazes us with her incredible stories and boundless positivity.
Many of the challenges Alice faced on her trek were clearly very specific to the adventure itself, yet many comparisons can be drawn between these and the adversities and barriers that women and minority groups often face in business.
Making yourself heard, confronting prejudice or defying expectations can often feel like climbing a mountain or stumbling, unaided, across a hot desert: daunting, all-consuming and unpredictable.
However, what Alice and other inspiring figures teach us is that by sharing experiences, talking to peers and having the courage to think big and believe in yourself, you can often achieve the unthinkable.
Our commitment to women in business
We are dedicated to supporting women, both in our own organisation and beyond, as part of our wide-reaching D&I programme. We are involved in a number of initiatives, including:
- The 30% club: a campaign launched in 2010 to achieve a minimum of 30% women on FTSE 100 boards. We are proud to be a part of this club too, with 30% of our own board made up of women, and we are active in the cross-company mentoring scheme, which aims to extend women’s networks, provide valuable advice and enable skills sharing.
- The Girls’ Network: A number of NTT DATA UK colleagues are actively involved in helping this charity on its mission to inspire and empower girls from the least advantaged communities. Our colleagues take part in a mentoring scheme with local London schools, helping girls to develop skills such as CV writing and interview techniques.
As Alice found on her trek, sometimes it takes real determination and courage to achieve what we want to, but every step is worth the effort.
In the business world, we may still have a long way to go to make our workplaces truly diverse and inclusive, but with the initiatives we support and with role models like Alice to inspire us, at NTT DATA UK we are making real strides.
At NTT DATA we are committed to encouraging equality and empowering women to reach their potential. It is important to be ambitious and constantly asking whether current initiatives are good enough. We can always do better – keeping an open mind will be a key factor in pushing ourselves to affect real change and ensuring that we reach our diversity targets across the organisation. The Women’s Business Network is right at the heart of NTT DATA UK’s thriving diversity and inclusion programme – it’s how we DO DIVERSITY.