Digital & IT
Kingfisher Women in IT Network
When I started in IT 25 years ago, I would often be the only woman in the room. Sometimes I still am, but this is changing. Being a woman and a mother trying to balance all aspects of life, it’s sometimes daunting and challenging to step forward, take charge and show what you can do. But Kingfisher’s Women in IT Network supports us and gives us a supportive community to drive forward this change.
Gender diversity is a challenge in IT, where females average around 20% of the IT workforce, reducing to around 5% for senior roles.
That’s why it’s really important to me that I work for a company that actively champions diversity, specifically in the form of this network.
Kingfisher’s Women in IT Network was set up in 2015 to help and support women working in the IT and Digital functions at Kingfisher, as well as attracting female talent to our growing organisation.
The network helps to develop a community that enables our colleagues to share thoughts, ideas and experience as well as creating an army of advocates within the business to help and promote each other’s skills and talents. Given the low number of female candidates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related careers, it’s brilliant to be an example in the industry of how women in IT and in STEM are celebrated and can drive change.
It’s a supportive community and one of the key things the network does is run an annual event which is a great platform for our female colleagues from across our markets to celebrate and recognise Kingfisher’s Women in IT. The 2019 event was held in Southampton and we were joined by 100 colleagues from the UK and France. It kicked off with a lot of excitement (and a little bit of hesitation) about what awaited us as we entered; the walls were covered with movie props and the room was laid out with what looked like dis-assembled go-carts.
The sessions were designed to get our creative and collaborative juices flowing and to help us get to know all the new faces in the room. Our first task was to build our own F1 racing teams – from electing a team principal and driver to building the car, the brand and the sponsorship. The innovation and creativity used in the presentation of each teams’ car was exceptional. The best part, however, was racing the cars against each other in the forecourt - everyone was completely immersed in the event, thoroughly enjoying the rush of some (healthy) competition.
The second day was a day of reflection. We were encouraged to look at how we as individuals want to be perceived; highlighting our strengths in our reflection to others and our personal brand.
We also celebrated our colleagues from across Kingfisher in true ‘Oscars’ style, with awards categories based on inspirational women in history, exceptional for what they did and for leaving a legacy for future women to follow. The categories included:
1) The Mother Teresa Award: For being Cool, Calm and Collected
2) The Amelia Earhart Award: For Going the Extra Mile
3) The Ada Lovelace Award: For Championing Healthy Balance
4) The Simone de Beauvoir Award: For Being an Encyclopaedia
5) The Rosa Parks Award: Newcomer of the Year
6) The Maria Montessori Award: For Creating a Butterfly Effect
A special mention to all the women who have made this event possible over the last four years, and to Kingfisher IT for supporting the Women in IT programme; growing it year on year to be another amazing event.