Business Technology

Thursday 18 January 2018

Services company Sodexo working with non-profit group to 'disrupt' the gender gap for women in technology

Margot Slattery, country president for Sodexo Ireland
Margot Slattery, country president for Sodexo Ireland
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Sodexo, a provider of catering and facilities services, is working with global non-profit group Catalyst to ‘disrupt’ the gender gap for women in technology.

Speaking today at the 'Disrupt the Default-Closing the Gender Gap for Women in Tech' event, Margot Slattery, country president for Sodexo Ireland, said that tech-intensive industries are being decimated by an exodus of female role models at all levels due to the prevailing cultural issues around lifestyle.

"More needs to be done to disrupt the prevailing 24/7 ethos which can make working in tech-intensive industries incredibly difficult for women with families as well as men," Ms Slattery said.

The event, organised by both Sodexo and Catalyst, is highlighting the latest research, techniques and best practices that organisations around the world are employing to advance gender balanced teams in the technology sector.

Sodexo has a history of pioneering diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Read more: 'You have to want it. You have to desire it' - Recognising the 25 most powerful business women in Ireland

The company was one of 11 founding partners and signatories of Ireland’s first Diversity Charter, and Ms Slattery has received numerous accolades for her role in promoting gender balance as part of its diversity and inclusion agenda.

Sodexo, which employs 2,300 staff in over 200 locations across Ireland, also received the 2012 Catalyst Award in North America, which is given to honour exceptional business initiatives that advance women in the workplace.

The event is timely, as research from Catalyst has shown that highly qualified women are not opting out of the workplace, but they are opting out of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) industries.

More than half of women who started out in tech-intensive industries working in a business role have left to take a position in another industry, compared to just 31pc of men, the research found.

Small things reinforcing barriers

Sandra Ondraschek-Norris, senior director at Catalyst Europe used the event to share two nuggets with the audience which highlighted how some seemingly small things can reinforce barriers to female progression.

One individual said she tells young women to use black coffee mugs because it doesn’t show lipstick marks.

Another, a chief technology officer, said she tells young women not to bring notebooks to meetings because people will assume they’re secretaries as this kept happening to her, even as she became more senior.

Ms Norris said that the anecdotes reveal the impact the prevailing culture is having on retaining and attracting top female talent.

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