Diversity and Inclusion remains key focus for Ireland’s Top Tech Companies as progress discussed at Annual CWiT CEO Forum

Dublin, November 5th, 2020:  Senior leaders representing 23 of the country’s largest technology companies located in Ireland met today for the annual Connecting Women in Technology (CWiT) CEO Forum. Top of the agenda at today’s virtual gathering was the continued efforts and commitment of CWiT in attracting, retaining and promoting women in the technology sector and to address the gender gap that exists within this community.

This year’s meeting  was hosted by Microsoft, one of the founding members of the network. Addressing the audience, Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland said

“Almost all workplaces have changed this year with the majority of people required to work remotely. This means that an even greater effort and focus is required to ensure that the gains made in the area of D&I are not lost. Mentoring, support and training must remain a priority regardless of whether people are physically in their office or not. We all need to work together to keep this issue high on the agenda of business leaders so that organisations can continue to benefit from the positive impact that greater diversity delivers.” 

2020 has posed significant challenges for all of society and organisations operating across all industries. CWiT member companies were no different, and have in recent months focused on adapting to the ‘new normal’, ensuring the safety of employees and the continued support for customers across the world. At the same time they have remained focused on delivering internal and external programmes aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in the technology industry.

One such programme that aims to close the gap between STEM education is Dublin City University’s STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) supported by CWiT, Castel, 30% Club, and SFI. To date, the programme has provided 70 DCU STEM teachers with a 12 week experience across 24 of Ireland’s leading companies, including 11 CWiT member companies. Despite being affected by covid-19 restrictions, 16 internships went ahead allowing students to get first-hand experience of working in the technology sector. 

One of this year’s interns was Seán Smyth who completed his internship at Xilinx. Speaking about the programme, he said.

“The programme aims to highlight the careers available in STEM to pre-service teachers, like myself, while also giving student teachers’ hands-on experience of working in the corporate STEM environment. This empowers future teachers and their students to take part in STEM activities, to study STEM subjects, and to get involved in the STEM industry. The future of the tech industry is certainly looking bright (and increasingly diverse!).”

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have worked in favour of technology innovations at work, at home and in personal life, but according to TrustRadius women are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in the professional setting, which may lead to negative impact on female representation, career progression and gender pay. CWiT has partnered with TalentHub, a leading eCommerce and Technology recruitment partner in Ireland, to address some of the challenges through a series of masterclasses and events.

CWiT spokesperson and strategy lead Ifah Sivak said,

“The past 8 month have been very tough for everyone, but we have continued working together and supporting both our members and our programs in attracting and retaining women in tech.  We had to adapt our approach and strategy to fit with everything moving to a virtual environment, while not deprioritising our D&I activities. CWIT has also partnered with TalentHub recruitment agency to help with bridging the female gap through masterclasses and speaking events. Today, we were delighted with the enthusiastic engagement in our virtual room with all of CWiT’s member CEOs, who came together to discuss issues within the tech sector.”

CWiT was founded in 2011 to bring together technology companies with the vision of “connecting and supporting the development of women in the technology industry, now and for the future”. Since then, CWiT has grown to 23 member companies. Ireland’s largest network of technology companies are committed to attracting and retaining female talent in the technology and fostering diversity and inclusion within the sector. Representatives from member companies collaborate on a voluntary basis to provide programmes that deliver against these objectives.

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