Skillnet Ireland marked International Women’s Day 2020 in Cork in the company of our Skillnet Networks and local businesses. We were joined by a wide range of companies including; Pfizer, Ballymaloe Foods, Employmum.ie, Supervalu, University College Cork, The Irish Food Awards, McAfee, Conexion, Smart Fox, Network Cork, 8 West Consulting, Technological University Dublin, Triskel Arts Centre and many more. There was great energy, commitment and ambition for empowering and supporting the development of women in business and within the workforce of Ireland.
We are proud to be a diverse and inclusive organisation, both within Skillnet Ireland and across our network community of almost 70 business networks. At Skillnet Ireland we live by our values. We are proud that female representation at Skillnet Ireland board level is 54%, which is higher than the national average of 31%. Similarly, 62% of Skillnet Network Managers are female and in 2018, 44% of our learning and development participants were female. Supporting diversity in the workplace is a vital part of a successful business, driving greater productivity, innovation and growth.
Below we have captured some of the key highlights from the event where we explored how together we can make change happen. These include highlights from Dr. Celine Mullins workshop Maximising brain potential for learning and change, and insights from the panel discussion with local businesses and our audience. Our event theme Collectively, we can make change happen aligned with the overall International Women’s Day 2020 theme Each for Equal, which draws from the concept of collective individualism.
The power of questions and simply listening
Asking questions unlocks learning and helps us socially bond with others. During the workshop with Dr. Mullins everyone was encouraged to get up and interact through a variety of exercises. These exercises helped us understand how much of our behaviour is unconscious and by acknowledging certain habits or unhelpful thoughts we can proactively choose to make positive changes. Tying back to this later in the event, panellist Margaret Howard, Quality Operations Leader, Pfizer Global Supply highlighted, “By asking the right questions and simply listening we can really help understand what people need and what motivates us.”
The mentor pathway
Having a mentor or multiple mentors is an essential part of career and business guidance, and provides accountability, motivation and emotional support. During our panel discussion Rachel Maher O’Brien, Talent Acquisition Manager, EMEA, McAfee Ireland advised, “You don’t have to stop at one mentor, have multiple mentors”. Throughout your life you may acquire multiple mentors, during the various stages of your career. Many of our attendees, speakers and panellists have both been and had mentors themselves. The benefits of having a mentor mean you have a trusted person to lend you expert advice and make you accountable, helping keep you focused and aware of your blind spots. Which in turn, allows you to grow, learn and challenge yourself.
Supporting each other
Throughout the day it was acknowledged by everyone that women need to make supporting each other a habit. If opportunities to help other women become leaders or to empower and encourage other women to step up, we should all rise to the occasion. Event attendee Dr. Adrienne Fleming of TU Dublin suggests, “Put yourself out there, women need to support women.” A very practical programme that panellist Maxine Hyde, General Manager of Ballymaloe Foods, recommended for promising female leaders was the Future Leaders programme with Cork Chamber Skillnet. This programme helped Maxine and her staff pave the way for business success.
Getting the diversity balance right
One of the event’s key takeaways was centred on how we need to embrace diversity and inclusion. Both of which are central to business success and have significant benefits for people and organisations. Dave A. Barry, Founding Director, Conexion believes that it’s all about getting the balance right, “We need to ensure there is a balance in everything we want to make better and equal”. Ultimately, in order to get this balance right and move the dial forward we all need to work together to collectively make positive change happen in our careers, lives and in wider society.
Find out more
At Skillnet Ireland we are continually promoting higher standards of gender equality, diversity and inclusion. Skillnet Ireland programmes include Technology Ireland Software Skillnet’s Women ReBOOT for experienced ICT workers returning to work after a career break, and Taste4Success Skillnet’s Rejuvenate programme for upskilling women working in the agri food sector. If you are a business based in the South West of Ireland and want to benefit from our local Skillnet Networks range of learning and development programmes, visit our website to find out more about the local Networks operating in this region. Or if you are looking for more information on our 70 regional, sectoral or national Networks, visit Our Networks page on our website to find the right Network for your business needs.