A unique business, CWIT was created in 2009 by the Irish subsidiaries of Accenture, Dell Technologies and Microsoft in order to address the gender imbalance in technology companies. 13 year on, it’s grown to over 20 members, with most of the major technology companies in Ireland within that membership. The company is now on a mission to support women currently in the workforce, to assist the next generation in accessing the sector and inspiring the younger generation of girls to see themselves in the technology space in the future. I interviewed CWIT board members and Dell Technologies employee Eleonore Roy to find out more.
- What is CWiT’s origin story? How did the organisation come about?
CWiT was founded by Accenture, Dell Technologies, and Microsoft in 2009 with an ambition to bring together technology companies and create a shared vision of “connecting and supporting the development of women in the technology industry, now and for the future”.
- How has the organisation changed since it started?
Since 2009, CWiT has grown to over 20 member companies – Ireland’s largest network of technology companies. All companies in CWiT 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.
- What are your main pillars in terms of achieving your mission?
Our main pillars are Education, Early Careers, Communication and Events/Networking. Through each of these areas, CWiT are committed to a variety of initiatives that are both CWiT led, and partner led, but which align to our core values of attracting, retaining and promoting women in technology.
- What organisations do you work with to achieve this mission? Do you have any success stories you can share about working with these organisations?
We have over 20 member companies, but we also partner with other organisations such as 30% club, Teen Turn, DCU.
Working with partners has been a great way to combine the power of industry with academia, NGOs and more. For example, the STEM Teacher Internship developed by DCU and supported by CWiT as industry liaisons has gone from strength to strength since it started. It is a 12-week programme for teachers, who are brought into companies to give them a better insight into what working at a tech firm entails and is very much geared towards teachers returning to the classroom to inform their students of the possibilities in the technology sector.
- You rely heavily on volunteers. How do you go about attracting volunteers to your organisation?
Volunteers are from our member companies. There is a membership process for each company with the expectation that there will be a certain amount of volunteers that will commit their time to this. However, generally people are keen to be involved with the CWiT mission and to be part of this growing network of women and allies.
- If a female working in the technology space in Ireland was interested in joining CWiT what should she do?
There are a few steps that an interested party could follow:
- Enquire if your company is a CWiT member.
- If not, they could ask for the details of how their company could become a member company via our CWiT website.
- If this isn’t possible, there are still a number of open events for the public to join and you can see this on https://cwit.ie and via our social channels.
- If a scaling company in the technology space in Ireland wanted to achieve a greater gender balance in their recruitment, what important advice would you give them?
A big observation for us, and one which has become really transparent in other areas (such as the 20×20 campaign for sportswomen), is the visibility of role models. Companies should be raising the profile of the amazing women and leaders in their companies and making sure that other women see that there can be a place for them at the table too. This is why we are running initiatives at CWiT that are actively trying to improve visibility as outlined in our most recent Women In STEM article.
- How did the pandemic affect the organisation and your community? Are there any positives you can take from this time?
– At the start of the COVID pandemic, like everything in life, major adaptation was needed and because we needed to connect virtually there definitely was a higher amount of fatigue from screens, virtual meetings etc. However, with some readjustments to schedules and continued open communications across the CWiT members, we found a way to support this massive change in how things were to be run.
– Now, we can see that by running events virtually, our events such as Education Spotlights and our CWiT Books & Culture Club can reach a wider audience and they are easier to fit into people’s schedules because there is no travel time required.
– Moving forward, we will have hybrid opportunities. This allows us to balance the positives of the virtual events for people to join with the positives of the return of in-person networking and attendance.
- Can you tell us more about your steering committee? How is this run and what benefit does it bring to the organisation?
The steering committee is a group of senior leaders from some of the CWiT member companies and they oversee the active CWiT network and support the CWiT leadership team with strategy and decision-making at a high level. The leadership team then is made up of pillar leads from all member organisations covering areas such as education, early careers, communications, events and networking, strategy, memberships, and integration.
- Are there any other organisations in Ireland that you’re a big fan of?
We are obviously big fans of 30% club, Teen Turn etc, which is why we work with them. However, we are always looking for opportunities to expand our organisation and work with others in the space of Diversity and Inclusion so please don’t be afraid to reach out.