132 years is the estimated length of time that it will take to close the global gender gap. This a stark reminder that, while great strides have been taken to close the gender gap, we still have a way to go. As a mother of two girls and a woman in leadership, it motivates me to effect change. For the brilliant women I work with. For my daughters. And for the future generations of women to come.
International Women’s Day should serve as a reminder to set goals and drive real progress. From increasing representation for women in leadership and decision-making roles to investing in mentorship and support resources, businesses and individuals alike have an important role to play in helping to close the gender divide. That’s why I’m proud to be the executive sponsor for Virgin Media O2’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programme, which enables me to advocate for meaningful change for all our colleagues.
I believe our organisation must foster an inclusive environment where everyone can be their authentic selves – today and every day. And I’m fortunate to work with people who feel the same way. This past year we launched our All In strategy, which aims to remove bias and systemic barriers while introducing new equitable policies. At the heart of All In are several key ambitions to promote gender equity to be achieved by 2027, including: equal gender representation in our wider leadership team, and driving forward gender parity across our entire organisation.
In addition to AII In, our leadership team works closely with our people networks to continually review and challenge our practises and ways of working. Helping us to introduce more equitable policies and changes that provide support in the right way for all our people. This includes enhanced leave policies so our people can be there for their loved ones when it counts like our paid neonatal and paid carer’s leave; I’m proud to say that Virgin Media O2 was one of the first UK companies to offer both policies.
Outside of our organisation, we support charities and community groups to help better people’s lives, creating a positive and lasting impact on the diverse communities we serve. To support this ambition, we partner with Girls Talk London’s ‘STEP UP’ programme to help young women to pursue their ambitions of working in technology.
We are one of many organisations taking strides towards gender parity, and there will be many stories like mine about individuals and companies trying to address this issue. However, to truly close the gender divide, we cannot forget the importance of equity. Globally women make up just 26.7% of technologists — a 2.1% drop in representation from March 2020 and a reverse after five years of progress. We need to tackle intersectional issues to identify and eliminate barriers so that we can ensure inclusivity for women from all backgrounds and circumstances. When we #EmbraceEquity, we ensure all women are accounted for when we create policies and push for change.
So, this International Women’s Day, I ask that women and allies alike come together to engage in conversations and enact action throughout the year. We can’t wait 132 years for gender equity. Let’s accelerate the pace of change now.
– Jo Bertram, Managing Director of Business and Wholesale, Virgin Media 02