Who else has started to expect the worst when they hear the word ‘news’ this year? I definitely have. However, news can still be great news and this is one of those cases – even in these unprecedented times, the leadership team at WICT Europe are finding new ways of connecting with our members.
On September 16th, we held a virtual Townhall event to introduce the new Board chaired by Soraya Loerts who shared her vision and strategy for WICT Europe; it was also an opportunity for us to hear from members on their views and expectations of the Chapter for the coming months. This was our biggest event to date: over 100 people signed up, representing ~15 technology companies across Europe.
We decided to give you a quick recap of the great content covered with the help of WICT Europe’s Chief of Staff, Nadia, who acted as moderator of the event:
What was the purpose of having this Townhall?
Having this Townhall now was so appropriate, for two main reasons. As you know, we have just recently appointed a new board, and it was really important that our members could see us, speak with us, and share their thoughts on the direction of the Chapter for the coming year. We really want all members to play an active role in WICT, so we think creating that personal connection was a meaningful step in that direction.
In addition, we wanted to acknowledge that whilst events have been moving to digital formats, a trend likely to continue for the foreseeable future, we are still 100% committed to realizing our goals as a Chapter. If anything, pivoting towards digital events offers the exciting opportunity of really leveraging our central Chapter to expand to new geographies across Europe.
What main topics were addressed during the event?
We wanted to communicate the type of events we will be focusing on this year. There will be a greater emphasis on skill-based leadership training, paired with the launch of our mentoring program. This will be available to all levels through an application process.
Last year we were almost like a start-up, launching the Chapter and building a membership base. We have now moved into the phase where we want to focus on driving value for our members and providing them with development opportunities, as ultimately we believe this will attract wider diversity.
Some C-level guests also joined the event, what was their input to the conversation?
We were really lucky to have the support of so many people at the event! Among others, we were joined by Enrique Rodriguez, the Chief Technology Officer of Liberty Global and Thomas Mulder, the Chief People Officer of VodafoneZiggo, and this was a huge endorsement for WICT Europe. We are really serious about wanting to make a difference for our members through learning and development opportunities, but we also need to play an active role in guiding companies on how we can create measurable and attainable goals.
We were challenged by Enrique and some other members on how we will report our success. That was extremely valid feedback for us, and we are already hatching a plan as to how we will measure and communicate this in a more data driven way over the next year.
What kind of questions were raised by the audience?
It was great to see how eager attendees were to participate in the conversation, and the questions were many and diverse. One recurring theme was the complexity of diversity, and the need to acknowledge its intersectional nature. We have so far focused mostly on gender, but our members pointed out there are so many aspects that can and need to be added to that: the challenges faced, for example, by a single mother will be only partly the same as those faced by a woman of color working in a white man dominated corporation. Some of our members have many of these overlapping social identities, and we need to acknowledge and address the diversity that they add to our cause. How can we look at other verticals beyond just gender, and bring that into the conversation? Perhaps focusing on diversity as a broader topic we can bring light to other movement and strive for equality together. As a first step in this direction, we are hosting an event on LGBTQI+ plus inclusion in the workplace this October; we are also planning an event inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has deeply characterized this last year, and from which we can for sure learn.
If you could pick one takeaway that you would like attendees to remember from this Townhall, what would it be?
The central word for us is ‘together’. It is important for our members to know that we are driven to create a programming calendar that is relevant to them but ultimately if we want to achieve our mission of creating a level playing field for both men and women in technology, we need to do it together. Funnily enough while we were talking about this, we realized that the word ‘together’ can be split in to-get-her, which is so representative of our mission: we want to get her to her next steps, to get her to a leading role, to get a level playing field for her… So, yes: together is the word.
Well, what is left to say, if not that we were so excited to see the engagement from members and we cannot wait to see what next year has in store for WICT Europe!