The only way to achieve gender equality is by putting equality into practice
There is no point in beating about the bush: As a woman working in the world of IT you are part of a minority. It has always been that way and it is likely to continue to be the case for a number of years to come. Yet, the male to female ratio is shifting within our organisation. In amongst other factors, this is the result of the efforts of the Diversity & Inclusion community, the community which works to install greater diversity and inclusivity on the shop floor at Capgemini. We spoke to Laura Osinga and Kevin Goedee who explained exactly what the gender stream within the community does and what kind of results their efforts have produced to date.
Whom do we have the pleasure of addressing?
Kevin: My name is Kevin Goedee. I work as a Portfolio Business Developer as part of the Testing Practice. A varied job that sees me assist our clients in clearly detailing their needs and providing them with an appropriate solution in response to their demand.
Laura: I am Laura Osinga and I have been with Capgemini for two years now. Previously as an SAP consultant, currently as a Business Analyst.Together we are involved with the gender community. To me, the fact that the gender community is made up of men as well as women is a good sign.
What drives you to actively work towards greater inclusivity and diversity on the shop floor?
Kevin: In the past, I was involved in a large-scale investigation by Cordaid. The entire investigation was administered using pen and paper. Working for an IT company, I obviously had my reservations about this line of approach. So, we decided to partner up in order to automate this process.
During the investigation which investigated how safe women feel, I became aware of gender diversity. To chart misconduct against women, surveys were taken as part of the investigation. At one of these face-to-face surveys, one woman was made to feel embarrassed when she struggled to answer a simple question: ‘How old were you when the incident occurred?’ She had been thirteen at the time. Only, none of the options included ‘13 years of age’. The fact that these kinds of things happen in this day and age is clearly absurd.
Laura: When I was still working at my previous company, on one occasion I was invited to an event with the telling tip to keep my mouth shut and to ‘just look good’. When this comment sank in a little later, I realised something was wrong about the way the company viewed male-female relations. After I joined Capgemini, I took part in the Hello Future event. It was a nice event, but it was an event especially ‘by blokes for blokes’. I did not think this was representative for the future of IT. When I heard about the gender community at Capgemini, I decided to sign up and get involved.
Do you find that this is something that occupies peoples’ minds on the shop floor at Capgemini?
Kevin: Our ambition as a community is to attract, retain and promote women. Independent research shows that we have been singled out as the ‘World’s Most Ethical Company’ for a number of years already. And it is certainly true to say that Capgemini embodies fairness, righteousness and equal treatment. These core values should also include gender equality on the shop floor. One would expect to see a 50/50 ratio, yet we still have a long way to go in this respect. The male to female ratio currently stands at around 25/75, with the qualification that we have more women in India, which means that the difference is in fact even greater in the Netherlands. This not only applies to us. The same imbalance is seen across the Netherlands. All of which makes this a highly relevant topic at Capgemini too. Diversity can only benefit the company. After all, the more different ideas and light bulb moments, the quicker certain innovations will see the light of day. Which is obviously not without importance to a publicly traded company such as Capgemini.
What would you like to achieve with this community?
Kevin: Ultimately I would like to see an equal male to female ratio. To me that is the goal we need to aim for. As it is, we have the full backing of the Chief Sales Officer and our Chief Delivery Officer in our endeavours.
Laura: What it is, more than anything else, is people becoming aware of things. We have a lot of ground to cover in this regard. One case in point being the grading forms we use, which consistently adopt the ‘he’ form. At first glance, this might be discarded as a trivial matter, but it is not. In order to achieve true inclusivity, it is exactly these kinds of things that need to be changed. Make it neutral so it will appeal to everybody. That is something we are currently working on. A nice quote that is frequently bandied around in the community is: Diversity means: everybody is welcome to the party. Inclusion means: everybody gets to dance the way they like! I like that: the fact that are allowed to be who they really are and that what matters are people’s qualities. It would give me great pride to be able to say that the male-female ratio at Capgemini is 50/50. That genuinely no distinction is made. None. If anything, gender equality should no longer be a topic that we even need to think about. As to how we get there, I am happy to echo Kevin’s words.
How are you planning to achieve these ambitions?
Kevin: We have some great plans for events, such as a ‘Bring your daughter to work’ day. And we are also looking to build partnerships with organisations that introduce children to IT from a young age. Enthusing and winning them over for jobs in the industry.
Laura: When all is said and done, things start with and within ourselves. Be aware of what goes on around you. Exude diversity. These are the very things we try and get across as part of the events we organise with the community. Practice what you preach, so that gender equality is accepted as normal.
We aspire to see a nice mix of genders, ethnicities, cultures and orientations. If we manage to accomplish this, we all stand to gain!
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