Val Risk, Client Executive
Val joined Fujitsu in 2014 as a client executive responsible for customer relations. Upon joining, she offered to support the CEO in changing the ‘face of the organisation’. At this time 23% of Fujitsu employees were female, with a particular shortage in technical, leadership and customer-facing roles. Val was determined that Fujitsu would be bold and to make it the place where women come to succeed. She set a target of reaching 30% of female employees by 2020, with 25% in leadership, 20% in senior technical roles and 20% in customer-facing roles. Additionally, she aimed for Fujitsu to be a Times Top 50 Employer for Women and a role model within the technology sector.
Val worked on behalf of the CEO to create a plan to increase female employee numbers, reduce the gender pay gap, support female talent and re-imagine Fujitsu’s image. She created a new gender board, case for action and investment case to support the plan, which she presented to Fujitsu’s Investment Committee and persuaded UK&I Leadership to invest in the plan and set clear goals in five key areas: Recruitment, Retention, Representation, Realisation and Reputation.
As Gender Champion, Val drove forward the introduction mandatory unconscious bias training and revised recruitment practice, flexible working as the default position in job advertisements and revised recruitment practice. Fujitsu has also been an early adopter of gender pay gap reporting, publishing its data in September 2017 and setting out an action plan to deliver more balance gender pay parity.
Val was named Fujitsu’s first Fit4Digital Hero in UK&I and has presented on the value of a female perspective in driving business results and transformation. She also launched a bi-annual event for Women in IT, bringing senior women together to debate diversity and inclusion in the IT industry, and supported the creation of a female technical forum to encourage women’s career progression. Additionally, Val chairs Fujitsu’s Gender Steering Group and Women’s Business Network and sits on the Everywoman Industry panel.
Since 2014 gaining Executive and business support for gender diversity has been a key challenge for Fujitsu, particularly in light of transformation programmes and market changes. To support embedding diversity as a commercial imperative, in 2015 Val secured investment for a specialist to bring additional focus to all aspects of diversity & inclusion.
Due to Val’s work as Gender Champion, 24.4% of Fujitsu’s workforce are now female (up from 23% in 2014), including 16% of technical roles and 30% of under-25s. Fujitsu now has three times as many female applicants and 43% of hires in 2017 have been female, including 49% of graduate intake, compared to 18% in 2016. Over a third of participants in development programmes are female and 26.2% of promotions have gone to women. Additionally, 40% of managers have received unconscious bias and the Women’s Business Network has over 500 members.
As key actions have been completed, new priorities have been set for: Pay Parity, Inclusivity, Reputation and Education. Future focus includes a renewed focus on developing senior female leaders through sponsorship and coaching, with a 25% target. Additionally, Val is championing a European-wide plan for 30% female salesforce by 2020 and expand the gender plan globally.
Val is a highly visible role model and an acknowledged pioneer within Fujitsu. She has been recognised for her work on this agenda by winning Fujitsu’s Global President’s Award in 2017 and was awarded a Top Performers Award for her work on digital and diversity transformation.