Q&A's with Business in the Community gender equality campaign member Hitachi.
Abi Griffiths Price, Senior CSR Specialist, Hitachi Europe Limited, discusses initiatives Hitachi has undertaken to alleviate some of the barriers faced in the workplace by women and explains why this is so important to the organisation.
Abi, you have help to set up initiatives within Hitachi that help overcome some of the issues women face in the workplace. Why are these initiatives important?
Globally and in Europe, the higher we look up the corporate ladder the fewer women there are, part of the issue is that sometimes women can be more reticent to self-promote in the workplace. We are trying to address this.
Studies have shown that diversity is really important to a business as it creates a platform for more informed decisions, greater creativity, innovation and a better understanding of customer needs. We need leaders to understand this as well so recently I’ve been speaking with executives of the various businesses within Hitachi to get their views on diversity and inclusion as well as what can be done about it.
It is all about enabling people to fulfil their potential and translating real positive change into the business.
What has Hitachi done to help tackle these challenges?
Women-focussed initiatives are great ways to give the women the tools and encouragement to progress in their career. Hitachi set up the Women’s Interactive Network (WIN) to bring together women from all over the Hitachi network, regardless of their role or country. It already existed as a scheme within Hitachi Consulting and we wanted to apply the model across the whole group of companies. The launch of WIN coincided with the first summit and networking event we did in 2013. It has grown year on year to now host over 100 women from different companies all over Europe.
The annual event now features speakers from within and outside of the business, interactive workshops and panel discussions.
Aside from events, we reach a much larger audience through quarterly webinars and discussions on a dedicated LinkedIn group. We have also set up a group mentoring programme for women to carry on the discussions in more depth and set their own personal goals to focus on throughout the programme.
Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, is a great example of someone who really gets the business impact of encouraging women in this way and has been instrumental to establishing newly formed senior level Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, which aims to further drive action from a senior level. We hope to see more women and men at all levels get involved in the various programmes that are on offer leading to benefits for both the individual and the business.
What do the women find most useful about the events and network?
Members of WIN really appreciate the opportunity to network, to share experiences from across the whole network and to see the opportunities available to them in the group.
Above all, we have found that the women leave the summit feeling more confident about taking control of their careers and their development, whatever their ambition. Going forward we are making it even more business focused with real world examples from within the Hitachi group to make sure the attendees are really engaging with the social innovation business and thinking how they can implement learnings back in their day job. It is all about enabling people to fulfil their potential and translating real positive change into the business!
To find out more about the Women’s Interactive Network, watch a video from the latest event here: WIN Summit 2015