Case Study Blog by Vicky Di Ciacca, Director of Be Positive:
When we started our business 14 years ago, it wasn’t a conscious decision to aim for a company with a particular gender balance. It’s what we have achieved because we have hired a team with the right skills, experience and potential to support our customers. I have spent my entire working career in the male dominated technology sector. I started out as a graduate programmer in IBM – working on big systems that were older than I was. I am now a director of a Business Analysis/Software Requirements company that I co-founded with my fellow director 14 years ago.
Our company, Be Positive, has grown over time and we are proud of everything that we have achieved in the fields of business analysis training, consultancy and project delivery. When I talk to people about our company, one of the things that really stands out is the gender balance that we have across the team. “Wait – you are a tech company with more women than men?” The surprise from others always surprises me – we do what we do, it’s the way that we work and why would it be any different?
Here’s some numbers for those of us that like them:
- We have a team that is 70% Female
- We have a 50/50 split of female / male at director level
- Our senior leadership team is all female
- The rest of the team is split 2:1 female to male
- We have a wide range of ages across the team and have recent graduates, working parents and returners to work amongst our colleagues.
My business partner and I set up Be Positive in 2004, we wanted to focus on the subjects that we are experts in and at the same time free ourselves from the constraints of working for a large organisation. Like many entrepreneurs, we took a risk to set up the company and certainly in the early days spent many angst filled hours wondering if it was all going to work out OK. As we have matured as a business, we have had to balance the needs of our customers with how we want to run the company. We didn’t set out to purposefully create an organisation with a particular gender balance, but thinking about it, the key things that have helped us are:
Role Modelling throughout the organisation.
– I am a great believer in role modelling as way to motivate and inspire. Women are represented at every level in the organisation. From Director and Founder, to Head of Delivery, to Managing Analyst to Trainee Analyst. At the time of writing – all the most senior positions in the organisation below director level are held by women. Encouraging young women to join the organisation
– Our best route to finding new talent in the organisation has been word of mouth, particularly when it comes to joining our graduate programme. We encourage our trainee analysts to point their friends in our direction. Encouraging young people and helping them to start their careers has certainly paid dividends for us. It works well for us and for our customers. Encouraging young women to join through our graduate scheme.
Accommodating flexible working
– We have colleagues who work less than a standard week and we have colleagues who are able to come in early and leave early for a variety of reasons. Providing a service to our customers could be seen as being at odds with enabling a flexible approach, but we work hard to balance our customers’ needs with what works for our colleagues. So what? It’s one of my favourite questions and it’s one I often ask when working with organisations to help them solve their business problems. There are countless academic and business papers that will talk in general about the importance of gender balance and diversity and the associated benefits. For us at Be Positive, I believe we have a more innovative and balanced culture. We have different perspectives on the challenges we face and this can only lead to more effective decision making. We widen the net with regards to the talented colleagues we can attract, develop and retain. With a balanced team we better reflect our customers and society as a whole.