Gender Equality in the Workplace
Thoughts from the Chief HR Officer at Vistatec
Siobhán Gantly, Chief Human Resources Officer at Vistatec
Tell us about the background of your career, and your current role in Vistatec.
I started my Human Resources (HR) career working for a US multinational organization in the manufacturing sector. I was dealing with trade unions in a male dominated manufacturing environment. While I do think my gender made my job more difficult at times, I never felt disadvantaged. That was 20 years ago now and I can appreciate how those experiences helped shape my professional career in a very positive way.
I left manufacturing for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the working environment was much more balanced in every way. I have been extremely fortunate to say most of my working career has been with Vistatec. I can say without hesitation that at Vistatec I have not experienced the sexism that I experienced early in my career. The kind of sexism that I know still exists in society today.
As Chief HR Officer at Vistatec, I participate at the most senior level in the organisation and have been sitting on the leadership team for almost 18 years. My role has evolved over time and has gone from what was once a very transactional and functional job to being strategic, interactive and influential. I believe gender had no bearing on my success.
At times, I wondered if my decision to start a family would hold me back. I wanted a career but not at the expense of starting a family. I was also very realistic about how the two roles could conflict. I knew I would struggle personally if I couldn’t be good at both jobs.
I have seen many sides: women who didn’t have the support to do both and were forced to choose between career or family; women who had a choice, but didn’t want both and women who had a choice, and successfully did both.
The latter doesn’t come easy. It requires a supportive employer, who is open to different ways of working and giving women the space and encouragement to do both jobs. It also requires equality at home, ensuring that household responsibilities and contingency does not fall on the same person all the time.
I would be lying if I said at times I doubted my own ability to do both and thought about giving up on my career when the guilt got too much, and the temporary challenges seemed never ending. But thankfully I had great role models and received all the support I needed from Vistatec and my family to allow me to choose both.
So here is the thing…. I genuinely feel privileged to have had the option to have a career and a family. I have asked myself why should I feel privileged? Surely that sentiment indicates that the problem remains in society. Sadly, many women and young girls across the world are still being disadvantaged because of their gender. Additionally, many people, regardless of gender, are disadvantaged everyday because of prejudices and stereotypes.
What is the value of Gender Equality in the workplace?
Equality in every sense is greatly important. On a human level if we feel like we are treated unfairly, it impacts motivation and inevitably we leave that environment. That is a huge risk for any business to take, as loss of talent impacts your ability to deliver and drives costs up. This is especially true in our industry, as it is very people-centric and globally diverse.
In the future, what steps should be taken to ensure better gender balance in society?
Making the world a fairer place for everyone is an epic task that touches every pillar of society. And it comes as no surprise that I feel workplaces have a large role to play in this.
Employers need to ensure gender does not influence your chances of success or failure. The standard should be that employees are defined by their actions and their differences are respected. Further, there needs to be awareness that even within genders, there can be huge variations.
Across Vistatec, and particularly at senior levels, gender balance is very evident. This provides access to good role models, both male and female, which I feel is hugely important for organizations who want balance.
When diversity and inclusion is fostered in a workplace, balance follows naturally.
We have been helping some of the world’s most iconic brands to optimize their global commercial potential since 1997. Vistatec is one of the world’s leading global content solutions providers. HQ in Dublin, Ireland with offices in Mountain View, California, USA.
To learn more about Vistatec please visit: www.vistatec.com