2018 Womenspire Awards highlight Wales’ leading female innovators

Sue Feathers, DVLA.

More than 600 people headed to the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay on Tuesday evening to attend the 2018 Womenspire Awards.

Organised by gender equality charity Chwarae Teg, the awards shine a light on the women breaking down barriers and achieving great things in Wales.

Now in the third year, they highlight the achievements – both personal and organisational – made by women from all walks of life and industries across the country.

The event covered a range of areas, including business, leadership, innovation, sport, creative, science, community activism and education.

A more equal workplace

However, the biggest awards of the night were Diversity Champion and FairPlay Employer, which recognised organisations championing gender diversity in everyday operations.

DevOpsGuys proudly sponsored the FairPlay Employer category. It acknowledged forward-thinking companies that are using innovative practices to allow diverse groups to grow and thrive.

The winning company had to demonstrate that it’s taken steps to boost staff engagement, productivity and customer satisfaction. It was awarded to the DVLA.

Sue feathers, HR business partner and policy lead at the DVLA, said the award is visual proof that the organisation’s diversity initiatives are working.

“It’s wonderful to have won this award, and I can’t put it into words. The DVLA is doing a lot of work to enable women – and men – to be able to cope with whatever life throws at them and continue to do their work,” she explained.

“What we’re focusing on now is the work they produce and contribution, rather than the number of hours spent in the office. It also gives people more say in how and when they do their work.

“Obviously, it must fit into business needs, but the interesting thing is that there’s not a single format that works for everyone.

“Our organisation is around 70/30 female, and yet there are fewer women working their way through to senior roles. But we’ve now got a 50/50 ratio on our board, which is very important to us. This award endorses the things we’re doing to promote diversity.”

Innovation can accelerate diversity

Louise David, business development lead at Chwarae Teg, believes that innovation and technology can make a “huge difference” to workplace diversity.

“The ability for employees to work in a way that suits them allows for results-based working, flexibility – letting women to build their careers around their lives and other responsibilities, including care,” she said.

“Innovation can also help support more diverse work networks and promote alternatives to traditional workplace practices that may be more male-dominated.

“This relationship works both ways, though, as diversity has also been linked to improved innovation.  With increased diversity at the top, a wider range of perspectives and approaches can be brought forward, and it can also help businesses better mirror society and attract a wider client base.”

Speaking about the response to the awards, Louise added: “Womenspire is now in its third year and keeps growing year on year.

“Over 400 women were nominated from all parts and communities of Wales, of all ages and of all walks of life and their stories are truly inspiring. Our partnership with ITV Wales has allowed us to showcase these role models to a wider audience too.

“This event aims to inspire women from across Wales and empower them to reach their potential and inspire businesses to think differently about how they work and harness everyone’s skills.”

Showcasing women in tech

Kate jones, operations director of DevOpsGuys, said: “We supported this award as a way to highlight the amazing women at the cutting edge of innovation, technology and business.

“We believe it’s fundamental to harness the skills of people from all backgrounds. This can have a direct effect on staff engagement, productivity and customer satisfaction.

“Clearly, there’s been a gender imbalance in the technology industry for decades, and this is a real challenge. But we’re actively taking practical steps to close this skills gap and ensure every member of our team has a voice.”

Joanna Pontin, marketing manager at DevOpsGuys, commented: “The awards were a great celebration of Women’s achievements, and to see so many women championing each other was truly inspiring.

“It was amazing to be a part of the awards and to sponsor the FairPlay category. Diversity and equality are intrinsic to our company culture.”

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