The theme of last year’s International Women’s Day was “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” It aims to remove the systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation in all areas of life, especially during COVID-19. Building on this campaign and with the mission of driving equality within the workplace, Salesforce Switzerland launched the Bring Women Back to Work initiative for Switzerland.
This initiative aims to address a serious issue: women are still underrepresented in the workforce, but particularly in the technology sector. Only about 11% of IT specialists and analysts are women, according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Bureau.
Even more worryingly, in Switzerland, 1 in 7 mothers loses her job during or after maternity leave, mainly due to the lack of available part-time options. Added to that, women returning to work after career breaks can often be overlooked yet they bring a wealth of competencies and experience to potential employers.
The Bring Women Back to Work initiative aims to increase the representation of women in Tech and support women who have taken career breaks in their journeys back into business. We are also supporting women that want to enter a new industry within our program and promoting gender equality in IT.
The initiative includes a 12-month training to reskill and empower women to rejoin the workplace by offering Admin Certification over Trailhead Academy, Mentorship, coaching, workshops, and more. This is a huge learning experience for the Bring Women Back to Work network and supports job opportunities within the Salesforce Ecosystem.
The participants have to invest approximately 90 hours within one year for this program. The program is free for all participants and has a value of $5,000 which is covered by all Partner sponsors and Salesforce. Numerous networking and mentor opportunities are offered.
To increase scale, we partnered with our Salesforce ecosystem. It is forecasted that there will be over 4.2m jobs available by 2024. Our Bring Women Back to Work partners and customers will be able to directly recruit women who have joined this initiative. We have also encouraged our partners to hire candidates based upon their attitude and train them for new skills. This is fundamental in ensuring equal opportunities for all.
Following the program design, we were ready to launch but discovered a few challenges along the way. Firstly, employers need to know how to encourage women to consider applying for a job at their company. Flexibility, a good salary, career progression, well-being initiatives, and finding an employer with a good reputation for gender-positive workplace policies are all important to women returning to the workforce.
Employers that understand what women in this situation are looking for are positioned to attract the best talent. Additionally, women need to regain the confidence to return to the workplace, refresh their skills, and also understand their value to employers.
In April 2020, we held our first Induction Day webcast, where 14 of our hiring partners were present and over 60 candidates joined. Following this successful launch, we were faced with a new challenge as COVID-19 pushed us all into confinement only one week after the launch.
Regardless of our challenges, we knew that it was even more important to focus on gender equality. We have seen that women are losing jobs at a faster rate and have been more negatively impacted by the pandemic. Kaspersky recently released a new report showing that half of the women surveyed working in technology believe the effects of COVID-19 have delayed their career progression.
We consulted with our partners and asked them for additional commitments including, hiring a minimum of one woman within one year, reconsidering their hiring requirements to look for women not only from the tech industry, and reconsidering their roles and offering them as flexible and/or part-time.
Finally, we have also asked them to take a chance on these candidates and finance 2/3 of the training for each of them, despite whether she will be hired by one of the partners or not. Under these new guidelines, we have created an opportunity to skill up a maximum of 72 women per year. The candidates must be eligible, interested to reskill and become Salesforce certified.
We have been able to create additional added value for every candidate, with or without having a committed job within our partner community. We have also included Partners who are not able to hire yet, but able to support with funding, resources and want to become a sponsor. We have included Salesforce as one of the hiring partners to increase job opportunities within the program.
We have had a great response from our partners because even in these challenging times, they realize that a diverse workforce is a more productive and more effective workforce. And they know that following International Women’s Day, being part of Generation Equality requires more than just ‘talking the talk’. It’s also about ‘walking the walk’.
We’re lucky that the Salesforce partner community has lateral thinkers and such incredible energy to drive diversity and to help turn this world into a better place!
Learn more about becoming a Partner sponsor for the program.