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Turning the tide on gender equality at KONE!
“As a woman and mother of a daughter, it is my duty to make the world a better and safer place for women to live and grow!”
Even today, in India’s professional work environment, gender equality is challenging and vertical career moves are strenuous because women aren’t often on the roadmap for managerial positions. There are very few role models in our field and we at KONE wanted to turn the tide. With the ITEC Women Talent Council, we are proud to be pioneers in creating an inspiring workplace that empowers women. Our efforts are not in vain as KONE has been awarded the title of best place to work for women a full seven times.
Supporting the attraction, encouragement, and retention of Women in Tech
The Women Talent Council was born in 2019 with the idea of supporting the attraction, career growth, and retention of women in India’s technology industry. It all started with a design-thinking workshop with over 40 female employees in our unit and a few global representatives. We decided to focus on four action areas that we saw as supporting our goal: inspiration, wellbeing, development, and engagement.
Following our workshop, the ITEC Women’s Talent Council was created to drive the topics forward. We now have a council of nine women, including two women responsible for each area, and it has been my great honour to be the Chairperson of this council from its inception to the end of 2022.
Planting a seed sometimes bears fruit much faster than expected
In 2020, our first year, we met every Wednesday and planned a full calendar year. We organised events including technical training, engagement activities, well-being sessions and inspirational talks - and we proudly executed them all, even when taken aback by the pandemic.
Our first big face-to-face event gathered together 130 talented women in February 2020 for a full-day “Skillset Awareness” workshop. The aim was to address the problem that it was difficult for women to rotate positions due to a lack of required skills. Focusing on skill sets and technical knowledge, over 20 women speakers shared their roles, skills and smart working techniques in an engaging atmosphere. It was an event high in emotions, learning and very rewarding for both the participants as well as the speakers.
Despite the setback of the pandemic and lockdown, we tried to boost everyone’s morale and keep spirits up. By breaking new ground, we adapted our methods with online sessions and extra efforts in engaging people remotely in order to successfully execute our agenda.
In the end, we received great feedback as women had the opportunity to encourage each other, share and grow personally and professionally. Balu Vishnupriya, one of our Service Specialist said that thanks to the IWTC sessions,”I am able to build more confidence, discover more about myself, and it reminds me that I am not alone in this journey. When we know about others’ struggles and successes, it gives us confidence and strength to face all challenges with a smile.”
Encouraged by the success of our initiatives in 2020 and empowered by everything we had learnt, we made an ambitious calendar for 2021. Thanks to the commitment and passion of the core committee, we were able to implement all the actions, constantly adapting to the fluid situation created by the pandemic. We also made sure that our Pune unit participated more.
In 2022, we did things a bit differently. We identified themes for each quarter and organized activities around them such as leadership training and hard skills development workshops. We even flew people to Pune to do activities face to face.
Some of 2022’s highlights were our midyear conclave in June and a full-day celebration of diversity, equity and inclusion in December, which we hosted for the whole ITEC, both Chennai and Pune. The midyear conclave was a full-day event where 106 women came together to celebrate, share and learn from each other. It was packed with design-thinking workshops, inspiring keynotes, bonding activities, dance and laughter.
We closed this year with a full-day celebration where we were able to engage more than 1,000 people, men and women on DEI theme based activities. Our amazing activity line-up included cultural programs, a guest speaker on inclusion, competitions and even a flash mob! Each year has had a slightly different focus, but the goal remains the same, the development and empowerment of women in the technical industry at KONE India.
Change makers building a brighter future
For us, the future is now and we are taking the bull by the horns as we speak. We are still growing and taking on more responsibility, and we are lucky to have key stakeholders including the human resources department and our management team backing us and our work. Moreover, we are gaining more and more male allies within KONE, supporting our cause as well as our growth. For example, our male colleagues came to handle the training for IoT and Python. We are grateful for this support and we are aiming to reach even more people over the coming years.
To support our expansion aim, we are releasing a bi-annual IWTC newsletter, which gives details of upcoming events, recent achievements and what we are looking forward to. As of January 2023, I am passing the torch to the wonderful Swathi Kannan, one of our outstanding Agile Coaches here at KONE India. For 2023, the new council has great ambition and has an interesting plan in place. I am happy to be leaving the council in such great hands and will continue to be there for them when needed.
Last year I also became entrusted with the lead role for SPARK, KONE’s global employee resource group for women. I am working with an amazing core committee for SPARK and we have been making plans for 2023 at the global level. I am excited to see what the future holds. I believe that together we can foster positive change!