By Patricia Widmer, Programme Head "Women Back to Business”, University of St. Gallen
Switzerland is a diverse country of three cultures and three languages, but when it comes to gender equality, particularly in the workplace, we are European laggards.
For example, only one in five company directors in Switzerland are female, with a high number of women in part-time work due to the slow adoption of policies that support working mothers.
But where there are challenges, there is potential for change.
Mothers out of work or working part-time are a huge untapped talent pool for Swiss businesses that lack highly qualified employees. At the University of St. Gallen we designed the "Women Back to Business" (WBB) programme to help women return to the workforce or reposition themselves in the job market after a career break with confidence and up-to-date knowledge.
Essentially a ‘mini MBA’ programme, WBB equips women with the latest managerial concepts spanning strategy, marketing, HR and project management. Skills workshops and modules are accompanied by group and individual coaching sessions that offer support and encourage personal development.
WBB meets technology in the ServiceNow ecosystem
We are always looking to evolve our programme to best meet the needs of our participants. We also need to ensure that their newly-acquired skills are relevant to potential employers and the demand in the job market.
The technology sector in Switzerland, as in many other countries, is very male-dominated, but I’m seeing a big intent now from some businesses to make a change. For example, leading IT services companies such as ServiceNow and DXC Technology, who are increasingly looking to hire from diverse talent pools to support their business growth.
Our partnership with ServiceNow’s NextGen team and their Global Elite Partner DXC Technology has resulted in a hugely valuable new collaboration with the WBB programme – an eight-week flexible training programme that enables women who were already in the programme to enter the world of work specifically in the ServiceNow ecosystem.
Following a System Admin Pathway, this training provides strong foundational ServiceNow skills and access to the ServiceNow Certified System Administrator certificate. Upon completion, our students are equipped with the skills required to work with one of the fastest growing technology platforms in the world.
A platform to help secure employment
This new programme has been created and implemented by ServiceNow’s Next Gen Program that aims to make careers in technology accessible to diverse and often underprivileged social groups. Mentoring, coaching and creating opportunities to inspire and innovate are just as important here as providing the latest knowledge.
Ultimately, our goal is to get women back into work, so we strive to provide our WBB programme participants with early access to potential employers and internship opportunities to facilitate their job hunting.
The ServiceNow module goes a step further by bringing DXC Technology, into the learning process to create a link directly to employment while the course is in progress.
The first participants to complete this new ServiceNow module at the end of January 2020 are already going through the shortlisting process, with DXC Technology looking to hire the best candidates as business and technical consultants by 1st of March 2020.
As with any collaboration, its success is determined by those organisations that are involved and how they work together. Our one-of-a-kind partnership with ServiceNow and DXC Technology is proving to be incredibly successful because of our shared values of diversity and inclusion, and of creating opportunities for people from a variety of backgrounds.
The skills for tomorrow
Having spent a number of years abroad with my family and then completing advanced studies before returning to work, I can certainly relate to the women attending our WBB programme.
“I once had a rich professional career in IT until I became a mother and lost my subject matter expertise. The collaboration between ServiceNow, DXC and the University of St. Gallen has created an amazing opportunity to re-skill individuals and has given me everything I need to learn skills that are in high demand,” noted one of the students.
There are many others that tell me how the coaching and the interaction with other women has helped them regain their confidence. They discover new possibilities and opportunities for themselves and their careers that indeed transform their lives in the long term.
I believe the word “future” is particularly important here. By combining strategic management knowledge with the ServiceNow foundational skills, our participants are in a very strong position to succeed in the fast-evolving digital economy — not just today, but in the future.
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