Facebook and Citi discuss why diversity is good for business

27 Feb 2015

Veronica Marshall, learning and development lead, Facebook Dublin, speaks at the Women in Technology Group launch at Citi Ireland

While Citi’s Irish base has a favourable 50-50 gender split, its technology division – which employs 400 people – is only 15pc female. It’s these stats that the company’s new Women in Technology Group aims to change.

The Citi Ireland Women in Technology Group launched earlier this month and is the first of its kind for the multinational financial services company.

“There’s definitely a global need for more technologists, but there isn’t a very high female representation when it comes to that specific sector,” said Cecilia Ronan, Citi Ireland’s chief administrative officer (CAO) and head of Dublin’s Citi Service Centre, as she opened the event.

And so, discussion followed on how to achieve greater gender diversity in tech and in business generally. Veronica Marshall, learning and development lead for Facebook Dublin, began with a presentation on how the company behind the world’s biggest social network works to attract and retain female employees.

Out of 1.3bn Facebook users, 50pc are women, but only 15pc of its engineers represent that vast demographic. Facebook is trying to address this imbalance by changing both its policies and its culture.

“We’re not doing this because it’s nice to do,” Marshall asserted. “There is also a real business case for this. If we want to build apps for women, if we want to build products for women, if we want to build products for different cultures and nationalities, we have to have them represented within our workforce.”

Following her presentation, Marshall was joined by Deepak Jain, Citi’s head of EMEA Operations & Technology (O&T) and regional CIO for EMEA; Derek Rego, global head of TTS Technology at Citi; and Alistair Grant, Citi’s O&T CIO and regional head of Citi Technology Infrastructure.

Their panel discussion centred on the best methods to encourage female involvement in the technology workforce. Some of these tried-and-tested methods were as subtle as adjusting the language used in recruitment – a small change that can have a big impact.

“We owe it to use different terminology, to change the paradigm of what it is we’re looking to recruit and what it is we’re trying to promote. And we all have a responsibility, I believe, to do that,” said Grant.

By the close of the event, it was clear that the three male representatives – each of them holding powerful positions within Citi internationally – were dedicated allies to the Women in Technology Group and its agenda. This commitment echoed Ronan’s opening address in which she noted, “The only way that this change can happen, is through the men.”

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

Inspire 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-19 June in Dublin, connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Buy your early bird tickets now

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic