As CEO of BT Ireland, Colm O’Neill recognises he has a responsibility to ensure the ongoing promotion of greater diversity within his organisation, he told Tuesday’s Women Invent Meet-up in Dublin.
O’Neill was speaking at Silicon Republic’s event last night, on behalf of BT Ireland, which sponsored the evening.
He began by recounting how a close bereavement had encouraged him to take part in Movember this month, and how the ladies fighting for breast cancer awareness had inspired him.
He pointed to Silicon Republic’s top 100 women in STEM list, and said how proud he was that at least eight people from the “extended BT family” – from BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition judges to four previous Young Scientist winners – had featured on the list.
O’Neill pointed out that the 168-year-old company prides itself on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, in particular ensuring women occupy senior positions. Today, 30pc of the BT board is female, he said, as is 21pc of BT’s senior management team.
“The statistic of which I’m most proud, though, is that of people who take maternity leave, 93pc return and are still in the workplace six months after they return,” said O’Neill.
However, he added that as CEO, he had a responsibility to ensure ongoing diversity in the organisation.
“If we can fix diversity issues in our companies it will lead to better financial results and a better work environment for all our people.”
He noted in particular the challenge in education in attracting young women into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
However, recent figures on record entries to the 51st BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition show encouraging signs. Some 4,616 students submitted 2,077 projects and of those, 54pc of entries are from females and 46pc are from males.
Watch O’Neill deliver his talk at the Women Invent Meet-up here:
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