Emma Mullan headshot.
Emma Mullan: Image: Liberty IT

Mentors, career pivots and more: How this company supports women in the workplace

23 Mar 2023

Two Liberty IT Ireland employees tell SiliconRepublic.com about life at the company which was voted one of Ireland’s Best Workplaces for Women 2023.

Jayne Spalding has had a varied career. Now a product owner at Liberty IT, her CV includes stints as an aerobics teacher, bar worker, business analyst and kitchen salesperson.

After graduating from university at the age of 31, Spalding spent several years working at a bank. Then she went into business with her husband, running an antiques and pre-loved furniture shop. Next, a period doing temp work at a local university led to a compliance-focused role overseeing the attendance of the college’s international student base.

A major life change occurred at this point when Spalding moved to Ireland where her husband is from.

Naturally, a career change followed. Having heard great things from friends and former colleagues, she started working at Liberty IT.

“Liberty IT looked like a really great place to work – all the reviews I had read on the company showed that the company lined up well with the values that I hold dear,” Spalding tells SiliconRepublic.com.

Jayne Spalding headshot.

Jayne Spalding. Image: Liberty IT

Her values are mostly people-focused; and include putting people first, investing in people and also supporting and welcoming diversity – which she calls “an enriching factor of any company.”

“Added to that, some of my previous colleagues, whose opinions and judgement I really rate, had already made the move to Liberty IT and were singing its praises loud and clear. I was sold.”

Initially, Spalding started in a compliance role before retraining as a business analyst with the company’s support in a relatively short space of time. That ultimately evolved into the role of product owner.

“I joined Liberty IT just last year, but you can judge a company pretty well in a short space of time and they have been head and shoulders above previous companies that I have worked for, in every way that really matters.”

She is especially enthusiastic about Liberty IT’s status as a Great Place to Work for Women 2023.

“There is absolutely no sense that you are held back by being a woman at Liberty IT. And I do know what that feels like,” says Spalding, who had her daughter in her early twenties.

“Many companies pay lip service to supporting equality, in all its forms, while quietly still discriminating over who they give career opportunities to and whether they pay the same wage to a given individual for the same skills and experience.”

“There has been so much good work and progress in this area, but many companies still have far to go. For me, Liberty IT again stands above the other companies and institutions with which I have had personal experience.”

She is “not in the least surprised” that the company has been named one of Ireland’s Best Workplaces for Women 2023.

“Here, I am paid a fair wage for my skill-set and experience and I do not see any barriers to being able to progress as far as my ambition and interests take me,” she says.

Spalding’s experience is only a snapshot of the type of people the company invests in. Emma Mullan, senior director of talent at Liberty IT, explains that there is an ongoing series of L&D schemes – with many of these geared towards women.

How to support women in the workplace

The Women in Tech committee oversees regular networking events for women. There are also mentoring circles, workshops and buddy schemes.

New mothers are paid in full for the first six months of their maternity leave and flexible working arrangements are accommodating of childcare needs.

All new parents, not just mothers, are included in the company’s parental leave policy, however.

But, as Mullan acknowledges, “It is still the case that many women have additional caring responsibilities outside the workplace. And like we have done in Liberty IT, the industry on the whole needs to provide flexible workplaces and the time and support to develop networks, skills and careers.”

What advice would she give to companies that want to make their workplaces better for women?

She has several tips: coaching, mentoring, focus groups, listening to feedback from employees, eliminating gender bias from hiring processes and having “vocal male allies” for women are all good places to start.

And now to Spalding for some advice to women in the workplace. She says: “My key message to women out there would be that it is never too late to make changes in your career – if you have some bumps and stalls along the way, it’s probably just life opening up a new and potentially better pathway for you. You just have to have the courage to take it.

“Never stop learning and being curious and never let that voice inside your head that tells you you’re an imposter get the better of you. Life can be a marvellous and varied journey.”

Fittingly, Spalding says she’s now at a point in her career where she feels she can start paying it forward, as she puts it, by joining mentor groups to share her experiences and wisdom.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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