Text by Tanya Wolf
Photos by Angela Dannhorn, Petra Ehrmann, Tanya Wüthrich
We Shape Tech received a very big and positive feedback during the first months. Right now the board is busy to funnel this energy in order to shape a good positioning for our network in the future. Two workshops were held in the last few weeks with a small audience. One with members from our network and the other with companies. I conducted a mail-interview or this occasion with the initiators Marike, Janine, Angela, Petra and Tanya. Read on for more information.
What was the purpose of the workshops?
The idea for a social club is around since our first We Shape Tech event. We started some discussions about the membership itself and learned that we have different ideas about that in the board. All of us have a lot of experience with user-centered approaches so the idea to ask our members to share their desires came up pretty fast. We invited women who are representative for our diverse network in order to achieve insights and validate our hypotheses. This was very exciting.
Our goals were a better understanding for the challenges that our members face with respect for diversity and to shape solution approaches. Our main question was how a social club like We Shape Tech could support these challenges in a most effective way.
How many women attended the workshop?
We opted for a small audience on purpose. About twelve participants with different backgrounds in working experience and seniority (some self-employed, some employed) were invited. The participants worked in two groups on location.
Which topics were on your list?
Our focus was a better understanding how our members perceive diversity. And we liked to know better how We Shape Tech can support them with respect to diversity management. So the overall topic was about positioning.
Has diversity an economic flavour too?
We were pleased how much diversity is anticipated as an economic topic. Sure it is all about fairness too but everyone here in the board knows that this is nothing that is thrilling for a manager. So it was accordingly great for us to learn that all participants of the workshop rated the economic meaning on a high level too. Enterprises that manage diversity and inclusion on an active basis are more likely to be successful than enterprises with a homogenous staff. Because teams with diversity are likely to be more stable, flexible and more innovative. All our participants agreed to that.
Similarly nobody pictures herself in a victim role. Each of our participants are aware that they need to actively manage themselves when it comes to diversity. But nevertheless: companies have a need to work on themselves, a need to bring diversity to their management level and a need to promote people that are not do not comply to the current stereotypes.
So We Shape Tech acts as a mediator too?
Yes indeed. We wanted to hear from our participants how to give a better support. What needs to be offered by We Shape Tech on a practical level, what helps in daily life? We learned a lot during these workshops. Let me share some key points here: We like to be a door opener between our members and the companies. We like to enable a stronger learning curve from each other and we like to match specifically between different seniority levels. We see everyday how younger women benefit from the more experienced and we know that they are eager for these contacts too.
And you did a company workshop too, didn’t you?
Yes, we were hosting a workshop for decision makers one week later. This one was dedicated to a deeper understanding for the company needs when it comes to diversity issues. And we were eager to learn more about the self-awareness of these companies.
It showed that most of the attending companies need to catch up when it comes to diversity.
But sometimes “privilege is invisible to those who own it” applies for everyone. This is especially true if companies are aware that not only too few women are applying for their jobs but also too few applications are successful in the end. We had some pretty exciting discussions there!
What are the next steps?
We are busy to consolidate the outcomes of both workshops. A blueprint for personal memberships as well as company memberships is in the making. We are looking forward to challenge this blueprint again.
And there is another focus topic for the board: We focussed a lot on Gender Diversity during the first months. How can we expand that without loosing the original character of We Shape Tech.
Finally, perhaps a short personal impression of you, Marike?
A heartfelt thanks is pretty easy. We receive so much positive feedback for everything we do. This is just fun! And it proofs that diversity is not a yesterday’s issue at all – no matter whether we talk about Gender Diversity or about the overall aspects of Diversity. We really need this discussion and we feel honoured to moderate and shape an important part of it.
The next event will pick this up, right?
Yes. We are happy to continue that discussion on the 5th of October at Google, Zurich. This time we are going to welcome four companies. They are looking forward to share their views and lessons learned about Diversity. I am sure this will be another exciting event and I hope to welcome many familiar and new faces as well.