The recent International Women’s Day focused on a very powerful concept that caught my attention, “An Equal World is an Enabled World.” This is an idea that is particularly meaningful to me because it is so well aligned with Schneider Electric’s mission of enabling access to energy and digital as a basic human right. Even though the International Women’s Day event is wrapped up, this mission marches on in the days, months and years to come.
Many of us are already able to benefit from an “always on” digital economy—connecting people to jobs, opportunities and services, providing innovation gains and quality improvements, all at an unparalleled pace in history. At Schneider, we manage operations in over 1,000 sites worldwide, so we know the need for a seamless digital experience. Our mission and passion fuel our desire to enable workplace flexibility and collaboration, from anywhere and at any time, through the full potential of digital technology.
Yet, despite these global technological leap frogs, the digital divide persists. As of 2018, the International Energy Agency reports that 860 million people still have no access to electricity and we have a long way to go to meet the goal of universal access by 2030 set by Sustainable Energy for All. Although this gap affects all people, women in developing countries are largely impacted. A recent United Nations report highlights how “greater access to energy services can improve women’s health and well-being, free up their time and enable their economic empowerment.” We couldn’t agree more. Our vision for energy access is gender-agnostic, empowering all to make the most of their energy and resources.
Achieving Gender Parity in STEM Careers
This effort to expand technologies and provide access to energy will go a long way in lifting up women and families in their communities. The advent of such a transformation also begs the question, “how do we achieve gender parity with our teams that are defining the next gen of enabling tech?” International Women’s Day challenges young women to create innovation by focusing on science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) career development.
This must be a collective effort, with mentors sharing individual responsibility for preparing young women to excel in this transformation. For women looking to enter into STEM careers, here is some guidance that I’ve learned along my journey as a young engineer. First, it is important to participate in the local STEM community, bonding with peers and educators in science and math helps to create both a support system and healthy competition. Second, be strong and follow your dreams regardless of the setbacks. Third, find mentors who understand your goals and can help advise you along your journey. Lastly, be confident and stay true to yourself.
We’ve seen the advantages of a collective approach to connecting and empowering technical women firsthand. Our Barcelona-based Schneider women’s STEM group called “We Mean Tech” currently includes over 200 women across Iberia in STEM roles. Also, our Network of Schneider Women in Tech ambassadors promotes technical career paths for girls who may not have fully considered a STEM career. By connecting, supporting and empowering each other, these types of groups open opportunities for women and enhance their professional development.
Schneider Electric’s Commitment to Gender Equality and Inclusion
We focus on gender inclusion at all levels of the company. The commitment starts at the top, with our CEO Jean Pascal Tricoire. In 2019, Schneider increased its representation of women at intake to 41% and is poised to have 30% of its leadership roles occupied by women.
We commit to well-being, creating an environment where our employees can flourish. This gives a sense of empowerment and freedom that breeds innovation. Women entering our community will undoubtedly seek to establish work/life balance, but there is no magic answer or text book as to how to achieve that balance. As my colleague, Bushra Nasim shares her perspective of balancing her 2 young children and leveraging our global flexibility policies to ensure she can find a rhythm between family and work.
In my experience, you learn along the way and always listen to your gut. Having supportive families and friends and a work environment that supports balance makes it a lot easier to choose when necessary.
Join me in celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women as we observed International Women’s Day 2020 Sunday. And if you are a woman interested in evolving as a technical professional in an organization committed to workplace gender equality, we invite you to explore Schneider Electric career opportunities.
This article first appeared on the APC by Schneider Electric Blog: https://blog.apc.com/2020/03/13/enabling-equal-world-commitment-energy-digital-access/