“IT is a great opportunity for women”
Sylvie Clémot, Global Head of Digital Workplace Services at Societe Generale, has been striving to improve diversity in the workplace for several years. Sylvie is an IT engineer who has spent most of her career working in IT infrastructure. She is convinced that IT is an opportunity for women... and that they should not let it pass them by!
You are a member of Féminin by Societe Generale. What is this association’s goal?
Many women work in the banking sector, but they mainly have operational positions. The objective of Féminin by Societe Generale is to give women in the Group the means to access higher levels of responsibility; to help them be more visible and to progress.
The association organises events, including personal development workshops, mentoring sessions and conferences on diversity issues with expert guest speakers from outside the Group.
Studies show that women spend much less time networking than men, because they see it as less important. This is what attracted me to Féminin by Societe Generale - it’s a network of women from all the Bank’s entities.
You have also been a Capital Filles mentor for several years. What does this involve?
Capital Filles is a programme under which female employees from large companies support girls studying in senior high schools in disadvantaged or rural areas. The idea is to enable them to learn about traditionally male jobs and sectors and to help them prepare their future careers.
The social dimension of this initiative is very important for me: I was born in Aulnay-sous-Bois, in Seine-Saint-Denis, and I went to school there. I am firmly convinced that people in disadvantaged neighbourhoods have many qualities, but I also believe that they do not enjoy equal opportunities. It is our responsibility as a society to help them build a better future.
Why is it important to encourage women to consider a career in IT?
Well, first of all because women make up half of the population! There is absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t make up half of all IT workers. IT jobs require intelligence, diligence and people skills, and women have as many of these qualities as men.
And also because IT is a great career opportunity for women. It’s a sector with growing employment prospects and its activities are always changing, allowing employees to constantly evolve and develop their skills.
What can be done to ensure that women do not let this opportunity pass them by?
Firstly, we need to remove the psychological barriers that stop girls from choosing IT. This seems obvious, but it is also extremely difficult to do. We need to seek out girls in junior high schools, or even earlier! We must open their eyes to the many and diverse opportunities available in IT.
The second thing we can do is to make IT jobs more attractive. We are making progress with this. In engineering schools, both women and men now realise that IT has a great future.
And finally - and we have begun to do this at Societe Generale - why not try to encourage women to choose IT as a career change? We are living in a world where jobs are changing very fast. Some will disappear as processes are automated. But the people who do these jobs have a lot to offer the Group. If we manage to convince women that IT jobs are the jobs of the future, and that they can do them, they will be better represented.
A final comment?
My ambition has always been to strike a balance between my personal life and my career. Or should I say, my professional fun - being able to do something I enjoy and feeling like I’m contributing something real. I just had to find my path! I hope all women can do the same.
Sylvie Clémot, Global Head of Digital Workplace Services at Societe Generale