In a bid to bridge the gender gap in the technology space, Alcatel-Lucent has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UNESCO that will see the two organisations working together to promote gender diversity.
Alcatel-Lucent has been encouraging gender diversity through StrongHer, an internal employee network that drives awareness of the issue and launches diversity initiatives within the company. StrongHer started in 2011 as a grassroots movement by six female colleagues in France, but now has more than 1000 member in 50 countries and is regularly consulted by company management on diversity and other topics, according to the tech company.
The signing of the MoU with UNESCO reflects the success of StrongHer and global recognition of it as a best practice that could be replicated across all industries to address a clear need for greater gender diversity especially in the technology sector.
According to UNESCO, globally women make up only 29% of the world’s researchers, less than 10% of science advisory boards of the world’s top 100 high-tech companies and only 6% of CEOs of IT companies. Further, societies have created a culture that does not encourage girls to pursue scientific and engineering educations or even to express their ambition to do so.
Commenting on the agreement, Michel Combes, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent says “I am very proud to give my personal support, and that of Alcatel-Lucent, to this initiative with UNESCO. The technology industry – and, indeed, all industries – need to do much more to promote gender diversity at all levels. True innovation comes from human diversity creating a diversity of ideas, leading to invention that drives innovation within companies like Alcatel-Lucent. The StrongHer initiative is one example of diversity in action.”
The agreement was signed in UNESCO’s Paris headquarters by Michel Combes, Alcatel-Lucent CEO and Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General.