March 8th marks International Women’s Day. Women around the globe use this platform to express their ambitions but also their concerns about their roles in society on a professional level and also from a more personal point of view. At Broad Horizon, as part of our focus to create a vibrant employee climate, we want to make central to our agenda the success of women in our businesses, not just by taking a few tiny steps, but with big leaps and making commitments that are clear and practical. Talking about the strategy, ambition, and goals on how to attract more women in a male-oriented Tech industry and at Broad Horizon in particular, are Jean-Yves Charlier, CEO Broad Horizon and Melissa Uljevic, Head of HR at Broad Horizon.
For Jean-Yves, empowering women is an absolute priority at Broad Horizon and one that necessitates a people-centric approach. Making women successful in the Tech industry is a 3-dimensional imperative according to Jean-Yves: “First, to accelerate our success and growth at Broad Horizon, it is essential that we are able to recruit more talented women and make it immensely interesting for them to work in our businesses”.
”Europe will fall behind if it does not hold a strong position in the Tech sector.”
He continues: “Secondly, we need to rise to the challenge on a European level, by offering more career opportunities to women in Tech. This will allow Europe to acquire a stronger position in this strategic industry and ultimately compete more successfully against the U.S. and China”. Last but not least he adds: “it is our duty and a serious social mandate in this 21st century to offer equal opportunities for working men and women across the world”. According to Jean-Yves, the debate is much wider than that of the gender pay gap as it starts with education and getting more women trained in engineering, science, as well as math, making the sector more attractive for women, and seeing more women in technical roles and key positions within companies. This discussion also calls for a wider debate by getting local governments involved and requiring more CEOs to pick up the pace according to Jean-Yves.
”Our fundamental objective: 0% gender pay gap at Broad Horizon by 2025.”
On a more personal level, Jean-Yves has already set the mark by supporting his first two daughters to become ambitious young entrepreneurs. His daughters now have a successful business in the organic gluten-free bakery industry on the U.S. West Coast, with 65 employees, and 90% women in management! Jean-Yves is adamant: “Our society needs to have beacons of light for women in business and Broad Horizon needs to set the mark and make a difference in order to take the lead in the highly competitive Tech sector”, “Empowering women is of strategic importance and will be on everyone’s agenda at Broad Horizon; it will require the commitment and involvement of all our employees and all our businesses”.
”We need to change the overall mindset to have more women in influential roles.”
At the age of 40, Melissa has already achieved an impressive professional track record. Her career started at a small telecom player, gradually her HR knowledge progressed and after some valuable expertise at Tele2, she solely created the HR department at True. Meanwhile, Broad Horizon was expanding and thus the need for an HR department grew. In January 2020, Melissa was appointed Head of HR at Broad Horizon which proved a smart logical fit. “Currently 22% of our employees are women, it is our collective goal to increase this figure and thus stay ahead of the competition” Melissa states. “Unfortunately, there is still a stigma regarding career-driven women, with an unfair social attitude towards women in the workplace.” The fact that society as a whole is still caught up in standards is something Melissa deplores: “What is wrong with an ambitious career-driven woman? Why are certain professions still being labelled as female jobs? Why do women still too often automatically take a step back when they start a family?” She adds: ”Our end goal must be to get rid of these preconceptions and have an increasing number of women in influential positions within the working space.”
Melissa states: “There needs to be a fundamental change in the mindset of men and women alike.” Broad Horizon has already initiated the debate and has placed the empowerment of women in the workspace as one of its top strategic priorities, with a unanimous consensus at the Senior Management level. Not only seeing more women in influential positions but also opening up the debate on the gender pay gap. She continues; ”On a practical level, we will start with the salary benchmark to see how salaries compare to the market. The benchmark will also take place within our company, where identical male-female functions in the various businesses will be compared. The next step will be to ensure we can eliminate prejudices and start a dialogue with small groups in the different businesses. Our ultimate goal is to have more women with decision-making positions within the company and gradually narrow the gender pay gap.”
”Make this topic discussable at all levels.”
It is clear that the Senior Management team at Broad Horizon did not wait for International Women’s Day or deplore the debate following ‘The Voice of Holland’ victims. At Broad Horizon, this has been on the management agenda for quite some time and has already received the full support and commitment of both the Senior Management Team and the Extended Management Team.
In the coming weeks, we will invite several women within the company to do the talking with ‘Aspiring Women @ Broad Horizon’. What are their ambitions, fears, aspirations? Getting their point of view on necessary changes that will be required to ensure this vital debate is set for discussion and ready to take a turn for the better.