Independent managed IT experts Espria are celebrating diversity in the workplace this International Women’s Day (8th March 2022).
Assisting businesses nationwide with IT, Communications, Printing and Document Management solutions, Espria champions its employees who are committed to inspiring young women to take up STEM careers.
Rachel Thorne, Operations Excellence Director
Rachel Thorne started her journey at Espria in 2016 and is now pioneering an energised culture with the team at the heart of everything she does. Rachel ensures that performance goals are aligned to group strategy and provides the tools and processes for the team to be able to deliver excellence to clients across the group.
This International Women’s Day, Rachel looks back at how she started in the IT & Communications sector:
“I started out as a receptionist in my first office role, which opened pathways into the IT industry. My advice to women starting out in their career is to be brave, ask for what you want and be willing to take on new challenges. And don’t be afraid to fail. Making mistakes is how we learn, so all experiences are valuable.”
How can women in senior positions encourage more young women to consider a career in IT?
Rachel believes sharing experiences and mentoring is key.
“Encouraging other women to step forward is critical. Women need to feel confident in going for the promotion, and make sure they understand that diversity of ideas and opinions are welcomed in the workplace. The opportunities to be successful within the IT industry are there, sometimes it is about having the confidence to go for it.”
The concept of ‘Assertive vs Likable’ resonates with Rachel and defines how she approaches growth opportunities as a female leader in STEM.
“As a woman you are expected to present softer female traits, but as a leader, you are expected to be strong, often displaying more stereotypically masculine traits, but there is no reason women can’t do both. There can be a fine line in balancing the two, so not to be labelled bossy, but with confidence in your ability and the value you bring, it is often easier than you think.”
Who inspired you to pursue a role in STEM?
It was Rachel’s grandmother that truly inspired her professionally. She demonstrated that having the right attitude, confidence, being unafraid of doing the hard work herself and listening to people was profoundly important. Transferrable communications skills taught to her by her grandmother have been instrumental in developing relationships with suppliers, customers, and colleagues throughout her career.
Who has inspired you to break down barriers for women in the industry?
Rachel’s promotion into a leadership role is noted as the highlight of her career. She has made it her mission to battle the stereotype of women in this industry as being shy, or unconfident.
When asked about leaders she draws inspiration from, Rachel said that Queen Elizabeth II inspires her. This quote sums up why:
“When life seems hard the courageous do not lie down an accept defeat, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future” Queen Elizabeth II.
Rachel adds: “We (as women) don’t give up; we always find a way forward. We accept we will sometimes fail and that it will sometimes be difficult, but together we can overcome anything. I see International Women’s Day as an opportunity to uplift all women, recognise their achievements and reminisce on the achievements of great women who have changed and sculptured our society and our history from whose fortitude we can draw inspiration. I am truly proud to work with such a great team inspired by the role that strong women have played in this industry.”
HR Manager, Helen O’Hanlon
Creating opportunities for women at Espria
Addressing diversity and equality in the workplace, Espria HR Manager, Helen O’Hanlon comments on the challenges IT & Telecomms businesses face and how the team at Espria work hard to ensure their recruitment process upholds key principles:
“Through our recruitment it becomes clear that the industry is male gender dominated and this is potentially because historically the environment of sales is viewed as ‘tough’, so promoting the other qualities and how anyone is capable of the challenge of the sales environment is really important.
To ensure our employment is diverse and equal, we operate an equal opportunities policy for all of our recruitment and development within the business. We report the demographics to the SMT to look for patterns and improvements that can be made within the business. Going into 2022, our HR Strategy is reviewing women in business, which includes creating a mentor and coaching scheme for young leaders with a particular focus on female leadership.”