Liberty IT recognised as one of the best workplaces for women

  • Emma McMullan and Jayne Spalding outline their career paths and how Liberty IT are evening out the playing field for women in tech

    Emma Mullan, Senior Director of Talent

    Q. What are some of the initiatives Liberty IT has in place to ensure it’s a good place to work for women?

    At Liberty IT, we are delighted to have been recognised once again as one of the Best Workplaces for Women by Great Place to Work UK for the second consecutive year, having made a concerted and continuous effort over the last number of years to ensure we attract and retain great female talent.

    We have an active Women in Tech committee in Liberty IT which has introduced a number of initiatives to support our female employees.  Alongside regular Women In Tech mingle events, which give female employees and their allies the opportunity to drop in and network, we have also set up Female Mentoring Circles and Buddy Schemes. All of these activities support our female employees in accessing and growing their internal networks and to avail of support from others while they grow their careers.

    We also designed and rolled out the “The Power in Me” workshops for all of our female employees. These workshops aimed to empower our female employees and offer support to overcome any perceived barriers to career success.  

    Alongside offering great flexible working arrangements, we are delighted to say that we have also recently revised our maternity policy and now offer all new mums full pay for the first six months of maternity leave, which will give added financial security to our female employees during this period of leave.  Our “Family Leave Toolkit” supports new parents to prepare for their maternity leave and upon returning from maternity leave we also offer coaching from an external coach, which helps to make the “back to work” adjustment easier. 

    Q. What more do you think needs to be done in the tech sector to ensure women are supported in the workplace?

    Girls in school should be encouraged to explore a career in technology and those interested need to be properly supported. The tech industry can play an important role in this, but more work needs to be done earlier in education so we can increase the supply of girls studying Technology at third level.

    Unfortunately, when girls do go on to study technology at third level, significantly fewer complete the courses than their male counterparts. We need to understand why this is happening and put measures in place to reverse the trend.

    The industry needs more female role models so that female students, both in school and third-level education, can see themselves working in the tech industry. At Liberty IT, we are proud of our female leaders and we are making a conscious effort to support and profile them – both externally and internally – as we know the important role we play in encouraging other females into the industry. 

    It is still the case that many women have additional caring responsibilities outside the workplace and like we have done in Liberty IT, the industry on the whole needs to provide flexible workplaces and the time and support to develop networks, skills and careers.  

    Q. What advice would you give to other managers/companies on how to become a better workplace for women?

    Ask yourself what else you need to implement to become a better workplace for women, for example, coaching, mentoring, and creating networks to ensure women have the environment to feel supported and thrive. We have found that running focus groups with our female employees, where we actively seek feedback has shown us where we need to direct our attention to.

    Consciously ensure there is no gender bias in your people processes. Review job specs, implement genderdiverse panels for recruiting where possible and allow flexible working patterns – as basic. Look at your family policies around leave, maternity and re-entering the work place.

    It is also important to have vocal male allies for female progression and that leaders in the organisation are clear champions for DEI.  Together these things make an organisation a safe and supportive environment for women to thrive and have great careers.

    Jayne Spalding, Product Owner, Liberty IT

    Q. Tell me a bit about your role and career background.

    Well, it’s been a varied journey. I had my daughter in my early 20s so I didn’t start my higher education and career ladder until later in life. But that really hasn’t stopped me!

    I graduated from University at the age of 31 and secured a graduate position with a well-known high street bank managing a team in their Mortgage Lending Centre. After eight years with the bank, I went into business with my husband, running an antiques and pre-loved furniture shop. Not long before the five year business lease was up, I started doing some additional temp work at the local University which ultimately led to my next full-time role. It was a compliance focused role overseeing attendance of the 6,000 strong International student base.

    I then moved to Ireland, where my husband is from, and started a new career journey. First with a compliance role (to get my foot through the door) and then I retrained, with the company’s support, to become a Business Analyst which ultimately evolved into the role of Product Owner, which I do today – and I love it! Not that I consider myself to be ‘done’ just yet – there’s still some mileage left in the tank and I am always interested in learning and evolving my career.

    I guess I feel lucky in many ways as opportunities have presented themselves as I have moved through my working life, but you can miss out if you don’t stay open to seeing those opportunities and taking a leap of faith from time to time.

    Q. What made you decide to work at Liberty IT?

    You’ve probably gathered from my career history that I like change and variety (did I mention that I’d also taught aerobics and designed and sold kitchens – not to mention the obligatory bar work and waitressing during my studies??).  

    So there I was on another career precipice and ready to make a change. Liberty IT looked like a really great place to work – all the reviews I had read on the company showed that the company lined up well with the values that I hold dear - putting people first, investing in people, supporting and welcoming diversity, an enriching factor of any company, and also having an approach that didn’t shy away from embracing new technologies and exploring how they can be harnessed to deliver real customer value.

    Added to that, some of my previous colleagues, whose opinions and judgement I really rate, had already made the move to Liberty IT and were singing its praises loud and clear. I was sold!

    I joined Liberty IT just last year, but you can judge a company pretty well in a short space of time and they have been head and shoulders above previous companies that I have worked for, in every way that really matters. From the really personable recruitment experience, to the supportive onboarding process, the great internal communications, the welcoming team and a manager that makes it clear from day one that they want to help you develop your potential in whatever career path works for you at Liberty.  What a great experience it has been!

    Q. What makes Liberty IT a good place to work for women?

    There is absolutely no sense that you are held back by being a woman at Liberty IT. And I do know what that feels like. Many companies pay lip service to supporting equality, in all its forms, while quietly still discriminating over who they give career opportunities to and whether they pay the same wage to a given individual for the same skills and experience.

    There has been so much good work and progress in this area, but many companies still have far to go. For me, Liberty IT again stands above the other companies and Institutions with which I have had personal experience.  Here I am paid a fair wage for my skill-set and experience and I do not see any barriers to being able to progress as far as my ambition and interests take me. I am not in the least surprised that the company has once again been named one of the UK’s Best Workplaces for Women.

    I feel genuinely excited about my future with Liberty IT and I’m even more excited now I am here, than before I joined – and that speaks volumes! I’m looking forward to getting involved in the mentoring programmes to ‘pay it forward’ by sharing my experiences to support others and to benefit from the support of others in return.

    My key message to women out there would be that it is never too late to make changes in your career – if you have some bumps and stalls along the way, it’s probably just life opening up a new and potentially better pathway for you. You just have to have the courage to take it. Never stop learning and being curious and never let that voice inside your head that tells you you’re an imposter get the better of you!  Life can be a marvellous and varied journey.

Share this story