Making a difference – Case Study – Chess ICT Empowering Women Programme

Engaging women at all levels to fulfill their potential.

Having recently delivered the final workshop for Chess ICT’s Empowering Women Programme it seems a good time to look back and review what it was all about…

Launched on International Women’s Day 2017, and rolled out for a second time on International Women’s Day 2018, the Chess Empowering Women Programme designed and developed by Women to Work founders Emma Shute and Jenny Pollock “has been a real ‘game changer’ for Chess ICT” says Kate Wood, Director of Culture at Chess ICT currently Number 1 in the 2018 Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Chess ICT aims to be a trailblazing organisation, improving gender balance in technology and supporting women at all levels in the organisation. As an organisation that places great importance and focus on its culture Chess ICT worked with Women to Work to create the Empowering Women Programme, the objectives being to:

  • Empower women in the organisation to “be brave”
  • Engage & support women at all levels, to maximise their potential
  • Improve gender balance across the organisation
  • Increase the number of women at senior levels
  • Become a great place to work for women

The programme has 3 elements offering support to women at all levels in the organisation – Courageous Women for non managerial women to develop their professional capabilities, have greater job satisfaction and plan their career pathway at Chess; Maximising Female Potential for female team leaders who may have aspirations for a more senior leadership role and want to gain an understanding of their leadership skills and Being a Role Model for senior female leaders who want to become motivational role models and build their mentor potential so they can support and inspire other women at Chess.

And the feedback from women on the programmes has been extremely positive …..

And that’s not all.

Alongside the Empowering Women Programme Women to Work also worked with Chess ICT to do a research study.

This research was carried out in advance of launching the Empowering Women Programme to look at the current gender picture and the views of Chess people around some important criteria. The overall aims of the research were to:

  • Present the current gender balance picture(number of males and females in certain roles) which could then be used to measure against at defined future points
  • Consider the views of Chess people around the characteristics that both men and women bring to their roles and to leadership which can then be used to inform recruitment, training and development initiatives
  • Gather ideas for specific initiatives and policiesthat have an impact on women (and men) at Chess – flexible working & maternity / paternity policies
  • Pull together ideas for women’s professional developmentat Chess for now and the future.

Pull together ideas for women’s professional developmentat Chess for now and the future.

The research data was gathered using a variety of research methods to ensure a depth of information and a broad representative sample of people from all stakeholder groups. Both quantitative and qualitative questions were used and methods included; email questionnaires, telephone interviews and focus groups.

Already initiatives have been put in place.

“Off the back of the programme we have already improved our maternity and paternity offering, added “Harvest Festival” days to our benefit offering, this allows our people to never miss an event at their child’s school. We have created parent champions to support our people. Several women have gone for promotion or changed role after taking part in the programme and have publicly acknowledge that it has made them feel more confident.”

said Kate Wood, Culture Director

“We are continually amazed by the speed and reactivity of Chess to improve and implement new initiatives based on the information they learned from the research” says Emma “it is wonderful for Jenny and myself to see such an immediate impact from the work we are doing.”

Women to Work is a business with social aims founded by Emma Shute and Jenny Pollock that started with a conversation about the unfulfilled female potential they could see all around them and became a passionate aspiration for them both to make a difference to support women’s development at all levels.

Jenny believes

“these are exciting times for Women to Work and for women’s development, with so many local and global initiatives taking place. We love the work we do and are continually inspired by the women, men and organisations that we meet along the way and believe that by working together we can create a better working environment for all”

Emma Shute & Jenny Pollock are the founders & coaches of Women to Work.

For more information about Women to Work contact Emma Shute and Jenny Pollock.