Home » International Women's Day » Diversity and inclusion initiatives to boost talent retention and innovation in STEM

Siobhan Byrne

Director, Reconciliation and Bank Relationship Oversight, Fidelity Investments

Eimear Coffey

VP, Programme Management, Fidelity Investments

Fiona Brett

VP, Technology Management, Fidelity Investments

Unlock the power of genuine diversity and inclusion initiatives. Gather insights from industry leaders on fostering innovation and talent retention through inclusive practices.

Companies should take diversity and inclusion (D&I) extremely seriously, insists Siobhan Byrne, Director, Reconciliation and Bank Relationship Oversight, Fidelity Investments. From a business perspective, creativity comes naturally when you have diversity, which helps attract and retain the best talent.

“It’s why diversity and inclusion are ingrained in everything we do,” says Byrne. “Yes, D&I has become a bit of a buzzword, but think of it this way: it’s about ‘belonging’ — a way to help associates feel that they truly belong in your company.”

Eimear Coffey, VP, Programme Management, Fidelity Investments, points out that D&I has another vital function. “The diversity of our teams mirrors the diversity of our customers,” she says. “If everyone acted and thought the same way, we wouldn’t be able to deliver the best products. When a team is diverse, everyone brings a different dynamic to the table, which fosters collaboration and greater creativity. That’s when the magic happens.”

Creating initiatives to promote gender diversity

Fiona Brett, VP, Technology Management, Fidelity Investments, has seen the impact of effective D&I policies up close. “Diversity attracts diversity,” she says. “It’s a way to encourage engagement and help your people embrace their differences. That’s why we’ve embraced it and why we’re focused on taking it to the next level.” Indeed, they have developed a range of initiatives to promote gender diversity within their own workplace and the wider STEM industry.

Diversity attracts diversity.

Fiona Brett

Initiatives engaging students and apprentices

Coffey believes that STEM career encouragement must start early, which is why the company has teamed with Junior Achievement Ireland on an initiative called ‘Our World.’ Here, volunteers from the company visit primary schools, aiming to encourage thousands of fifth-class students to study STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) subjects.

The investment company has also partnered with the University of Galway and nationwide outreach engagement project ‘CodePlus,’ aiming to overcome the gender imbalance in computer science and information and communication technology (ICT) at third-level institutions.

“We invite female secondary school students to visit the company, meet our female tech colleagues and see what a career in the industry is really like,” urges Coffey. “We hope they’ll think: ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”

In her spare time, Coffey is an executive sponsor of Jump2IT, an in-house programme that supports associates who join the company via its FIT apprenticeship pathway. “Jump2IT associates add so much to our organisation,” she says. “The programme is a means to support them as they move through their careers with professional and technical skills training and mentorship opportunities.”

Supporting female technologists to develop their careers

Fiona Brett, meanwhile, is the co-creator and co-lead of PropelHER. This is an internal programme, aiming to help female technologists pursue and progress their careers and overcome barriers that stop them from fulfilling their potential. “It’s so important for a business to attract female talent,” says Brett.

“And when you have that talent, you want to keep it, so we wanted to create a network that supports and encourages our women in technology and give them a platform to articulate their career ambitions.”

Special interest inclusion groups for all employees

The company has 23 special interest groups with over 75% of employees voluntarily signed up for one or more — a testament to the fact that there really is a place for everyone. These groups include Pride, for LGBTQ+ members of staff; Enable, for colleagues with seen or unseen disabilities; RAISE for working parents and a Women’s Leadership Group, to name a few. “These groups build a sense of community and ensure that everyone feels supported to bring their full selves to work,” explains Byrne.

Coffey, Brett and Byrne passionately contribute to these initiatives in their spare time. “We hope these programmes and initiatives create change and make a real difference for women in the company — and those yet to join,” concludes Coffey.

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