Technology services company Avanade has developed a mentoring programme to help connect female charity workers with technology and management mentors.

In partnership with not-for-profit organisationThe Aspire Foundation, Avanade will be selecting

internal mentors to upskill women who are interested in learning more about management, leadership and technology.

By offering these mentoring sessions to women, Avanade hopes they will be able to take a different approach to problem solving, use technology more efficiently to do their jobs and act as role models to others wanting careers in technology and management.

“The Aspire Foundation’s core purpose is to invite women from the charity sector and social enterprise to come in to an online platform and seek support from skilled professionals such as the Avanade people,” said Vikki Leach, director of corporate citizenship at Avanade.

“The purpose of it is to mentor them and provide guidance so they can feel empowered and more upskilled to help those in need.”

By partnering with The Aspire Foundation, Avanade hopes it can leverage its global teams to provide mentorship and access to technology for one billion women by 2020.

The first mentorship pairing will take place between Avanade’s CEO Adam Warby and the The Aspire Foundation’s founder and CEO Sam Collins.

“We’re looking from the graduates joining the organisation right through to our CEO, who has two mentees,” said Leach.

“We want to give those women a chance to thrive in their roles. Perhaps they don’t have the resources or the training budget we have internally, so that’s our mission.”

Although the programme might result in some women choosing to use their new skills to change direction with their career and take an IT job, Leached admitted this is not the main goal of the initiative.

“This is more about creating a multiplier effect or a ripple effect. We’re empowering and upskilling The Aspire Foundation, which will, in turn, empower and upskill those in need in the communities we work in,” said Leach.

“We’re also reaching out to our own clients and other corporates, so this is a campaign and a movement. We want to leverage the movement to help The Aspire Foundation reach that goal.”

Avanade does a lot internally to ensure a diverse organisation, with its workforce being around 20% female. The organisation thinks it is important to train women who interact with communities and have an influence on those around them.

“We need to keep talking with women and keep building that relationship because research states that women don’t just jump quickly, they like to make sure that their whole environment is supported. That’s how we work with them to help them to join Avanade,” said Leach.

Scholarships to study Stem subjects

The firm has also set up a partnership programme with three universities worldwide to act as scholarships for girls who would not otherwise attend higher education.

“This is another commitment we’ve made to support young women who may have otherwise opted out of education to continue and further their career and their education in Stem [science, technology, engineering and mathematics],” said Leach.

“It’s life changing and makes a difference. They would not go to university if it weren’t for our funding and support. We’re going to support them throughout their education.”

The “15 for 15” will train 15 girls every year, and Avanade will build a portfolio of universities and help them to promote Stem subjects in the future.

“We’re really building a relationship with these universities, and closing the gap between industry and academia is really important for helping to raise awareness of bringing women into Stem,” said Leach.

“We’ve got to start now. It starts at school level and goes right the way through.” …………………………………………………………….

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