Colt Network 25 event unpacks diversity in womens groups

Colt Network 25 event unpacks diversity in women's groups

 October 03, 2022

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Colt's women's network, Network 25, exists to promote diversity and gender balance with the company, and engages with all employees to enable Colt's women to thrive.

Colt Communications Lead for Network 25, Sarah Homewood, discusses why there’s no silver bullet when it comes to diversity, and shares insights from the Network 25 event on diversity in women's groups.

Employer committed to inclusion and diversity

Colt knows that inclusion and diversity is the belief that every single individual matters. Network 25 exists to connect all kinds of people together through events to raise awareness and discuss important issues related to women. It also provides mentoring to support women’s development and partners with schools to work on equal opportunities for girls.

"It’s complicated, the idea that groups established to champion diversity can instead be the opposite," says Sarah.

"Women’s groups, in particular, have long been accused of deliberately keeping men out, or only having certain types of women joining, hence making a group designed around inclusivity and diversity only further preaching to the converted and not bringing about any real change," she comments.

Maintaining a safe environment for women

Colt Network 25 diversity and inclusion in women's groups

This was the idea tackled at a Network 25 event, unpacking the concept of ‘Do women’s groups have a diversity problem?

The panel, that consisted of individuals from within Colt and also members of other sectors, resoundingly said yes, these groups have a diversity problem. But it’s not that simple.

Daniel K. Winterfeldt, Founder & Chair of the InterLaw Diversity Forum and Partner, US Securities, Global Capital Markets, with Reed Smith explains that “there’s no silver bullet” when it comes to diversity, and it’s “a set-up to think that women’s groups are going to solve all these problems.”

However, they can definitely do more when it comes to allyship.

"Inviting men to the party, so to speak, was a hot topic on the night with the views being split around how do we get men to support women’s networks, but still maintaining a safe environment for the women who use these groups as a place to really be themselves," explains Sarah.

"One of the suggestions for solving this was having specific communications, separate newsletters and events for allies of the networks, but still keeping some events gender or groups specific, so that members still feel they have that space they need," she adds.

Involving the change-makers

However, it was agreed that for women’s networks to really get traction within a corporate environment, they need to engage men.

“If we don’t have the change-makers involved, the change won’t happen,” says Keri Gilder, Colt’s Chief Commercial Officer,

"It does feel easy sometimes to level criticism at women’s groups. It’s probably because they have been the most visible networking group for some time," comments Sarah.

The panel also discussed why there is still a need for women's groups, with the answer centering around organisational culture. Some businesses don’t need women’s groups, but many still have a culture that isn’t fully inclusive and diverse, making the role of such groups still vital in pushing for change.

“People who say that we don’t need women’s groups have never had to justify why they are there,” comments Veronica Hollingsworth, Enterprise Sales with Adobe.

Colt thanks all the participants on its panel, including: Sonya Barlow, Founder of Like Minded Females; Veronica Hollingsworth, Enterprise Sales with Adobe; Mark Beeden, Vice President of Customer Service with Colt; Delfina Grossi, Regional Account Executive, Global Clients & Agency Solutions with Google UK; and Daniel K. Winterfeldt Founder & Chair of the InterLaw Diversity Forum & Partner, US Securities, Global Capital Markets, with Reed Smith; as well as Keri Gilder, Colt's Chief Commercial Officer.

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