Colt Technology Services Network 25 helps forge gender balance

Colt Technology Services Network 25 helps forge gender balance

 September 27, 2022

 Read time

Colt's Network 25 aims to promote diversity and gender balance, while engaging with all employees to support the company's women to thrive.

Jenni Sach, Director, Global Business Partner Marketing with Colt, and Rachel Collins, Head of Inclusion & Diversity with Colt, discuss Network 25.

Diverse companies are more innovative, collaborative and successful

Jenni has worked in the field marketing sector for almost two decades and is the co-lead of Network 25, Colt’s global women’s group.

Rachel has worked with Colt for over a decade and leads on the inclusion agenda, forming part of Colt’s wider Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy.

"To achieve our vision, we need everyone’s support – we all benefit as diverse companies are more innovative, more collaborative and more successful. To continue the work we do at Colt, we are partnering with other great women’s networks to promote gender balance in our industry," comments Jenni.

What is Network 25 and why was it set up?

Created when Colt was 25 years old, Network 25 was formed because at that time only 25 per cent of Colt was made up of women, hence the name. Three years on, women are now 30 per cent of Colt's workforce, but the company still has a way to go.

As a network, it connects all kinds of people together through events to discuss important issues, mentoring to support women’s development and partnering with schools to work on equal opportunities for girls.

"It started from the ground up, with many Colt employees expressing the need for a space for everyone to be able to talk openly and share. There are chapters across all of Colt, in countries from India to Italy, and everyone is welcome to join – it’s not exclusive to women but is for anyone who supports our goal of a more gender-balanced workforce," say Jenni and Rachel.

"Network 25 is actively involved in holding events, and providing training and mentoring opportunities in Colt. We are also very active in the community, working with various charities that support women," they comment.

How many active members are there in the women’s network?

"To put a specific number, I’d say we have around 500 active members, but participation is much larger. All our events are open to all Colt employees. And when we first formed the network, women made up 25 per cent of the Colt workforce, whereas it is now around 31 per cent!," say Jenni and Rachel.

What activities ocur?

Network 25's activities align within the three pillars of events, community outreach and development:

  • Events – Network 25 runs virtual and face-to-face events with Colt. It also collaborates with women’s groups in other tech companies. Some recent event topics have included leadership styles, making the most of mentors and networking, how to be an active bystander and domestic violence
  • Community outreach – it runs mentoring programmes with girls who are thinking about a career in the tech industry. It also works with charities such as Dress for Success, which helps empower women to achieve economic independence, and Bloody Good Period, who are taking steps to tackle period poverty. In India it recently worked with a charity that supports women to set up their own small business
  • Development – by focusing on development specifically, it aims to support members in increasing their confidence, step up to leadership positions and reach career goals. One of Network 25's main focuses for development is running group mentoring circles with experts. For example, groups of around six individuals may meet with a mentor who will share their own personal experience on a topic, such as motherhood and work. These groups have been so successful, participants tend to stay in touch and have regular meet ups outside Network 25

What activities and events support menopause symptoms at work?

Network 25's event with a doctor on the menopause was attended by over 100 guests.

"The insights into symptoms and how to recognise them really resonated, with many agreeing GPs may not initially associate symptoms with the menopause. The session highlighted the importance of personally knowing what to look out for if someone is struggling," explain Jenni and Rachel.

"Post event we always send resources out, such as links to charities, detailed information on symptoms, and the names of local organisations to contact for support," they add.

What changes has the network instigated for menopause policies?

Network 25 decided to create guidance documents for people experiencing menopausal symptoms and also for managers who want to know how to support someone in their team going through this.

"Booking a meeting with your manager can be daunting, but having a guidance document that outlines managing symptoms at work is a practical tool for all employees and managers, that can help people to have that conversation," say Jenni and Rachel.

"As our organisation is global, we made sure we signposted links to helpful charities and organisations that support women in all our locations."

Was it difficult for people to talk openly about menopause?

"At Colt, our company culture is very open and our leadership team is very supportive, something that has really helped us hold events that explore wellbeing and gender diversity," comment Jenni and Rachel.

"Colt has also introduced mental health first aiders, where we have 60 people globally in place to support employees. By having these discussions openly, we are uncovering more information, challenging taboos and learning all the time."

Did the pandemic have any impact on Network 25?

"The main difference we experienced was an increase in participation because all our events became virtual, which opened up the possibility to reach our entire English-speaking audience," they say.

What did you do for International Women’s Day?

Network 25 held many amazing activities running across the organisation worldwide.

"In Asia, we focused on financial planning and investment for women. In the UK, we focused on leadership styles and the path to leadership. In India, the focus is around our charity partnership that helps women in the community set up small businesses," explain Jenni and Rachel.

"We have also released a video celebrating some extraordinary women from history who have pushed boundaries in STEM and made a significant contribution to gender equality worldwide."

Group mentoring through Network 25 

In need of a new way to connect with each other in the virtual world, Colt's committee set up small group mentoring sessions via video call. With topics such as resilience, bravery, networking and cross-functional career moves, they provide not only a vital space to talk about personal development, but also a place to network with members and allies from all levels of the business across the globe.

Network 25 rolled out the Best Brave Self programme, our development workshops about confidence, bravery, resilience and pushing outside of our comfort zones series. Over 400 people at Colt have now gone through the programme developed by women for women.

Empowering the next generation

Building a connection with communities around the world and contributing positively to those where employees live and work in is important to Colt. The Girl's Network is one of Colt's UK partners and the company is proud to mentor students in London to help inspire their career aspirations.

Network 25's partnership with The Girls Network aims to empower, inspire and develop the next generation of professional women via mentoring.

Colt's Women's network hosts internal and external events both online and in person to raise awareness and discuss issues related to women. For example, it invited four fathers with Colt to share their experiences as working dads with daughters.

The network has hosted a number of inspiring events such as Domestic Abuse Awareness, Menopause and working women, Women@Tech, Imposter Syndrome and A working father's guide to raising confident women.

Inspired to thrive in a successful career with Colt?

Colt is committed to promoting gender balance and providing mentoring opportunities to enable its women to thrive.

Search job vacancies with this progressive employer.


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


Join our women's careers community