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We employ over 36,500 women directly and provide employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands more across our global supplier base. We believe that achieving greater gender parity will strengthen our company significantly through understanding the needs of the women, men, families and businesses who rely on our networks and services.

Our 2025 goal

Our ambition is for Vodafone to become the world’s best employer for women

The need for gender equality in the workplace

The need for gender equality in the workplace has been recognised as a critical issue for decades. However, women still remain under-represented within many companies, and strikingly so at the most senior levels.

Equality of opportunity between men and women is a key indicator of long-term social stability and economic prosperity. However, women still remain under-represented within many companies, and strikingly so at the most senior levels; women only occupy 14% of senior executive positions in the 600 largest companies in Europe1.

A lack of support during pregnancy and the challenge of balancing childcare with work account for many women’s decision to leave paid employment. Some women experience difficulties in returning to work after a career break; others return to work but find fewer opportunities for promotion and progression than their male counterparts2. This is a lost opportunity: for the many women affected and for the global economy deprived of their skills.

Women only hold 14% of senior positions in Europe’s 600 largest companies

Our commitment to women’s empowerment begins at the top of the company.

An ambition to be the best employer for women by 2025

Vodafone employs over 36,500 women directly and provides employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands more across our global supplier base. We believe that achieving greater gender equality strengthens our company significantly, giving us a better understanding of the needs of the women, men, families and businesses who rely on our networks and services.

Achieving gender equality in the workplace, at all levels, remains a significant challenge for most businesses, especially those of a global nature. To address this issue, Vodafone has a long-term ambition to become the world’s best employer for women by 2025.

The 2019 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index recognised Vodafone as one of the top companies globally leading the way towards more equal, inclusive workplaces. The Index scored Vodafone between 82% and 100% across several categories, including gender employment statistics, employer policies, company products and company community engagement.

Our commitment to gender equality

We have embedded our commitment to diversity and gender balance into how we work at Vodafone. In our induction programme for senior leaders, they are required to complete unconscious bias training to help them recognise the assumptions and beliefs that can skew their decision making. A number of our training programmes focus on making sure our recruitment processes are balanced and help to develop the skills required to manage diverse teams.

Our new Group Chief Executive, Nick Read, continues the commitment to act as a corporate champion for the UN Women’s global solidarity movement for gender equality, HeforShe.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

We also celebrate women’s achievements with visible support from our senior leaders. We hold a week-long celebration to coincide with International Women’s Day. On 8 March 2019, more than 6,300 employees watched a global webinar led by our Group Chief Executive. All four women on the Vodafone ExCo were profiled and shared their personal experiences and career journey. CEOs from Greece and New Zealand also highlighted their commitments. Our global programme saw over 60 events being held worldwide, including roundtable discussions, networking events, training, and role-modelling and mentoring sessions.

Supporting employees suffering from domestic violence and abuse

During the year, Vodafone Foundation commissioned research to assess the impact of domestic violence and abuse on people’s work-life and career. The study surveyed 4,715 women and men in the workplace across nine countries: the UK, Germany, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, India, Italy and Spain. The research found that more than one in three workers had experienced domestic violence and abuse, and 67% of those said that the abuse affected their career progression. Furthermore, 51% felt too ashamed to discuss their abuse at work.

Women in technology

Vodafone has placed specific focus on increasing the proportion of women in technology roles, particularly within senior roles. Initiatives such as ensuring that female candidates are included in interview shortlists and setting internal targets have helped increase the proportion of females working in technology. During the year, 21% of our technology management and leadership roles were held by women3. Though this represents progress compared to previous years, we know that there is more we can do to increase this proportion.

Through our Women in Technology network, we are working to better support women in technology roles. This now has more than 1,300 members and holds quarterly webinars and local face-to-face meetings. Programmes such as #Codelikeagirl, and our work with schools and universities to promote women in technology, underpin our wider strategy to have a positive impact on women taking up technology careers.

Flexibility and support for working parents

Research by KPMG estimates that the cost to the global economy of replacing women who do not stay in the workforce after having a baby could be as much as US$47 billion every year2. We encourage and support our employees to return to work with us after the birth or adoption of a child.

In 2015, we introduced a global minimum maternity policy covering all Vodafone employees. Over the past four years, more than 7,000 women working for Vodafone have gone on maternity leave. All of them were eligible to benefit from at least 16 weeks’ fully paid maternity leave, plus full pay for a 30-hour week for the first six months of their return.

We also have flexible working, part-time and homeworking policies in place across a large number of our local markets, and many employees are using our remote working technologies. These include opportunities such as working from home one day a week, allowing for earlier or later start or finish times and, in some markets, having on-site childcare services for employees.

ReConnect – bringing skilled people back into the workforce

Launched in 2016 across all our markets, our ReConnect initiative aims to bring talented women back into the workplace after a career break. The programme includes training, coaching and a specially designed induction to help those returning to refresh and enhance the professional skills they need to return to work and progress their careers. ReConnect joiners are also offered flexible working options and a phased return to work.

Performance

We have met our target of 30% of management and leadership roles being held by women across our local markets and professional functions ahead of our 2020 deadline. As of 31 March 2019, women held 31% of our management and leadership roles, and we have now set a revised target for women to hold 40% of our management and leadership roles by 2030.

Women in management and leadership

 201720182019
Women in management and leadership329%30%31%

This includes women in senior leadership team, senior management and middle management

Women in senior leadership

 201720182019
Women in senior leadership26%26%28%

Our most senior employees (approx. 200 employees in total), including ExCo members

Women in senior management

 201720182019
Women in senior management27%28%28%

Women in middle management

 201720182019
Women in middle management30%31%31%

Women (all non-management employees)

 201720182019
Women (all non-management employees)40%40%40%

Our contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Our approach is contributing to SDG 5

SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

We are also impacting SDGs 4 and 8

SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

SDG 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Find out more about our contribution to the UN SDGs
SDG 4: Quality education SDG 5: Gender equality SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth SDG 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure SDG 13: Climate action

We believe we can have the greatest impact on five of the UN SDGs through our networks, products and services and through the work of the Vodafone Foundation.

Communications technology can play a critical role in empowering women to improve their lives and livelihoods. Through providing women with access to life-enhancing services, which help unlock socio-economic opportunities and championing the inclusion of women in the workplace, Vodafone is committed to SDG 5. Our approach also aligns with SDGs 4 and 8, as our mobile technologies also support improved education outcomes and drive financial inclusion.

References

  1. IMF working paper on gender diversity in senior positions, 2016
  2. KPMG research for Vodafone, 2017
  3. Defined as management and leadership roles in our Technology function and Vodafone Shared Services Technology