International Women’s Day 2022

4 March 2022

Jill DeBene



IWD2022: Jill DeBene, Sitekit CEO on the importance of belonging and sustainable culture of value.

When I look at the last 3 years at Sitekit, I am proud that we moved to a gender balance that is often not associated with tech companies. We are actively working on achieving a 50/50 gender balance and are aiming to build on this to ensure that we are a place where amazing people want to work. Inclusion, in my opinion, is about being valued and feeling you belong. Inclusion is about making sure everyone has a voice. To make sure people belong we need to listen to and respect each other. Many years ago, one of the women I was working with questioned why I had appointed another woman who grew up outside of the UK to my team. My response was: “You just don’t get it. Look beyond, listen and you will see how amazing that woman is. After all, if everyone in my team was exactly like me it would be cosy and comfortable, yet it wouldn’t be creative or sustainable enough”. We need gender balance to create companies that are rounded and sustainable.

We have a mission to create a company where we don’t think about labels or stereotypes. A company where we listen to everyone and adjust our behaviours to ensure that everyone feels valued. A recent audit by Skills for Scotland provided a People Strategy Action Plan that has been developed considering the views of the team at Sitekit and contains recommendations for skills and people development going forward. This was done to ensure we have a good mix of talent and attract the underrepresented community to our company. The auditors spoke with 30% of our staff and it was clear that whilst our team works really well in collaboration and has many positive practices in place, there was also hunger to create an even better place to work. Although, when asked if they felt valued, 100% of our employees said ‘YES’ with key messages being:

‘We are great at positive feedback. Not only do the senior team take time to congratulate us, but there is also a culture where we say it to each other too.’

‘Working with the NHS means we are really making a difference here.’

‘Great culture, great owner, great CEO.’

‘Amazing development opportunities.’

‘Lots of positive feedback internally and from customers.’

‘Nicest place I have ever worked at. Enough freedom to do stuff but not so much to get in a complete mess.’

‘I love the flexibility of my working hours. I am trusted.’

All of this comes from the changes we made in communications, the introduction of matrix management, gender balance, and flexible home working where all these changes have a positive impact. There is always more to do, and we are here to listen.

On this #IWD2022, I appeal to everyone to think about their thoughts and actions. Do you question the value of someone, or do you take the time to look for the value in them and adjust how you interact, so everyone is included? Only in that way will our conversations be richer, our actions rounder, our outputs more creative, and our world more sustainable.

Post by Jill DeBene

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