How Sky Ensures That Women Thrive in Leadership Positions

Sky, Europe’s leading entertainment and communications company, takes gender parity seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they have a full-time employee dedicated to advocating for women in leadership roles. To give us some more details on the company’s approach to inclusion, we spoke with Kate Vandenberg, Head of Women in Leadership — here’s what she had to say.

Glassdoor: Kate, tell us about your job.

Kate Vandenberg: As Head of Women in Leadership, my role is to get more women into senior leadership positions at Sky and continue to build our pipeline of talented women to ensure we’re fully balanced right across our company at every level.

Glassdoor: What made you get into the area of women in the workplace?

Kate Vandenberg: As a Kiwi working in the UK I’ve always been passionate about inclusivity and equality, and have seen firsthand how diverse teams really do perform better.

I am immensely proud to be from a country that for over half of the last two decades has had female Prime Ministers. Indeed, our latest has recently announced her first pregnancy and is likely to become only the second head of government in modern history to give birth in office! It has always seemed self-evident to me both the inherent fairness of gender equality, but also the clear benefits brought by diversity of perspective and experience in a workforce.

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Glassdoor: Why does Sky put so much effort into women in leadership?

Kate Vandenberg: As one of Europe’s largest entertainment and communications companies, it’s essential that Sky sets a leading example when it comes to achieving gender parity.

We believe that having a gender-balanced leadership team makes us a better business. We reflect who our customers are, draw on different and varied experiences, have diverse ideas and opinions.

A little over two years ago we launched our Women in Leadership initiative, since which time we have increased the mix of women in our leadership layer from 30% to 40%. That’s an increase of one third!  Our aim, though, is to move that to a half.

Glassdoor: What are you doing to make that happen?

Kate Vandenberg: To ensure we reach a 50/50 split, we’re doing three things.  Firstly, we’re leveling the playing field, for example through 50/50 shortlists for all senior positions.  Secondly, we’re supercharging the great women already working for us through our Women in Leadership Sponsorship and Development programme; and, thirdly we’re attracting the best talent to work for us.

When it comes to recruitment, we want the best person for the role — these initiatives help talented women receive the recognition they deserve.

Glassdoor: Outside of Leadership, what initiatives is Sky working on to achieve a better gender balance?

Kate Vandenberg: We have plans in place to improve the balance in more challenging areas, designing programmes to help change the industry standard.

STEM subjects is a big focus for us as these have historically been male-dominated areas — we see the impact of this reflected in the gender makeup of Sky’s technology and home service divisions. To help address the imbalance, we recently launched women-only scholarship and training schemes to encourage female talent to work in these areas, for example, our Sky Women in Tech scholarship and our new Sky Home Service Engineer training programme.

This isn’t simply a recruitment exercise — the schemes involve paid retraining, supported by longer-term mentoring and sponsorship both during and after training.

Learn More & Download:

Guide to Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace