Marjorie Woudenberg

"Vrouwen in Techniek" (Women in Tech)

Published on 07 March 2023

Increasing the number of women working at SPIE is one of the Group’s key corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives. Marjorie Woudenberg, organiser of the Dutch "Wrouven in Techniek" (Women in Tech) network shares her views on the challenges of gender diversity in the workplace, why diversity is a major issue for companies, and how SPIE stands out from other companies in its sector.

Is gender diversity a priority  for companies?

Liaising with many companies in the technical and engineering sector, I can say that size plays a role. Larger organisations have the processes and resources to identify gender diversity as an issue and then prioritise it.

Why should companies be committed to gender diversity in the workplace?

There are several reasons, the most pressing of which is recruitment. In advanced economies, we are heading towards a pronounced shortage of workers, and companies that are not attractive to half of the workforce will be at a recruitment disadvantage. What is more, it is an established fact that diversity improves performance: there is no shortage of studies showing that mixed teams make better decisions and that companies with balanced workforces are more profitable. And of course, companies that are good for women to work in are also good places for men!

SPIE has launched various initiatives to promote diversity. How is the Group's position in comparison to other companies?

From my perspective, I can say that SPIE is very advanced across the board. For one, SPIE engages with networks such as ours, Vrouwen in Techniek (Women in Tech), which we set up in 2019 to promote technical career paths to women as well as gender diversity within companies. SPIE sends women to our events who act as role models – for girls and young women still looking at various career options. Yet SPIE also has excellent internal policies and practices, too. The fact that the CEO is part of the So’SPIE Ladies network speaks volumes. SPIE’s approach to gender diversity is particularly impressive in its breadth.