Computacenter hires first woman onto board

Computacenter has hired its first female non-executive board member and discusses conclusions of its diversity report

Reseller Computacenter has raised its game on diversity by adding its first female board member to its previously all-male board of directors.

Regine Stachelhaus recently served as a member of management board at E.ON from June 2010 to July 2013 and also served as its chief human resources officer until July 2013. 

Based in Germany, she was previously executive secretary for the German Committee of UNICEF and worked for HP across a wide number of management roles, including head of legal and sales director of its consumer business organisation. She originally qualified as a lawyer specialising in employment law and software licensing.

With both an all-male board of directors and senior management team across the UK, France Germany and Benelux, she joins Computacenter as the first female non-executive director. 

After conducting an internal diversity report Neil Muller, UK managing director at Computacenter said Stachelhaus was picked because she was best suited for the role and that the unintentional use of “masculine language” in job requirements may have been turning women off of applying for potential roles.

“We underwent a diversity and inclusion report. Obviously there was positive and negative feedback and one was on the perception of job requirements.

“We realised we were using a lot of masculine language – quite unintentionally. Our use of language was very analytical with words such as ‘dominant’ and ‘ambitious’. We found more female candidates are attracted to job roles that use language such as ‘dependable’, ‘connected’ and ‘loyal’,” Muller said.

Muller said the VAR launched a sales associate programme in 2007 and at that time struggled to encourage women to apply: “We have recruited 35 people onto that programme in five years and now 14 of them are female – 40%.

“Women bring an extra dimension to the workplace with a brand new set of ideas and responses to customer needs,” he said.

Clare Parry-Jones, sales enablement and marketing director at Computacenter has previously worked for the company in 2008 and returned as she found the flexibility at Computacenter attractive: “I had kept in touch with Computacenter over the years and I wanted to scale back to a four-day week again as my children were still toddlers, so I left SAP and moved to Boston with my husband. 

"I still worked two days a week with a Computacenter partner over there. In 2011, I came back to the UK as client director at Computacenter and have had several roles since.”

Parry-Jones had moved from SAP: “They only had roles for five days a week and it didn’t work for me. A lot of working mothers can find themselves faced with that work/home life imbalance.”

Before SAP, where she was SME territory sales manager, she worked at Stratus Technologies Systems Ltd: “This was US-based as my husband was moving to the US for work. I had a four-day week there too.”

Parry-Jones was the integration lead at Compaq during the HP acquisition in 2002. During her time at Compaq, she had two children and said maternity leave was not a difficult conversation to have with her employer: “In 2000, I took a year off to have my son and I came back to a four-day week role at Compaq. HP bought Compaq and I spent 10 months doing the integration. Then I had my second child.

“When I first started at Compaq, I had a lot of trouser suits and I was told 'We don’t usually like women in trouser suits' but when I came back from maternity leave, it was different there. Coming back wasn’t a difficult conversation to have with my employer. I was clear about what I wanted and what I needed.”

Computacenter, which recently sponsored Computer Weekly’s Women in IT event, believes annual development programmes are important to find out how the business needs can match individuals desires. It also encourages monthly reviews. 

“People have a touch-point where they can hear their managers' views instead of going with their own perspectives,” said Parry-Jones.

Muller added: “I had a review with a woman yesterday and the technical side of the role did not come up – it was the self-belief, emotional intelligence and cultural fit which we focused on.”

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