Women at the Forefront of the ICT sector: Lauren Clark, Putting People First

Women at the Forefront of the ICT sector

Mint places people at the centre of everything it does. Lauren Clark, Head of People at the Mint Group, owns its People First value. The Group’s mission is to #createtomorrow by inspiring its employees, clients and partners to reach their full potential through innovative technology solutions.

“I drive this by engaging our Minties (Mint employees) and working with our leaders to empower our people, resulting in a team who is enabled to achieve excellence. This is relevant in all spheres of the business,” says Lauren, who is also responsible for the Group’s global strategy around employee engagement, talent management, and career development.

The Mint Group has worked consistently to achieve transformation in the organisation, particularly when it comes to gender diversity. Of Mint’s 166 permanent employees, 54 are women. “We still have work to do but are achieving our goals year on year,” adds Lauren.

Mint wants to see 40% female representation across the Group within the next two financial years, while the longer-term goal is a 50/50 gender split. The Group has fared slightly better when it comes to leadership roles (40%) and has four female directors across the Group’s businesses.
There is a robust learning and development culture at Mint that drives upskilling and cross-skilling of employees. The leadership pipeline includes a leadership development programme, launched in 2020, with fourteen women already completing the programme.

When it comes to transformation at Mint, the biggest challenge, says Lauren, is the skills gap in the industry.

“As much as we continue to work towards achieving our employment equity goals, we can only afford to hire based on merit and skill because, in the current economy, we don’t have the capacity for a long runway for upskilling.”

Mint runs a six-month Apprentice Programme offering work-based experience and learning to people with ten years of career experience to address the skills shortage. The programme aims to enable them to cross-skill into a technology stream such as Microsoft Dynamics or Power Platform.
The Group has also restarted its year-long internship programme, which upskills graduates in a particular stream. Learnerships for unemployed deaf youth are offered, and Mint has partnered with organisations such as YES 4 YOUTH, GirlCode and Technogirl. “It’s critical to give young girls opportunities that will afford them a career in IT.

Our partnerships with GirlCode and Technogirl ensure more young girls get the exposure and education they need for a career in technology. We understand the value of enabling young people to learn and grow within the IT space. A career in technology is life-changing and sustainable. We want to a make an impact and a difference to our country, not just to our bottom line.”
Lauren doesn’t foresee gender equality coming to the industry any time soon. “The skills gap, poor access to technology and internet for most South African children, and the struggling socio-economic landscape mean that the face of this industry won’t change for a few years yet. To bridge the digital divide, especially for girls and young women, access to the internet and exposure to online games and tools is needed. Give them that, and we will bridge the skills gap and digital divide in no time.”

She would like to see more female role models in different technology-related jobs coming forward to shine a light on opportunities and career pathways for young girls and women.

When not attending to Mint tasks, Lauren is caring for her three-year-old son. She enjoys running, reading and sharing a glass of wine with family and friends. She recently completed her life coach and counselling qualification, adding to her Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics.

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