Case study

Think, Act, Report: Telefónica UK

Nurturing and supporting female talent


At Telefónica UK, we believe that we have to have a workforce that understands their needs and expectations – and the best way to do that is to make sure our workforce mirrors our customer base. A few years ago, we realised that like many other tech companies, the number of women in senior positions within our business was lower than the number of men. While we had a number of individual initiatives in place to support women already within our business, we realised that we could have greater impact if we took action to support women right at the start of their career, as well as those already in more senior positions.

We set out to create an ecosystem of measures which when sustained over time, would help us to foster an environment which is conducive to increased engagement of our women.

These measures include:

  • implementing a number of new initiatives designed to support young women joining our business on our ‘Talentum’ programme;
  • bolstering our existing Women’s Network and Women in Leadership programme;
  • supporting women within our business to implement new initiatives that benefit not just Telefónica, but young women in the community around us.

We’ve already started to see tangible positive results and are committed to ensuring long-lasting change.

Issue to be resolved.

Like many companies operating within the IT / technology sector, we found ourselves with a lower number of women in senior roles within our business – particularly in our operations, service management, finance and legal departments.

At Telefónica, we believe that having a diverse and inclusive workforce isn’t just morally right – but makes complete business sense. After all, how can we effectively serve our 23 million customers if our own workforce doesn’t mirror our customer base.

Action taken to build a sustainable pipeline of female talent

To create the conditions for long-lasting sustainable change, we wanted to implement measures that would support women at all levels of their careers at Telefónica.


To help us develop and nurture the future leaders of our business we implemented a new, dedicated programme called Talentum.

The programme brings young men and women into the business via three clear routes:

  • apprenticeships;
  • internships;
  • our graduate scheme.

It is specifically designed to maximise the native digital skills that so many young people possess. Right from the outset there has been a clear focus on bringing both young men and women into the company. To achieve this, we’ve taken great care with our attraction campaigns, being specifically conscious of the imagery and language we are using. We’ve also used our external communications to show young men and women working together to try to combat some of the stereotypes that exist around technology companies being a bit of a ‘boys club’.

Supporting those within our business

In addition to focusing on how we can bring in and nurture more female talent we’ve also put a renewed focus on supporting women within our business to help them reach more senior levels.

For a number of years now we’ve run a successful women’s network, but in 2014 we took the opportunity to re-assess the network to ensure that it continues to deliver to the needs of women working within the company.

The women’s network is now attended by 350 women in management grades, and provides an opportunity for women (and men!) to come together to share experiences and get valuable support from their peers.

European-wide Women in Leadership Programme

We’ve also run a successful European-wide Women in Leadership Programme for a number of years. The in-depth programme specifically identified women at a key juncture in their career, providing them with training, mentoring and practical workshops to help them reach that next level. We’ve seen many of those women go on to the next stage of their career at Telefónica as a result.

Beyond our business

Finally, in addition to targeting women either joining or already in our business, we’ve also put a real focus on supporting and encouraging girls in our local community to consider a career in the tech sector – regardless of whether they join Telefonica. This has manifested in a number of different initiatives.


For example, some of the graduates on our talentum programme have started a new initiative called T&Tech which is a series of coding and networking events for girls aged 10+. The programme aims to engage young girls with technology and encourage them to pursue an education in the sector. The programme has been supported by a number of internal O2 initiatives, including the Women’s Network and Think Big.

Partnership with Girls Talk London

We’ve also partnered with an organisation called Girls Talk London, which aims to connect young women aged 14-25 with senior and leading women in competitive or male-dominated industries. Several Telefónica UK senior women participated in a Q&A held at our Think Big Hub – a creative space for young people to come and develop their entrepreneurial, digital and work skills. It’s been a hugely positive experience for our own employees as well as the girls attending – and is something we’re looking to continue in the future.


We wanted to join up all the existing diversity initiatives we had in place to create one holistic programme. This has already had a positive impact. We’ve started to see some great examples of our young female graduates joining up with our community programme Think Big, as well as our Women’s Network, to initiative change both inside Telefónica and beyond.

For example, one of our young graduates has worked with our women’s network and O2 Think Big to create an initiative designed to get more girls into coding. We’ve also seen a group of young women on our Talentum programme initiating their own ‘Lean In’ group – to help support one another as they rise in seniority.

On a more quantitative basis, we’ve implemented a new quarterly tracking metric to allow us to track how many women are reaching senior levels within the company. The results are fed directly into Board meetings on a quarterly basis, ensuring our commitment to workplace diversity goes right to the top. So far, we’re seeing a move in the right direction but we know there’s more to be done.

Next Steps

We’ve already had some great successes in joining up our various diversity programmes but we know that we can’t stop there. We have plans in place to extend the reach of our Women in Leadership programme dovetailing our now global programme with a women in leadership programme specific to the UK and continue to invest in connecting and enabling women in our network.

As outlined above, we’ve also implemented a quarterly tracker so that we can closely monitor the impact that our various initiatives are having on the make-up of our workforce.

Published 4 November 2014