Once upon a time, in a place that feels far, far away now, but was actually just up the road from our Drogheda office, in Belfast, the Women of Aphix got together for a coffee and a chat and formed “The WAN”.
This happened during our annual work conference in March 2020, which is when our company got together to share plans for the next year and socialise together. It happily coincided with International Women’s Day 2020.
The WAN, also affectionately known as ‘Yer WAN’ (say it with an Irish accent!), stands for the Women of Aphix Network. We came together to support each other and to share ideas and plans about work and beyond.
The WAN are a diverse, inclusive and fun group of women who look to share ideas and support and provide a listening ear when needed. Last March, we (The WAN) represented approximately 20% of our company; just over the industry standard for Tech which is 19%.
So, back to Belfast. It was early March 2020, before we knew the havoc Covid-19 would wreak on our carefully planned and curated working lives. It was Before.
Before constant remote-working. Before home-schooling. Before Zoom calls for both business and social reasons became necessary. Before existing gender inequality - did you know that before the Covid-19 epidemic, women did nearly three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men?! - became even more unequal.
Now, having added home-schooling and additional domestic tasks - how many meals and snacks are you having to prepare a day?! - in addition to their paid employment, women have been transported back to an even more unequal time.
According to UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia2, the financial insecurity and economic impact of women either doing less paid work or longer hours can not be underscored enough.
Action must be taken by government and business to mitigate the risk of educated women unwillingly leaving the workforce to carry out unpaid care and domestic work.
Yet, throughout the pandemic, Aphix management supports us (and all its employees) in very practical ways: time off at short notice if necessary and flexible working hours to fit in home-schooling and other care activities.
Like all companies, we communicate daily via Google Meet and Slack. We’re all used to our colleagues' backgrounds; not to mention regular appearances of children, dogs and other interruptions that have become synonymous with remote working during the pandemic.
Aphix has grown a lot over the last year, and now 25% of Aphix’s employees are women. Of course, they are all members of ‘Yer WAN’; we love our weekly coffee and craic - online, of course!
Discussions range from the ridiculous to the sensible; from work to family to ‘when are we ever going to leave our house again’?
We’re celebrating International Women’s Day by celebrating the first anniversary of yer wan.
It’s good to be part of a group that understands and supports.