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Technology education programs targeted to women offer the necessary skills to help narrow the gender equality gap and improve a woman’s economic outlook.
In support of the United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals and Flex's 20 by 2020 goals, our Flex Foundation funded two such programs in 2018; both offering technology training to women at a social and/or economic disadvantage.
Each program had its own unique strengths. The Canadian charity, iSisters Technology Mentoring Inc., provided digital and media literacy skills and mentoring in new communications technologies to 42 local women in need. The Mexican Laboratoria Coding A.C. provided a coding boot camp for women who did not have access to quality job opportunities. They were trained as front-end web developers. Following the training, 40 women in the program will prepare to enter the workforce, start their own business, or continue studying.
We provided funds for these programs through the Flex Foundation, a private grants foundation established in March 2002. Investing globally, the fund serves as a catalyst for positive change in communities around the world where we operate. We provide support in the areas of natural disaster relief, human rights and educational programs.
Our programs align with our sustainability strategy that focuses on four sustainable development goals.
We focus on socially responsible investments aimed at improving underserved communities by granting monetary and/or in-kind donations to local non-profit organizations in the communities where we work. This provides technical and vocational skills to drive employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship in order to positively impact the social good of a nation or a geographic region.
Through Flex Foundation grants, corporate and employee donations and volunteerism, we work with nonprofits, community leaders and governments to promote sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.
We are committed to numerous initiatives including making inclusive and quality education available, promoting lifelong learning opportunities, driving employment and decent work, providing disaster relief, advancing environmental protection, spreading awareness, and generating action.
Supporting the UN’s women with technology training
According to the UN, women all over the world continue to be under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Even though women have made tremendous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still underrepresented in these fields.
Our funding of these two programs responds directly to the UN’s gender equality targets to “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life” and more specifically 5.B targets, to “enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.”
Tackling some of the greatest challenges of the agenda for sustainable development -- from improving health to combating climate change -- will rely on harnessing all talent. That means getting more women working in these fields. Diversity in research expands the pool of talented researchers, bringing in fresh perspectives, talent and creativity.
iSisters and IWSO provide digital literacy training for immigrant women
As a no-cost technology education program that empowers local women in need with digital literacy, iSisters offers job search skills to overcome unemployment and limited education. The Flex Foundation grant helped deliver an innovative, digital literacy program tailored to women at the Immigrant Women’s Services Organization (IWSO), the iSisters organization that provides crisis intervention and counselling services for culturally diverse women.
iSisters technology mentoring
Our instructors were awesome. We have learned a lot of things that we never knew before. I personally enjoyed this course.-Farjana, iSisters student
34 low-income women graduated with a Career Connections certificates following the first series of training sessions. The program was delivered four times in total between November 2017 and July 2018, at no cost. It included mentorship focused on employment preparedness, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, MS Office applications (Word, Excel), effective web searching techniques, and using email in a professional environment.
The goal of the program was to ensure the women could gain the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace, further their education and learn about entrepreneurship in a safe environment. A further eight students enrolled for the follow up session that took place on July 2018.
100% of those who joined the course will be applying for a new job.
Mexican women learn to code at Laboratoria
In this pilot program, young women from under resourced backgrounds from Guadalajara and Zapopan, are now studying with Laboratoria, learning front-end web development.
As part of phase one, 23 students graduated from the bootcamp in September of 2018. Laboratoria has been able to identify dozens of extremely talented young women from Jalisco and other parts of Mexico who did not have access to quality job opportunities before being part of Laboratoria. By learning to code, soft skills and English, they are preparing themselves to enter the tech workforce in the coming months.