“A wise girl knows her limits, a smart girl knows she has none”, there were strong waves of approval and agreement from the audience.
I jumped at the opportunity to attend “Women of Silicon Roundabout”, the largest UK conference dedicated to diversity in tech.
The morning was a whirlwind of impressive speakers from the likes of Google, McKinsey, ITV, Tesco and Salesforce. I was staggered to learn that women make up only 3.3% of European tech companies and that if we had equal labour participation here in the UK, it would contribute to an additional £600bn to the economy.
These statistics stuck in my mind throughout the day, and made me ask the big question – how should we be tackling this?
One of the key topics that was touched on by every single speaker throughout the day was the importance of taking personal responsibility for your own career. Specifically, the importance of differentiating between a Sponsor and a Mentor. McKinsey’s Naomi Smit informed the audience that men were 46% more likely to have a sponsor in the workplace, demonstrating that women appear to be less likely to ask for help. The evidence was clear, having a sponsor can make a significant difference to how you can progress within an organisation.
Faz Aftab, from ITV, focused on the importance of being constantly inspired and connecting with the people around you. She highlighted the positive impact of having a Mentor to guide you along your own path; where you know your value and can continually build on your confidence. As a working mother, Faz was refreshingly honest about the work/life balance – she said that it is a constant “juggling act, and sometime I have to drop some balls, I just try and make sure they are not the breakable ones” and what motivates her, is showing her 3 girls that you really can have a successful career alongside family life.
Clearly we all need to be proactive in inspiring the next generation of technologists. Melissa Di Donato of Salesforce is certainly one of these people; she spoke passionately about making positive choices and not being afraid to make mistakes. She encouraged the audience to identify your role models and to lead by example regardless of what stage of your career. Citing a quote from MIT’s Esther Duflo:
A wise girl knows her limits, a smart girl knows she has none, there were strong waves of approval and agreement from the audience.
Feeling upbeat, I was intrigued to hear one of the few male panellists – the charismatic and hugely energetic Dom Price from Atlassian. He talked through how Atlassian have successfully built their global business around a culture of innovation & inclusion. Innovation is the responsibility of every individual employee of Atlassian – and once a quarter they form “Ship It” teams where they have 24 hours to work new ideas that relate to their existing products. This level of both inclusion and participation makes for a highly engaged workforce who are confident at pushing the boundaries – we need more of this in the UK!
As I digested the flow of opinions and statistics, it occurred to me that having a voice in your role is essential for both adding value to your employer, and (more importantly) your career.
But how do you ensure that your voice is heard? The question was raised by an audience member, who asked the panel advice on how to make a room full of men listen to her, their response was uplifting – be assertive, and say it with passion and conviction:
“If they believe in your why, they are joining your cause” Anna Gevorgyan, Expedia
After this event, I am even more determined to adopt a different approach, not be afraid to challenge the status quo and to learn from my mistakes. One thing is for certain, as a Millennial – I am passionate to be part of driving this debate. We all have an important role to play in changing and promoting diversity and inclusion throughout CloudStream as well as with our global clients – ensuring that everyone understands the long-term value to both themselves and their employer.
This is a journey that must gather momentum, and it starts with YOU:
Be your brilliant self and embrace challenges” Monika Biddulph, ARM
To attend the next “Women of Silicon Roundabout” event in 2017 please visit www.women-in-technology.com