As the Internet of Things and digital transformation disrupt the world as we know it, the need for diversity in innovation becomes crucial. Many large tech companies, including Microsoft, Facebook, and Salesforce, have developed initiatives to promote diversity and women in technology. Salesforce chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff, revealed that his company spent $3 million in 2015 to equalize compensation across the company. But diversity goes far beyond equal pay. If we are to embrace digital transformation and the future it brings, it is imperative that companies seek to mentor and promote women in tech today, and to empower the youth of tomorrow to strive for a seat at the table.
“The greatest impact you can have on diversity is to help youth explore what they can accomplish before biases limit their possibilities.”~ Microsoft
A report issued by Cnet in May 2015 indicated that women employed at Microsoft comprise 29.1 percent of its workforce, but only 16.6 percent work in technical positions and just 23 percent hold leadership roles.
Microsoft is making notable strides to improve these numbers by hosting conferences across the country focused on educating youth about the opportunities for women in technology careers. It was my pleasure to attend the TWEF Microsoft Women in Technology, Innovation and Finance Conference hosted in Houston on Thursday, October 6, 2016. As it was my first Microsoft event since joining the team at ServiceControl I had no idea what to expect. But knowing it was a Microsoft event, I had a feeling it was going to be excellent.
The day began with Trice Johnson, Director, Architect at Microsoft, setting the stage and giving us the program for the day. She informed us that there were three tables of school girls who were guests of TWEF – a global nonprofit focused on empowering women and youth. They were there to be inspired and mentored by the women entrepreneurs, professionals and presenters in the room. To broaden their minds, to think of the possibilities for their futures, with technology at the helm.
The key takeaways from the day were:
- 65% of kids under 9 will end up in jobs that haven’t been invented yet.
- Women and girls must be courageous, creative and community driven.
- To be innovators we must have an intentional growth mindset and take initiative when we see opportunity regardless of our status or career hierarchy.
- To become innovators, we must be risk takers and history makers.
- To not fear failure because failing fast equals learning fast.
- Women bring unique insights about the future, not only with innovation, but with our culture.
- The solutions women bring to the table are ideas with a practical use that can transform the lives of others.
- The root of innovation is to be of service.
“A diverse workforce gives us the unique perspectives that we need to build the most innovative products, engage with our diverse community of customers and partners, and attract and retain top talent.”
I’m proud the team here at ServiceControl has women in two of the senior roles in the organization: Michèle Dagneault, President and CFO and me, Marketing Manager. With 22 percent of our leadership team being women, we are double that of the average in Silicon Valley – which is a mere 11 percent according to a recent report from law firm Fenwick & West LLP.
The key to creating a diverse workforce is creating better educational opportunities for young girls. Microsoft did just that by organizing this conference. It was a pleasure to witness their involvement in this initiative. Microsoft continues to foster diversity across their organization by sponsoring day’s like today and other initiatives like DigiGirlz Day, Women Employee Resource Group and Women Think Next.