Hello and a warm welcome to a very special edition of smarterCIO EMEA – the magazine for Chief Information Officers and the EMEA IT community in general.
EMEA Edition | Vol. 7
Hello and a warm welcome to a very special edition of smarterCIO EMEA – the magazine for Chief Information Officers and the EMEA IT community in general.
Regular readers will know our mission is to share the latest technology and leadership insights to help create and educate a community of current CIOs and those aspiring to move into the role.
But this quarter, which coincides with our much anticipated customer event, Workday Rising Europe in Stockholm, we are honing in on a hugely important topic – women in technology.
As a woman with almost three decades of experience in the enterprise software industry, I've seen (and heard) the many boardrooms debates on diversity and watched with pride – and sometimes frustration – as momentum on this topic has ebbed and flowed.
Today, I’m pleased to say we’re seeing tremendous progress. I watch with pride as my many female peers here at Workday and at other tech companies assume technology leadership positions and thrive. They're charting the course for future generations of women and paving the way for tomorrow’s tech leaders.
Of course, there’s work to do, and we must never become complacent, but this issue of smarterCIO is a celebration of our journey. I’m thrilled to say we kick things off with a guest feature from the brilliant Kate Russell. As one of the hosts of BBC Click and a hugely experienced Tech Journalist, Kate has witnessed the digital revolution from a front row seat. In her article, she gives her thoughts on the evolving role of women in technology.
From there, we have a series of fantastic interviews with female technology leaders, where they discuss their own journeys and provide advice for other women embarking on similar career paths.
Michelle Carroll is GSK’s Vice President of Global Digital and Tech Support Functions. She considers her non-technical, HR background and how her Workday expertise helped her grow into a senior technology leader at a multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company.
Workday EMEA CTO, Clare Hickie, features her story next. She talks about trusting her gut instinct, being curious and taking calculated risks en route to becoming a tech leader. Clare also highlights the importance of diversity in building great technology teams.
Next up, it’s the turn of two women leaders from our partner community. Accenture’s Rachel Barton, Europe Strategy Lead, discusses the rise of activism in the boardroom and why it’s time to speak up. And, Deloitte’s Global Cyber Leader, Emily Mossburg, focuses on bringing diverse voices, perspectives and experiences to the table in her article on elevating women in cyber security.
We’d love your thoughts on this issue, and look forward to having you join the conversation. Please give us feedback, suggest new ideas, offer your own expertise and insight. We can’t wait to hear from you.
Angelique de Vries-Schipperijn
President of EMEA, Workday, and guest editor
What’s going on with women in IT?
Advocating for women in tech: A conversation with Michelle Carroll from GSK
Inside view: My career in technology
Interview with Clare Hickie, CTO EMEA, Workday
It’s time to speak up! The rise of activism in the boardroom.
Elevating women in cyber, an interview with Deloitte’s Emily Mossburg
Key takeaways from the Women Transforming Technology Conference 2022
Welcome to the conversation
If you’ve got ideas of your own, or you’re interested in sharing your expertise and insight, we’d love to hear from you.
Get in Touch
*What’s going on with women in IT?*
By Kate Russell, Guest Contributor
I remember the first time I walked into the all-male offices of gaming magazine publisher, EMAP Images, back in 1995. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was finding the answer to the question I would be asked most in my nearly three decades of technology reporting: Why don’t more women work in tech?
For starters, it was incredibly intimidating. I saw on the faces staring back at me, a mix of curiosity, amusement and distrust. It felt a little like being the new exhibit at a zoo. Perhaps my story is more extreme than the norm (even for 1995) as I was starting work in an open-plan office populated by gaming magazines. Twenty-or-so games journos, with pale faces and hoodies, barely old enough to shave, and (I’m going to reveal my own biases here) I want to say, probably not much experience with girls. And me.
There's a scientific term for the negative impact on performance caused by a collective expectation of failure: stereotype threat. It’s a psychological condition where you put so much pressure on yourself not to live up to the negative stereotype perception of you, it can cause you to underperform. I grew up fighting my brothers for time on the family gaming console, so it didn’t faze me too much. But I was always aware of a ‘sexist vibe’, especially when we were playing games together.
Luckily, we’ve moved well beyond those times and diversity and inclusion are at the top of boardroom agendas globally. Women are now a strong presence in the global workforce (47.7% according to Statistica). But when you look at the numbers of women working in IT, we seem to be stuck in the 90s.
In preparing for this article, I looked back at my earlier writing for inspiration. The first time I referenced gender diversity in a tech talk was in 2013:
“Only 17% of ICT jobs in Britain are held by women and that figure has DROPPED from 22% in 2001.”
I was shocked at the time. You can tell by the way I wrote it in caps lock, even though the script was only for me. For all the work and promotion people like myself had been doing to advance women working in IT, we were experiencing NEGATIVE GROWTH.
I’m glad 2013-me couldn’t see the latest statistics from the ONS Labour Force Survey, as she might have busted her keyboard seeing the figures.
Percentage of female UK IT professionals:
2016 – 18%
2017 – 17%
2018 – 17%
2019 – 16%
You may have noticed; this is not progress.
So, what’s going on? And what can we all do to start moving the needle in a meaningful way?
There might be some clues in a 2020 diversity and inclusion report by Mercer, which showed a leaky pipeline for women in leadership:
And among the largest publicly listed companies in the European Union (EU 27) in 2021, only 20.2% of executives and 7.8% of CEOs were women according to the European Institute for Gender Equality.
Also in the Mercer report: whilst more than half of board and senior level executives are actively engaged in diversity and inclusion programmes and activities, there is a marked drop in high-level participation at middle and front-line manager levels. Given these are likely the people handling your initial recruitment drives, I would say their full engagement is fundamental to the desired outcome.
The landscape is even more stark for black women, according to the BCS Chartered Institute for IT’s October 2022 report ‘The Experiences of Black Women in the Information Technology Industry’. It found there are over 20,000 black women ‘missing’ from the UK IT profession. And worryingly 67% of women polled for the report felt they faced more barriers to entry into the tech industry than women from other ethnicities. Added to this, 21% believe that current diversity and inclusion policies are having a negative effect on their ability to progress.
So, I think we’ve identified some symptoms here. And modern office culture has us running in circles to treat these symptoms. Diversity awareness campaigns, gender-conscious recruitment and proactive HR messaging all work to create a space in which diversity should thrive.
But it doesn’t. Because you must treat the cause, as well as the symptoms.
I believe the reason it’s been so hard to pin down the cause is because it's unconscious. The UN’s 2020 Gender Norms Index revealed that 90% of men and an astounding 84% of women worldwide still show some biased attitudes towards women. We don’t mean to do it, but we must remember we are each a product of our life experiences.
Science generally agrees that the fundamental shape of our personality is set in place by the age of about seven. What you saw, heard and felt around you in your formative years is part of your emotional and intellectual foundations. It influences your thoughts and actions in subtle ways you may not be aware of – especially if you’ve never looked for them. It’s just the way you are. But viewed through the lens of someone highly attuned, perhaps because they have suffered or witnessed discrimination before, your actions or words could tell a different story.
Awareness is the key.
When you next have time, I recommend taking an unconscious bias test. Better yet, suggest to HR that the whole company takes one. Prepare to be shocked too. I took one about 10 years ago, at the height of my diversity campaigning activities, and could hardly believe the results. But I guess it’s called ‘unconscious bias’ for a reason.
Being aware of our biases and consciously trying not to pass them on to future generations is, I believe, our best hope for true global equality.
The good news is we’re starting to make progress. For five decades, US scientists have been tracking gender-science stereotypes by asking large samples of children to ‘draw a scientist’.
A 2018 meta-analysis of the data revealed that while from 1966-1977 only 1% of children drew a female scientist. In 2016 that figure had risen to 58% – the increase being driven overwhelmingly by girls. Boys in the same study still drew a male scientist nearly nine times out of 10.
This calls to mind another point I’ve made repeatedly in keynote addresses and panel discussions over the years – boys need good role models too. And in recent years (amidst the rise of the fabled Karen) I would like to add children of privilege to that list as well.
For me, the most impactful thing we can all do is get out there and meet pre-GCSE aged students of all genders. Kids with disabilities, from underprivileged areas and underrepresented cultures. And kids that don’t tick any diversity boxes at all. Open the doors of your business to the local schools. Do facility tours. Offer to run classes and workshops or take part in careers fairs. Let the kids see you – the women and men of modern industry – being who you are at work. It will help them imagine both themselves and the world around them in a different way.
The bonus is that activities like this are a great way to raise awareness of your company as a local employer and the opportunities you can offer. It’s not a short-term fix, I’m afraid. But if we can’t get the pipeline full, we’re never going to balance the faucets.
I think, most of all, we need patience and perseverance. Although the statistics look grim for the number of women working in IT, there are in truth many more thousands of women studying and entering the field than at any time in history. The trouble is the field is growing so darn quickly.
It’s also worth remembering (and I say this to myself as much as to you, dear reader), today’s culture is the end-result of a thousand or more years of social programming. Do we really expect to debug it in just a couple of decades?
*Advocating for women in tech: A conversation with Michelle Carroll from GSK*
By Steve Dunne, EMEA Staff Writer
Michelle Carroll came from a non-technical, HR background, but with her Workday expertise, she grew into a Senior Technology Leader at a multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company.
Far more than a nice-to-have, gender diversity delivers bottom-line benefits. The most gender-diverse companies are 48 percent more likely to outperform the least gender-diverse companies, McKinsey finds. And yet, women in the technology industry continue to face unequal representation and treatment.
While women make up 50 percent of the total UK workforce, they account for only 26 percent of the tech space, according to government-funded growth network Tech Nation. These stats are echoed across many other countries, including Australia, Germany and the United States, with Deloitte Global research on large, global tech firms finding that women account for 33 percent of the overall workforce, on average.
And this reality actually represents an improvement, as the proportion of women in technical roles at 20 large technology companies has nudged upward in recent years, Deloitte reports. Still, women in tech report lower pay and barriers to career progression. In the tech industry, only 52 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men.
One way tech companies can repair the broken rung on women’s career ladders? Build a strong culture of support via mentors, according to McKinsey. A thriving mentorship culture relies on women – such as Michelle Carroll – who excel at empowering other women.
As the Vice President of Global Digital and Tech Support Functions at GSK, Carroll has prioritised her advocacy for women and other underrepresented groups in tech. Carroll, who’s based in London, recently spoke with Steve Dunne from Workday, about how she made the switch from human resources to technology and why she believes other professional women in non-tech roles may have the skills needed to thrive in software-as-a-service (SaaS) environments.
Tell us about your career and education and how your career choices led you to the technology sector.
At university, I studied finance and HR. I had grand plans of being an accountant, but I didn’t come from a particularly well-off family and ended up not finishing my degree. I got a job in what was then called personnel services. I spent my twenties working in HR and in my thirties, worked within a human resources information system (HRIS). It was when I joined GSK about six years ago that I made the true shift into pure tech, but still supporting it from the HR side.
What was your introduction to Workday?
My journey with Workday started back in 2013. I was a consultant at Diageo, and we were deploying a business solution globally. It was then that I heard the word Workday for the first time, and all of a sudden, we had a big shift in direction and were deploying Workday globally.
You had an interesting journey from an HRIS background to a technology leader role. Can you share how that transition felt?
While HR and IT are so intrinsically linked, when you move over to tech, you do notice the abundance of women in HR. Then suddenly you’re like, ‘Oh, now I’m in the minority’. Your role and view of yourself change because you aren’t just one of many sitting around the table anymore. You stick out.
How do you think the rise of SaaS has changed the landscape for women in technology?
I think the evolution of technologies has been an enabler for women. Women often gravitate toward roles that include consultation, business analysis or project management, whereas for a whole range of reasons, there's a fairly significant gap with women in pure engineering and technical roles. But now, we have SaaS solutions at our fingertips and the skills you need to set up a SaaS solution are more geared toward the skills women have developed. And that’s a wonderful thing, because it's meant that so many more women have been able to move into the tech space. People like me. You don’t need to be a coder anymore to make that shift.
And once female leaders like you are in those roles, role models exist for younger women moving into the industry.
Diversity breeds diversity, right? I currently have around 10 mentees, just within GSK. There's a lot of talent trying to work their way up and it’s important to nurture that in the right way. A lot of companies have made progress by setting ambitious targets around having female leaders at the top. But frankly, I think we’ve got a lot of work to do in the middle. A lot of women drop off in those middle layers of management. We’re getting them in the door, but we’re not progressing them through as well as we can be.
How does GSK go about recruiting women at the global level?
I think we do a really good job and have some fantastic early-career targeting across all our different geographies. So many companies aren’t based out of just one location. We’re all facing global and cultural challenges. Trying to tackle something like diversity becomes even trickier when some locations have progressed more than others. It’s tough, then, when you have global roles and are sourcing them from different markets while still trying to stay true to your diversity goals. Getting women in the door is one thing, but how do you get them to progress all the way up so we’re not having to hire externally for the leadership roles?
What should companies be doing to encourage more women to pursue STEM careers?
Sometimes we don’t look laterally enough for untapped talent. Not everyone has to start in tech to have a great career in tech. We should be saying, ‘hey, there are transferable skills among people here’ – as opposed to just bringing people in at the ground level.
How do you go about creating a culture where women can thrive?
The first thing you have to do is hold up the mirror to yourself and cast the shadow you want to see. I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of great mentors over the years and I try to replicate that with the people who sit within, not only my own organisation, but more broadly as well. I advocate for the female talent I mentor and encourage other leaders to do the same.
What other best practices do you believe promote workplace diversity and inclusion?
Diversity clearly has so many more dimensions than just the female lens. In a broader context, it has to start with education and making sure we’re advocating and being a true ally for all underrepresented groups. We need to make sure we’re stamping out all these unconscious biases, whether that’s through our recruitment processes or through day-to-day interactions. That means things like having diverse recruitment panels when you’re hiring for roles and making sure you’re getting a really diverse talent pool.
How does GSK excel in that regard?
Here at GSK, we’re very good at assessing performance and reward. We work hard to make sure we are calibrating and having those conversations as a leadership team at the end of the year, that we’re making sure we aren’t applying our own biases to people, whether it’s based on proximity, location, gender, or any other factor. We’re looking at the data and challenging ourselves to say, ‘have we given the right people the right rewards and recognition for the work they’ve done?’
What are your top tips for young women and others considering entering tech?
Invest time into building a network – not just with people you work with, but with people in roles to which you aspire. Be curious and reach out to people and try to understand what else is out there. I think most people would be surprised at the diverse types of roles that exist within tech – they aren’t just all coding roles or technical configuration roles. I spend more time dealing with people than I do with systems as a technology leader. And probably the last piece of advice would be: find a good mentor.
My career in technology*
By Anja Fordon, EMEA Staff Writer
Freudenberg Filtration Technologies is a global company producing air and liquid filters. It's part of the Freudenberg Group, a global technology company with 49,000 employees globally. We recently spoke with Edna Lauer, CIO at Freudenberg Filtration Technologies, about diversity, ‘do it yourself IT’ and her 18-year career in technology.
IT and technology aren’t at the top of career wish lists for many young women, or at least that's the common perception. What drove you to start a career in IT?
I've always been fascinated by how companies and their processes work, like how a customer order is processed by the entire company. And I've always enjoyed working with people. But I have to admit that bad processes have always annoyed me. I'm a lazy person and that motivates me to make processes better.
I thought about how I could contribute to making companies more successful, improving business processes and making customers more satisfied. So I decided to study business informatics. That was the perfect decision for me, because I get to work with people, I'm close to business and I help companies become better by improving their processes.
Do you have an example of how you are currently applying those principles at Freudenberg and helping to improve processes?
It starts with the fact that my department is not a classic IT department, but is called CPIM. CPIM stands for corporate processes and information management. We combine different disciplines. In corporate processes we apply lean methods to make processes more efficient, stringent clearer in terms of responsibilities. If these processes are streamlined, we use our IT expertise to automate processes as well. And so a colourful bouquet has emerged of how we create business impact for our customers every day, both internally and externally. That’s very motivating.
The technology industry is much more diverse than we usually think. But how can we encourage more women to pursue careers in tech? Where are we today when it comes to diversity in IT?
I think it’s already evolved a lot. In my consulting career I’ve increasingly seen more women in IT. It’s not all positive experiences, though. I remember being at a project kick-off in the US where a male team member looked me up and down and said “let's see how often you have to ask your male colleagues for help today”. By the end of our time working together, his perspective had completely changed – he said he had never learned so much during a project.
It’s not uncommon to be confronted with these kinds of experiences. It happens. But I learned to see that these situations aren’t always conscious discrimination against women, but rather examples of unconscious prejudice. Behaviours like I experienced develop from it. And you can experience it from other women as much as men. I’m convinced very few people today actually believe in such antiquated stereotypes. What we do see though are unconscious behaviours which emerge from imprinted patterns from the past.
Do you think that we're doing enough to open doors for women in the technology sector?
Definitely not yet. I do think that many companies, Freudenberg in particular, are now doing a lot to get women into management positions, especially in tech. However, I also believe that discriminative behaviour originates much earlier. I feel it stems from our earliest childhood and upbringing. We act the way we do because we have simply been moulded that way. I believe the responsibility of companies has reached a limit in this regard.
Of course, companies can do a lot to encourage women to take up tech positions. I’m convinced we should continue to do so and intensify it. But beyond that, I do think that society as a whole has a responsibility to begin encouraging women, particularly in their childhood and in their upbringing, so following generations can be given a fundamentally different perspective.
You have many years’ experience in the technology sector. From your point of view, what are the advantages of having more diverse teams in tech?
Diverse teams perform much better. And by diverse, I don't just mean gender diversity but also cultural diversity. Today, many companies are positioned globally or operate internationally with different cultures and perspectives. And that’s great! The more perspectives we use to design a solution, the better and more stable the solution will be. However, multiple perspectives can also lead to friction. I believe the future belongs to those who are able to transform differences into strengths. Many women tend to have a good instinct for unifying teams and not allowing differences to be drowned in friction.
What role do peer groups or female role models play in this context?
I don’t think we should underestimate this role. We’ve built up a network at Freudenberg called Women at Work. This is precisely where we’re looking to build solidarity. Different perspectives, from very young, talented women to experienced women, brought together simply to exchange experiences.
It’s easier when you know you’re not alone. The Women at Work network is really successful. It’s very well received and it creates a space for women to get to know role models personally, to exchange experiences and to support each other. I also think that it’s important to admit it’s our own responsibility to shape our careers. No one can outsource that. It doesn't matter whether we have a network or not. The responsibility is and remains with the individual.
What role can male team members play to best support women peers in the tech world?
I think the most important thing is actually awareness. In difficult situations I’ve observed, an overwhelming number of men were not aware of the impact of what they had just said or done. I have an example – a few years ago, we got a new team supervisor. We had our first team meeting and he looked around to see who was taking minutes. Of course, no one volunteered and I was asked to write the minutes, which I did. The second team meeting was very similar. Of course, again, no one wanted to take minutes voluntarily and again I was singled out. This time though, I immediately responded by saying I would be happy to write protocol if every male present also had the opportunity to take minutes once. What followed was a substantial pause and I never wrote minutes again.
The colleague who asked me to take minutes is definitely not prejudiced against women or women's performance. And yet, those were his actions. I think awareness is key. To be aware when you might act upon your unconscious bias or witness behaviours that may not promote diversity. Training in this aspect is something I would honestly recommend to everyone.
What role does technology play in all this?
Oh, that's a good question. First of all, technology is gender-neutral. I'd like to share a story from the Freudenberg Group. We introduced Workday globally as a HR tool, which enabled us – for the first time in our very long company history – to evaluate where we stand in terms of gender and geographical diversity.
With this transparency, we can now establish targeted recruiting, planning and more through targeted talent management. For example, we’re aiming for at least 25 percent of our managers to be female by 2025. The transparency that we’ve achieved with Workday plays a very important role in pursuing and achieving this goal in a structured manner.
What IT trends are keeping you busy right now? What do you think IT professionals should be looking out for in the future?
I think we should look very strongly at the market and our customers. Customer-centricity is what makes companies successful, in my opinion. And IT should simply be designed to make us successful. So how can we use IT and digitisation to help us act more successfully with and for our customers? That’s certainly a trend that’s part of my every day.
The second topic is what I call ‘do it yourself IT’. IT is often a bottleneck. We want to transform IT into an enabler for our company. To do so, I have to select technologies that enable my users to consume IT as easily as possible.
For example, in the past, we’ve seen IT prepare data structures and reporting. But for a business unit to formulate reporting requirements in a way that IT can implement takes time. We’re seeing more and more tech and products where IT provides data cubes or data in a way that allows business units to add their own reporting and dashboard. That generates tremendous agility because departments can simply implement their ideas themselves. That’s my vision of ‘do it yourself IT’. Empowering our users to consume IT themselves but also design it themselves within the framework of IT, governance and security, which must not be ignored.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self and other women, who are just about to start their career?
I’ve shared some experiences and one or two examples from my past. Such experiences can of course be unsettling and so I’d tell my 18-year-old self and other young talented women out there to stay bold and pursue your goals consistently.
There was a time when I would watch TV every morning to get the summary of the football results from the night before, just to be able to talk about it with my colleagues at work. Honestly, if you don't care about football, stay authentic and stay yourself. Don’t talk about football.
We talked earlier about how education is a very important element in why people behave the way they do. Often it's because girls are raised to be kind and polite. But, if you’re determined and persistent, it’s not rude and it's not just a male space. Keep at it. Stay authentic, be yourself and have fun doing it. Please don't let anyone dissuade you.
CTO EMEA, Workday*
By Steve Dunne, EMEA Staff Writer
As this issue of the magazine focuses on women in technology, I wanted to start by getting the background on your career and how you made the decision to work in the industry?
I predominantly worked for large blue chip organisations before joining Workday over four years ago. I did my degree in Business Studies and Computer Studies and although I thought I would end up in business, I ultimately found myself being drawn towards the world of technology. At the time, tech was changing rapidly, the .com era was starting and I quickly found myself with opportunities to progress into a changing world. From .com came digital transformation – and with it cloud technologies. From there, the rest as they say is history. I certainly couldn’t have mapped out my career the way it turned out when I left university but curiosity, taking opportunities (and risks) and my hunger for continuous learning provided me with a great career. I would never have wanted to be in any other profession other than technology.
Shifting to today, there’s obviously a lot of uncertainty in business. How are the leaders you speak to thinking about technology investment?
They’re being very focused and looking at how they can take advantage of digital to drive efficiency and change. The forward-thinking leaders I speak to are making strategic bets. What used to be called calculated risks, but as we’ve seen, the last few years have proven that some risks are worth taking. Just as in the fallout from the last major downturn, the businesses that have invested in tech will steal a march on their competitors and emerge from the downturn ahead of the game. No one is immune to economic uncertainty, but investing in innovation can deliver cost and efficiency benefits that outweigh the risks considerably.
You’ve worked with some progressive organisations in the past, both from a technology and cultural perspective. Can you talk to us about the importance of both elements and also the role of diversity in building effective IT teams?
I think all parts of the equation are absolutely key. You can’t really achieve effective technology transformation unless you have the right culture – and that means having a leadership team that is open, transparent and encourages an innovative mindset. It’s about ensuring your teams come to work as their best selves and have the development and tools available to them to do things differently. It’s about fostering collaboration right across the business. You can deploy the most cutting-edge technology available, but if you don’t drive a cultural change – one that embraces new technology – your employees are never going to get the most from it.
Within that, I’d say having diverse teams is an absolute must to unlock new ways to solve problems and decision making. Innovation means doing things better and that requires different approaches to old problems. There’s a great book from Matthew Syed called ‘Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking’ that says ‘collective intelligence emerges not just from the knowledge of individuals, but also from the differences between them’. I think that encapsulates why diversity is so important to building great teams.
How are the emergence of machine learning, blockchain and generally greater levels of automation changing the skills you look for when building teams and what impact does that have on the barriers to women working in technology?
Due to the shift towards cloud computing and advancements in ML, IT skills are naturally going to become less about infrastructure maintenance and more about adding strategic value to the business and innovating. When you think about Workday, for example, the architecture already provides elasticity for unplanned loads and can respond to process changes without costly development projects, upgrades or functional regression. Those are the benefits of the cloud and by design they impact the skills an IT function actually needs.
To the broader question of its impact on women working in tech, I think if you look at the general uptake of roles by women in STEM, there has clearly been a shortage. There are certainly some great examples of how SaaS has merged technology and business skills which I think has had a positive effect in pushing more women into technology. I’ve seen a lot of colleagues shift from business-focused roles into more pure technology roles and that has to be a positive. I also know many amazing women in technology, both at Workday and other organisations, who started their careers as developers and engineers and are now technology leaders and CIOs in large, global organisations. A career in technology is for everyone.
As we look towards 2023, which technologies do you think will burst into the mainstream and how do you think they will impact businesses?
I think we’re going to see high adoption of machine learning as businesses understand its value and see use cases in action from their peers and competitors. At Workday, those customers who were early adopters are gaining huge benefit from using it and that will continue to grow. Machine learning will continue to facilitate a more engaging user experience and assist with key decision making. Automation more broadly will become commonplace across sectors with significant manual-intensive processes, such as the financial services sector.
As companies and their employees shift between remote and office-based work, we’ll see more of a push towards blockchain adoption, as trust and verification become issues that organisations want to get a better handle on. It’s promising to see the work of those early adopters paying off and at Workday we’re lucky to call some of those businesses our customers.
Finally, we’ve been asking all our guests in this issue, what advice would you give yourself if you were starting out today and what would you have done differently?
In all honesty, there’s not much I would change about my career, even though I could not have written my story when starting out. I may have taken some zig-zags along the way but I never ended up turning right when I wished I had turned left. There are probably times when I should have listened more to my mentors or sponsors and leaders who went before me, but equally there were occasions when I wished I had gone with my gut instinct – yes there are times when the data in front of you is just not enough and human judgement counts for more! For anyone starting on their career, I would leave them with where I started this interview – be curious, take calculated risks, do not shy away from opportunities that may seem ambitious and continue to have a learning mindset.
*It’s time to speak up!
The rise of activism
in the boardroom.*
By Rachel Barton, Europe Strategy Lead at Accenture
Many CEOs I’ve talked to recently are not only grappling with geo-political and macroeconomic challenges, they’re also facing growing demands from their employees, customers and other stakeholders to ‘stand up and be counted’ on the major political and social issues of our time. This is a shift away from the traditional style of leadership, where CEOs focused their communications on the health of the business from a profit and loss perspective and actively avoided speaking out on social or political topics. I recently explored this change in leadership and the important role of productive activism in business with my colleague Debra McCormack, Accenture’s Global Board Effectiveness Lead, Des Dearlove, Co-Founder of Thinkers50, and Megan Reitz, Professor at the Hult International Business School and Author of ‘Speak Up’, which covers the important role of activism in business today.
Here are my reflections, following our conversation.
What is activism?
For some, the word evokes feelings of passion, purpose and positive change. For others, it will conjure images of violent clashes between protesters and the authorities. It can be all these things – and more – but Megan’s research focuses on the role of productive employee activism in the workplace. She writes that activists are not only resilient, authentic advocates for what they believe in, but also brilliant listeners with an enquiring mind – hugely valuable inside any organisation.
Leadership is changing, and CEOs need to keep up
Traditionally, business leaders have avoided lobbying, showing their political colours or speaking up on political or social issues, but times are changing. A recent Kellogg School of Management article shares the results of some research conducted in the US, which found that ‘audiences often regard those who take a neutral public position not as principled or genuinely neutral, but rather as calculating and deceptive’. Increasingly, organisations are expected to take sides in political or social debates, rather than just communicating business strategy and annual financial results. Another on-point article in Forbes explains how, for the CEOs of the world’s largest companies, navigating when and how to show solidarity, allyship and citizenship is fraught with real and perceived risk:
“The consequences of both action and inaction can be measured in an ecosystem of reputational, economic and/or political impacts. The fear of alienating people, be they buyers, subscribers, employees or shareholders en-masse, has long kept good people and good companies from doing more good things and standing up against more bad things.”
The article goes on to say that staying out of the cultural fray is no longer an option, no matter the risks, as stakeholders – whether employees, customers, partners or vendors – are increasingly looking to businesses to address social issues.
Creating a speak-up culture in your organisations might sound simple to achieve. In recent years more people want to bring their whole self to work, with a desire to be open about their background, home life and more. Indeed, through lockdown we all got a glimpse inside each other’s homes as face-to-face meetings gave way to video calls. Many companies have employee networks and forums, which provide regular opportunities for people to share their lived experiences, opinions and ideas with each other. But what happens if employees are encouraged to speak up, yet are not listened to? This could impact talent joining the business or existing talent may choose to leave. Authentic intent matters. If businesses are asking people to speak up, that needs to be backed up with action.
The rise of activism in the boardroom
We’re seeing the rise of modern leaders who are stepping up and making their voices heard on everything from politics to climate change, from health and wellbeing to tackling inequality within society. For example, Satya Nadella from Microsoft regularly posts on his LinkedIn profile and Twitter feed about tackling racial inequality, the need for greater disability inclusion in the workplace and why every business must take positive climate action urgently. Ellyn Shook, Accenture’s Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, has written honestly and passionately about her opinion on the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs Wade in the US and what Accenture is doing to support women in our workforce as a result.
For me there are three main factors leading to the rise of boardroom activism. Firstly, there’s a growing frustration with ongoing political turmoil. Secondly, there has been an increased blurring of the lines between business and society. We already saw a shift in the role of businesses solving for their customers and wider society at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and this has continued. Finally, many stakeholders are clearly demanding that corporate leaders take a stand on issues and speak out about what they’re doing about them. This is leading CEOs to feel more empowered to show their true colours. They understand that role-modelling positive activism will not only reduce the risk of wrong-doing across the organisation as more people feel comfortable speaking up, they’ll also be able to tap into vital knowledge, experience and ideas from their people too. At Accenture, for example, our leadership team is vocal about sustainability and we enable and empower our passionate employees to collaborate and co-create solutions for climate change through our Sustainability Innovation Challenge. The successful ideas and projects will feed into our client and partner work, scaling impact.
Activism is inclusion
Business leaders have a responsibility to ensure their workplace culture is inclusive so that diverse teams can thrive. There’s clearly a link between diversity and inclusion and workplace activism. Debra put it very well, saying: “Diversity is a fact, but inclusion is an act.” Inclusion is about culture and most business leaders understand that more creativity and innovation is unlocked when we have diverse teams. But for those diverse teams to thrive a space needs to be created for robust conversations to happen. To be authentic, leaders should make time to listen to people from different backgrounds and under-represented groups, who have different lived experiences. It’s not enough to have diverse voices in the room, they need to be heard and their ideas acted upon.
Increasingly our clients are encountering this new dynamic of activism in the workplace and what that really means, authentically, for their business. It often starts with defining a clear purpose – a ‘North Star’ that everybody understands and is working towards so that the actions behind a speak-up culture galvanise around a common position. As a strategist, I’m excited about the opportunity to help clients think about the role of activism in becoming fit for the future. How the board makes space for all stakeholders to share their voice, not just shareholders, will be increasingly important because transformational change can begin small, but when nurtured it can create a groundswell – leading to profound, impactful change.
*Elevating women in
cyber, an interview
By EMEA Staff Writer
In today’s digitally transformed, highly connected, social and information-driven world, cyber plays a key role as a business enabler. And achieving a strong cyber posture requires an inclusive approach – bringing diverse voices, perspectives and experiences to the table and seeking to drive change in an industry where women are historically underrepresented.
At Deloitte, we celebrate our Women in Cyber and also shine a light on other women in the field. During the RSA Conference 2022, we showcased their cutting-edge work and accomplished careers at the Equality Lounge®, which Deloitte co-hosted with The Female Quotient and RSA® Conference .
Ahead of the Equality Lounge, Deloitte Global Cyber Leader, Emily Mossburg, spoke with Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, about developments in the field and the need for gender equality. The interview (which first appeared on the RSA blog) is below.
Shelley Zalis: The cyber industry isn’t a one-dimensional place. In the interest of expanding future recruitment efforts, can you paint a more detailed picture about what (and who) make up the cyber sector? What are the different kinds of roles in cyber and what skill sets are vital to success that people may not have considered part of the mix?
Emily Mossburg: Cyber continues to expand into an increasingly broad topic. When we started in this space, it was focused on protecting the perimeter of an organisation. Think about protecting a castle, if we put the right moat around it, we don’t have to put locks on the castle doors or on anything inside the castle. But the world that we live in today has evolved so much in terms of our dependence and use of technology. The castle doesn't have a moat anymore, or it might, but there are also multiple bridges coming in and out. And now you can also drop things down from the air and parachute in.
What that means is that the risks associated with a cyberattack have changed. And it’s not just about keeping people in or out of the organisation. It’s about understanding the primary business, understanding the types of data that are being shared, which data is sensitive and why, the legal ramifications of the policy and what an adversary may be after. For all of those reasons, the types of individuals that we need to have thinking about the problems have changed. We need a broader set of individuals with different backgrounds, ideas and experiences to face this daunting challenge, who are committed to fresh takes on how to approach a problem and invest in solving it. People who are willing to collaborate with others to craft a solution. It’s definitely a team sport.
Shelley Zalis: What opportunities are there for women in cyber?
Emily Mossburg: I think traditionally we’ve talked about cyber as a tech or engineering field – and it is. But as it continues to evolve and expand, cyber is an area increasingly driven by professionals with rich experience in privacy, risk, business and the law. It’s vital we recruit a diverse group of individuals who can successfully navigate this more broadly defined sector.
Women are making inroads into technology and engineering and they boast even more significant power in related fields that are now vital parts of the cyber arena. I’ve been in this space for about 20 years. I have a degree in environmental science, not environmental engineering. And look where I ended up! Women have been proven connectors in businesses of all kinds. In that respect, there are so many compelling opportunities for us in cyber.
Cyber is also a sector that is growing exponentially. Regardless of what survey you look at, the number of unfilled roles is in the millions globally. If we are not bringing all types of people along on the journey, we won’t be able to meet the mission to protect the organisations and the society that we’re all part of.
Shelley Zalis: Who is your role model in cyber? Is there a woman leader who has added nuance to our understanding of cybersecurity and its evolving and expanding role in our work and our lives?
Emily Mossburg: Rather than just one person, I have a patchwork of different people who have inspired me in various ways. Inspired me to be a stronger and better leader. Inspired me to be a better cyber practitioner, in terms of understanding the field and expanding my competency. Inspired me to develop better ways to collaborate with others. I try to learn from everyone I work with, across all disciplines. They may be people who have led me, or my peers. And they may be individuals on my team, sharing exciting ways of looking at the world that I want to emulate. I have a 360-degree approach to meaningful mentorship.
Shelley Zalis: What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self about getting started in cyber?
Emily Mossburg: I’d tell my younger self to ask more questions. Looking back, I recall I didn’t ask as many questions early on in my career as I should have. I think it was because I viewed asking questions as showing that I didn’t know something, or I didn’t understand. The way I think about asking questions now, is that I inquire to show that I want to understand and I want a deeper meaning and understanding. So definitely don’t be afraid to ask questions!
*Key takeaways from the Women Transforming Technology Conference 2022*
By Sarah Ospina, Vice President, Ventures Investment, Workday
Workday was a platinum sponsor of the seventh annual Women Transforming Technology Conference, an event that aligns with the Workday Ventures goal, to provide opportunities for the next generation of women entrepreneurs. It brings together organisations from industry, academia and non-profit sectors to build community and tackle prominent issues for women in technology. The conference looks to inspire, support and connect attendees in all areas and levels of technology in Silicon Valley and beyond.
The theme of this year’s Women Transforming Technology Conference was ‘elevate joy’ and my colleague Barbry McGann, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at Workday Ventures, kicked off the conference by highlighting the joys of mentorship. She shared tips on how to engage with a potential mentor or mentee and provided practical frameworks for goal setting and check-ins to make it a rewarding experience for all parties. Other Workday-led sessions included how to evaluate a company culture and ensure corporate values align with your own, strategies for how to drive equity, inclusion and belonging in technology companies and best practices for optimising balance and growth if you’re a full-time remote employee.
As part of the conference, I moderated the CEO and founders roundtable on innovating, leading and learning. Three extraordinary women spoke authentically about the challenges and joys of founding their own companies. Our panellists included Lindsay Jurist-Rosner, CEO and Founder of Wellthy, who created a company that provides personalised caregiving support to help families balance work and the demands of caring for a loved one, Laura Del Beccaro, CEO and Co-Founder of Sora, a company that helps human resources operations teams scale amazing employee onboarding experiences in less time and Katica Roy, CEO and Founder of Pipeline Equity, who built a SaaS platform to increase financial performance of companies by closing the intersectional gender equity gap.
Our 75-minute panel discussion covered several fascinating topics. Here are some key observations I took from the day:
Empathy and innovation
What inspired each founder to start their own company often involved deeply personal experiences that informed innovation. In the case of Jurist-Rosner, this involved navigating healthcare decisions for a parent for 28 years, which then led her to start a company that could make caregiving easier.
Culture continues to be a CEO priority at early-stage companies. It fuels collaboration, innovation and employee experiences, which are critical to helping companies grow and succeed. Del Beccaro spoke about her belief that innovative products stem from a great collaborative culture and how a positive customer experience has a direct correlation to culture.
Learning new skills
Building your skillset is a lifelong endeavour and the founders discussed the valuable skills they wished they had gained earlier in their careers. For Jurist-Rosner, it was the importance of becoming an empathetic storyteller and having the confidence to relentlessly pitch and sell her ideas. Del Beccaro talked about the need to sift through advice and not get locked into a notion of one right way for a company to accomplish its goals. Roy spoke about the ability to stand up and speak out in the face of inequity.
Although women have made tremendous strides in the venture space, there is still more opportunity, as women founders only secured two percent of venture capital in the US in 2021. Early-stage fundraising tends to be based on connections and belief in the individual’s capability instead of concrete company metrics and results. Roy spoke candidly about how women founders are often asked ‘prevention questions’. For example, ‘how do you intend to prevent competitors from entering the market?’ or ‘how will you prevent revenue decline in a recession?’. On the flip side, men are often asked ‘promotion questions’, such as ‘how big can this company be?’ or ‘what is the potential market share?’. Understanding these dynamics and knowing how to turn a prevention question into a promotion question is vital for women raising money.
This is just a snippet of the great insights these exceptional women shared with our audience. I was truly inspired to hear the panellists openly and honestly discuss their perspectives. I personally took away so much and am confident that the attendees did too. You can watch the complete recording of the conversation here. Workday Ventures will continue to support events and networking, as well as champion our goal to provide opportunities for the next generation of women entrepreneurs.