This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Everything Enterprise Connect 2024: News, trends and insights

Creating equity for women in communications and technology

Creating a more equitable workplace starts at the top. Female IT leaders at Enterprise Connect explain how to create a culture that supports women in communications.

When Karen Gordon began her career in telecommunications, many of her colleagues were women. But, as she progressed in her career, she saw fewer women in the industry, especially in leadership roles.

"In IT, there just aren't as many women, and men don't always amplify the voices of women," Gordon said. "How do we figure out getting those talented women to keep showing up and speaking up about what they have to offer?"

According to McKinsey's "Women in the Workplace 2023" report, women make up 42% of entry-level roles in IT services and telecom. But that number decreases when looking at senior and leadership positions. For example, women in IT services and telecom only comprise 28% of C-suite positions.

Gordon, telecom supervisor at law firm King & Spalding, and other female IT leaders spoke at Enterprise Connect on how organizations can better support women in communications and technology, and create a more equitable work environment.

Equity starts with leadership

Creating more equity for women in communications starts with leadership strategies.

"It starts at the top, you constantly have to be thinking about how to narrow the gap in representation," said Danielle Joiner McPherson, director of global reservations tech and innovation at Delta Air Lines.

For example, to strive toward equitable hiring, Delta no longer has educational degree requirements. By taking this approach, the airline can include a wider population of highly skilled individuals.

Monica Lim, senior director of enterprise architecture governance at Experian, echoed that strategy. Lim said she pushed Experian's talent acquisition team to aim for half of job candidates to come from a diverse talent pool, including women.

The goal is to eliminate old ways of thinking that there aren't enough candidates for certain roles or that leadership isn't seeing women apply to jobs, she said.

But equity doesn't stop at hiring. Succession planning is key to elevating women in communications technology. When IT leaders are looking at growth opportunities for staff, they shouldn't overlook quiet or unassuming employees.

"Sometimes you need that support from someone who knows your work and knows you can do it," Lim said.

Building a mentorship community for women is also important, Gordon said. Mentorships create opportunities for networking and learning.

Intersectionality boosts equity

Intersectional gender equity, which includes race, sexual orientation, religion and gender identity, can help create a more equitable workplace overall.

Delta has a corporate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy that each department reviews and determines how it applies to various teams, Joiner McPherson said.

Delta's domestic and international contact center, for example, has a DEI council consisting of contact center employees at all levels. The council defines how to set goals and objectives for the contact center based on community and culture, she said.

Speaking up on ambitions

Women in communication and technology must also advocate for themselves to advance their careers.

"No one else can tell your story better than you," said Joiner McPherson. As women gain more technology experience and skills, they can refine their story to show the value they drive for the business, she said.

Lim highlighted this with an example of an Experian event celebrating women at the company. At a panel, an audience member asked the executives what they aspire to next. One woman on the panel, Jennifer Schulz, quickly pointed to then-CEO Craig Boundy and said she wanted his job. Boundy is now global COO of Experian and Schulz was named North American CEO in 2022.

"If she hadn't planted the idea in his head, it wouldn't have happened," Lim said.

Katherine Finnell is senior site editor for TechTarget's unified communications site. She writes and edits articles on a variety of business communications technology topics, including unified communications as a service, video conferencing and collaboration.

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