“Our male allies help us create a more inclusive environment”

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This International Women’s Day, it’s important to recognise the contributions of women across all industries, but especially in the fields of technology and transformation where gender parity remains stunted. While progress is being made, there is still a long way to go. Women continue to face obstacles and challenges in male-dominated industries and so the theme of IWD this year is #EmbraceEquity.

It reminds us that we need to work together to create a world that is free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world where everyone is given the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. By embracing equity, we can celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and take action to drive gender parity.

In celebration of diversity and inclusion, we had the privilege of interviewing some of our inspiring female associates who work in various disciplines in the technology and transformation field. We asked them a series of questions to gain insights into their experiences and challenges, and any advice for other women who aspire to pursue a career in the industry. We hope that these interviews will inspire you to embrace equity in your own life and take action towards a more inclusive workplace.

In this third instalment of our blog series, Consulting Partner, Jacqueline Shakespeare discusses the importance of male allyship and how a Board that is committed to inclusivity is more likely to make decisions that are fair and equitable.

1. What inspired you to pursue a career in tech/transformation, and what do you enjoy most about your job?

I’m not sure initially my career plan was that well thought through! My first job was in the construction industry. But I soon found myself attracted to, and moving into a career in tech where I could be more innovative, creative and focus on customer experience.

2. How have you overcome any obstacles or challenges in your career as a woman in a male-dominated industry?

Firstly, to try and stay aware of, and work to overcome my own biases and prejudices. This hopefully helps me to better understand and empathise with everyone around me as well as making sure I’m not unintentionally perpetuating any harmful stereotypes or biases.

Then, for me it’s about maintaining a growth mindset, to always be learning and focussing on building my own skills and knowledge, striving to be my best self in everything I do at work, irrespective of my gender.

And finally, being close to the brilliant and smart women around me. They offer support, mentorship, and constantly challenge my thinking.

3. How have you seen the industry change over the years in terms of gender equality and inclusivity?

It’s been great over the years to see increased awareness of the gender disparities in tech and the need for more inclusive workplaces. I see more women in leadership roles, more female role models and support networks, building the confidence of women and inspiring them to succeed. In addition, many organisations now have a greater focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives, implementing programmes to promote diversity and inclusion, like mentorship programmes and flexible work arrangements.

4. What advice would you give to other women wanting to start a career in tech?

Firstly, believe in yourself and your abilities. Don’t be intimidated by the industry or the stereotypes that exist about women in tech.

Then focus on developing your skills and knowledge and building a trusted network. Seek out role models and mentors who can provide guidance, inspiration and support along the way.

If you bring different thinking and skills from those around you, know this as a strength and that you are bringing diversity and a different perspective to your business.

And finally, keep asking questions, be curious, take risks.

5. How do you think the technology sector can become more inclusive?

There are lots of ways the sector can drive inclusivity, and many are already being implemented by organisations such as supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives, promoting flexible working arrangements and so on.

But for me, the most important step organisations can take is for all Board members and Senior Leaders to be strong role models with respect to inclusivity.

This sends a powerful message to all employees that inclusivity is valued and respected, creating a culture where everyone feels appreciated. And a Board that is committed to inclusivity is more likely to make decisions that are fair and equitable, which can improve the company’s reputation and attract a more diverse customer base by creating products and services that better reflect the needs of all users.

6. How have you benefited from working with colleagues from diverse backgrounds?

When I’ve worked in diverse teams, comprised of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, we’ve generated a broader range of ideas with real creativity and innovation. Part of that is because we’ve understood, and been able to better respond to, the needs and preferences of our customer base through our different backgrounds and experiences. Ultimately this means we developed more effective products and services, attracted and retained great talent, and delivered great financial results.

7. What initiatives or policies do you believe organisations can implement to support and promote gender equity in the workplace?

Leveraging the support and influence of male allies is often underestimated. They can amplify women’s (and other underrepresented groups in the workplace) voices. They can help to challenge bias and discrimination, calling out inappropriate behaviour and language, advocating for equal treatment and opportunities for all employees. And they can also model inclusive behaviour by demonstrating respect, empathy, and openness to different perspectives.

8. Finally, who are some women that you admire and look up to, either within the industry or beyond?

I admire women who are honest and authentic in the workplace. Women who work hard, are brilliant at their jobs and bring their human selves to work. When she resigned as prime minister of New Zealand earlier this year, Jacinda Ardern said, ‘I am human’ and ‘I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice’. She knew when she was doing her best work, and recognised when it was time to step back.

Written by
Sullivan & Stanley