View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you

#BeBoldForChange: Women in tech explain what International Women’s Day means to them

It is International Women's Day, with CBR's Ellie Burns responding to this year's #BeBoldForChange call to action by bringing together the top women in tech to celebrate IWD. Tech leaders from the likes of Accenture, RSA, Symantec, Fujitsu, and Dell EMC share what IWD means to them, as well as advice to fellow women on this day of celebration.

By Ellie Burns

Today, Wednesday 8 March, is International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The annual day of celebration also marks a call for action for accelerating gender parity, with this year’s central theme calling on the masses to #BeBoldForChange.

The #BeBoldForChange campaign theme is a battle cry, calling on everyone to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world. We are a long way off from bidding farewell to the gender gap – 2186(!) according to the WEF – but today can be an important catalyst for change and push us closer to gender parity.

International Women’s Day calls on everyone to take action and be leaders in their own spheres to accelerate change. Offering my support to the cause and rallying female leaders in the tech world, I am using my sphere of influence to bring you some of the women in tech who are driving change and diversity in tech. From what International Women’s Day means to them, to why workplace diversity is so important, here’s hoping that this article encourages you, man or woman, to #BeBoldForChange.

Women in Tech: Claire Vyvyan, Senior Vice President and General Manager UK&I, Dell EMC

International Women's Day Claire Vyvyan Dell EMC

EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

CV: For me, it’s the one day which brings into focus the work we do all year round as an organisation, promoting diversity and inclusion across the business. It gives us an opportunity to profile the outstanding contributions of women at Dell EMC, as well as those in the broader community, and reminds us of how far we have come in the UK. However, it also highlights the work that still needs to be done for our daughters and our grand-daughters, to ensure true equality of opportunity for all.


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

CV: We are surrounded by technology and in this new digital world, technology is critical to the future success of individuals and businesses alike. It’s therefore paramount that we encourage more women into this industry. As one of the largest technology innovators on the planet, we aim to develop services and products that will be applicable to the whole community. Innovation and development in this industry needs a balanced representation across the whole population – 50 percent of which is female. We need to encourage more women to get involved in tech across the board, whether that is in a technology company or working in a tech role in other sectors. It will be important to provide flexible working opportunities and for companies to promote and drive their diversity and inclusion agendas. This will showcase an environment where there are opportunities available for women and other minority groups to flourish.

Content from our partners
Scan and deliver
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester


EB: How can the industry kick-start change for women in tech?

CV: In many ways the technology industry is a great place for women (and men) to work, as they offer some of the very best flexible work policies. However, I believe it’s important for the tech industry to convey the following:

  • The role of technology in transformation of the workforce and workplace to make it better for all
  • The criticality of technology in shaping businesses and public services over the next 10 years and the opportunity to be hugely creative and make an impact on the world


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

CV: In a world where the population is steadily aging, for businesses to succeed and flourish (much of which will be driven by digital transformation) companies need to attract talent. The talent pool will inevitably get smaller over time as the age profile of the population shifts, and the demand for technology skills will increase. An inclusive and diverse agenda will be critical in ensuring the correct talent is sought after, enabling businesses to grow and develop in a challenging landscape.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

CV: Life is short. Get out of bed every day, do your absolute best as an individual, and try to make a difference to those around you. Commitment and passion for what you do matter, and don’t let perceived barriers get in the way of making the biggest contribution you can make.


IWD serves as an annual reminder for Lynn Collier, Hitachi Data Systems COO

Women in Tech: Lynn Collier, COO UK&I, Hitachi Data Systems

International Women's Day Lynn Collier, HDS

EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

LC: International Women’s Day is an annual reminder for us to take stock of the progress we’ve made when it comes to equality; celebrate women and their achievements in business, politics and culture; and understand “what’s next” for the technology industry in terms of encouraging women to enter into – and remain within – our sector.


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

LC: For me, #BeBoldForChange is all about the need for businesses, education and the government to drive progress for women in the technology industry. For example, ensuring regulation and opportunities are in place to support women to build a future within the tech industry; advertising jobs to all candidates in an inclusive way; and championing positive female role models within the industry and the workplace. For women already working within the sector, they must #BeBoldForChange by championing their peers in the workplace, creating communities and support networks, and educating the next generation of women in tech on all of the varied roles available within our sector.

EB: How can we kick-start change for women in tech?

LC: To kick-start change for women in tech, businesses need to remember that there is still more that can be done and ensure diversity remains a top priority. It’s not about introducing mandatory quotas, it’s about recognising the need for diversity across all levels and departments, and encouraging women within the business to continue to strive to reach their goals and remain a part of this fantastic industry. Additionally, as part of our leadership training we should all be thinking about educating managers to recognise and remedy unconscious bias.


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

LC: There’s no doubt that a diverse workplace is vital for the success of a business. It ensures that organisations readily access and can capitalise on varied skillsets; that a company’s workforce can reflect its diverse customer community; and ensure that the best new hires from all backgrounds continue to be attracted to the organisation. Productivity and innovation are welcome outcomes delivered by a diverse workplace.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

LC: In my personal view, the most important thing for women in business and technology is to continue to deliver value to the organisations and communities in which we participate and to remember to passionately champion others – both within their organisations and their wider networks. It is only with strong female role models and active networks of support and encouragement that women will continue to enter into the technology industry and provide the diversity that will enable businesses to thrive.”


IWD is a day of reflection for Emma McGuigan, Accenture UK&I Senior MD

Women in Tech: Emma McGuigan, senior managing director at Accenture UK&I

International Women's Day Emma McGuigan
EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

EM: International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on our progress towards gender equality in the workplace and in society in general. It’s a day to celebrate, but it’s also important to look at the challenges that remain and ensure we are taking the right actions to address them. Accenture’s research has found that women graduating from university in developed markets in 2020 could be the first generation to close the gender pay gap in their professional lifetimes – but only if they take certain actions that include acquiring enhanced tech and digital skills and managing their careers proactively.

At Accenture, I’m always inspired by the way that men and women throughout the business come together around International Women’s Day to discuss and debate gender equality. It makes me proud to work for a company that puts creating a truly diverse workforce at the top of its agenda.


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

EM: We must expand our efforts to drive up the number of women joining the tech industry. Accenture’s research has found that girls’ engagement with STEM is waning as they reach the age when they begin to consider their subject choices and future careers. We have to address this by doing more to spark and retain girls’ interest in STEM at an early age, while expanding perceptions and demonstrating what a career or a person who works in STEM looks like beyond the traditional stereotypes.


EB: How can we kick-start change for women in tech?

EM: Early engagement is critical and at Accenture we’re committed to working with schools and organisations such as Stemettes to ignite girls’ interest in STEM and expose them to the variety of STEM-based careers available. We recently hosted our annual ‘Girls in STEM’ events across the UK and into other countries for the first time – over 2,000 girls aged 11-13 joined us for a series of talks and workshops which showcased some of the most exciting applications of STEM


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

EM: At Accenture we believe that a diverse workforce that truly represents the world we live in, performing in an inclusive environment where people can bring their true authentic selves, will drive innovation and productivity, which helps us better serve the needs of our clients, our people and our communities.

Considering just gender diversity for a moment, we know that today more women are consumers of gadgets and users of digital technology, yet they are under-represented when it comes to innovating, designing and building these solutions. This mismatch needs to be addressed if we are to create the most compelling tech solutions that really meet users’ needs.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

EM: It’s important to proactively manage your career and one thing I’ve found works is to build your networks – they provide a strong source of support and they ensure that women can learn from each other’s journeys so they are well-equipped to tackle any challenges. They enable women starting out in their careers to identify role models and visualise the path to promotion, and they give established leaders the opportunity to share their experiences and tips for success.

All of us need to get involved, men and women alike as no one else is coming – if each of us can all pull one more woman up and inspire one more girl into the industry then this discussion will soon be one for the history books.


IWD is a day of celebration for WP Engine CEO, Heather Brunner

Women in Tech: Heather Brunner, CEO WP Engine

International Women's Day Heather BrunnerEB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

HB: At WP Engine we encourage and are intentional about diversity as we aspire to build a company of equals. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity for employers to celebrate the achievements of women and encourage women to take on new challenges. It’s also a great prompt for many different industries to take stock of where they are in terms of workplace equality, ensuring we collectively continue to strive for equal opportunities for all.


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

HB: If you look at recent studies such as the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2016 you’ll see the reality is that there hasn’t been enough progress in regards to gender equality in the workplace. These are issues that impact not only women but many other groups that are underrepresented in technology – the most vibrant and innovative industry in the world. I would therefore like to see more women, and individuals from diverse backgrounds, be given the opportunity to thrive in this sector. As someone who has worked within tech for over 25 years, I can’t emphasise enough what an exciting time it is to be involved in its rapid growth and development right now. We all need to build the future we want!

EB: How can we kick-start that change for women in tech?

HB: Through educating the industry on the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workforce. As soon as companies realise the benefits that come from having greater diversity in the workplace, the sooner we’ll see greater equal opportunities. Here at WP Engine we are building a company of equals, we believe that every business should feel the same way.

While cultivating diversity is the responsibility of all in the tech sector, a lot of power lies with employers to fuel change in their own businesses by taking a bold approach. For us this means opening the doors a bit wider and investing on the inside to help cultivate an environment that intentionally supports women with their tech aspirations. This includes consciously ensuring our values embrace differences and equality

EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

HB: For us, being in a company that’s experienced this level of quick expansion, we’ve seen in a very real way that our diverse staffing helps us connect with customers in those 140 countries – and it’s an important strength that should be recognised by all employers.

A diverse workplace and world is important as it brings together so many creative and passionate minds. Take WP Engine for example: 30 percent of our workforce does not have a university degree. One third of our employees are female, which is higher than industry average in technical and engineering roles and one third of employees are classed as ‘non-white’ in ethnicity. Thanks to this rich mixture of individuals we are far better at intuiting our customer’s needs. Failing to open up the workplace to a diverse culture could also be detrimental to your business by making it less able to connect with an increasingly global customer base thus impairing business performance.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

HB: My advice for women this International Women’s Day is that if you thrive on change and want to help shape the future, it’s time to join the technology industry. Whether it’s marketing or coding, sales or design, technology companies want great, passionate minds to join their teams. Gender should not hold anyone back from their aspirations! At WP Engine we champion diversity and reap the rewards. Remember – balance doesn’t just happen; you have to create an environment where differences are valued and encouraged. I’m proud to work in such a diverse and inclusive environment where 30 per cent of our employees are women,  60 per cent of our executives are women and 30 per cent of our employees do not have a college degree. We are committed to lead the way on diversity!


IWD is a day to highlight talent for Sian John, Chief Strategist EMEA at Symantec

Women in Tech: Sian John, Chief Strategist EMEA, & Orla Cox, Director of Security Response, Symantec

International Women's Day Sian John, Symantec

EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

SJ: My experience ranges from working as a security architect, an independent security consultant and to project execution at Houses of Parliament and Reuters. I’ve evolved my skill sets since day one of my career in the cybersecurity industry. Although women are underrepresented in the industry, there are many talented female cyber security professionals out there waiting to be found. And International Women’s Day is the perfect time to highlight our broad diversity of talents.


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

OC: The number of STEM subjects chosen by female students at university is declining overall. Only over the last few years have we seen dedicated security courses available for students to take in University. Enabling girls to be aware of what careers there are in cybersecurity, and encouraging them to get involved with STEM subjects from a younger age could encourage more women into a career in this space.


EB: How can we kick-start change for women in tech?
Orla Cox, Symantec

Orla Cox, Director of Security Response, Symantec

OC: There is a long road ahead but there is definitely a keen will to get more women involved in the industry. A lot of effort is needed to attract women to choose a career in cybersecurity and I think that by educating  younger girls on what’s out there and creating role models they can look up to would really help. Hopefully over the next few years as more women climb the ladder and get into senior roles in the industry, younger girls will see this as being a potential career path for them.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

SJ: If you’re the type that wants a career outside of the norm, and with no week the same as the last, a career in Cybersecurity might be just right. With only 7% of European IT security roles filled by females, we need to focus on closing the gender gap and recruiting more skilled and intelligent women in the sector.


Niloofar Razi Howe, Chief Strategy Officer at RSA, wants to celebrate female role models on IWD

Women in Tech: Niloofar Razi Howe, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at RSA

EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

NH: International Women’s Day is a call to action. One of the biggest challenges that we see in tech, particularly in the cyber security industry, is a talent shortage. Unlike other industries, info sec actually has a negative employment rate; figures vary, but there are roughly more than one million jobs not filled, which is expected to grow to 1.5 million by 2019. The only way to solve this it to get more people involved.International Women’s Day Niloofar Razi Howe

Women make up only 33 percent of the tech industry, and it’s even worse in cyber security, where this figure is just 11 percent. The industry has to do better. We need to make more women excited to join the fight to make cyber space safe against hackers, criminals and sophisticated adversaries who intend to do us harm and to do this, we need diversity of backgrounds, diversity of experience, and diversity of perspective. We have to ensure that the workplace is accommodating for all kinds of people – improving diversity on the whole, beyond gender, is incredibly important. Diversity encourages new ways of thinking, innovation, and greater opportunity to attract great minds, it improves the top line, the bottom line, corporate culture, recruiting and retention. The fact is embracing diversity will help businesses thrive.”

EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

NH: Many people are calling for more strong female role models in tech, but the fact is they already exist. We need to celebrate these bold women, making sure their stories are told and heard so that we can inspire girls to pursue careers in technology, including cybersecurity. At the RSA Innovation Sandbox this year at the RSA Conference, four out of the top ten companies had female CEOs, and this is something that has the potential to inspire women to look into the tech industry.

We need to move past the conversation about how hard it is to be a female in the tech world, and into how rewarding it is to work in such a fast-evolving, mission-driven market, that touches every aspect of our lives and has a real and profound impact on our society and the future.


EB: How can kick-start change for women in tech?

NH: Culture starts from the top down; having a senior management team that values diversity and can articulate that importance to the rest of the workforce is invaluable. If you have a more diverse senior management team then it is more likely that your overall workforce will be more diverse.

There are also practical steps you can take. For example, when I am looking to make a hire, I will always make sure at least half of the pipeline of candidates is diverse. I will always hire the right person for the job, but you would be surprised what a small change like this makes as you often find amazing people who for whatever reason may have otherwise been over-looked.

Once hired, continued mentorship is key. We need more venues where inspiring women and aspiring girls can gather to talk about career paths in technology broadly and cybersecurity specifically. At RSA Conference this year, we held a Women in Leadership event which had 400 attendees, both males and female. At this event we encouraged attendees to either find a younger person to mentor or to connect with someone who could mentor you. Having strong mentors – male of female – makes a real difference when it comes to employee retention, which is a huge issue for the industry. It was encouraging to see the number of male attendees has risen dramatically on previous years, as people recognise this isn’t a ‘women’ issue, diversity is a business problem.


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

NH: Improving diversity of all kinds improves top and bottom line performance. This isn’t about ‘social good’, it’s about performing better by innovating and thinking differently; if everyone is the same, then how can you expect different answers?

I think every individual has the potential to bring unique assets and perspective to the task at hand; be it technology, other STEM fields, or other endeavours entirely. When you have people with diverse backgrounds, different approaches for solving hard problems will emerge and why wouldn’t you want all options on the table? To not tap into the differences we all bring is short-sighted and, as studies have shown, hurts both innovation and profitability.

We need more bright minds at the table, more people that can think differently to the average person in the industry. It’s not just the coding part of info security that needs a boost, we need UX experts, graphic designers and social scientists to make the product easier to use and understand, policy people to make it easier to solve issues and business people to build up a business.

EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

NH: With apologies to Nike, just do it. There is an analogy I like to use—I love skiing, and especially tree skiing. When you go tree skiing, your mindset is really important because your skis will go where your eyes go. So if you focus on the trees, you will end up wrapped around one. But if you focus on the path through the trees, you will make it through.

I’m an English literature major. I’m not an engineer or computer scientist by training, but I followed my heart and interests, taught myself to code at the age of 13, continued to study further and here I am. That’s the great thing about technology today. The field has become so big and pervasive that it takes all types. EMC’s Critical Incident Response Centre (CIRC), arguably one of the leading CIRCs in the world, has an analyst on staff that was a history major in college. Yes, we need a lot of women engineers and scientists but we need philosophers, psychologists, historians, and more as well.


Men need to be part of the diversity equation – like women in tech advocate Rich Montgomery from Verizon

Women in Tech Advocate: Rich Montgomery, Group Vice President, International, Verizon

EB: How can kick-start change for women in tech?

RM: We need HR teams to understand the benefits of diverse teams, and to be willing to work harder to find diverse candidates. We need facilities teams to create office spaces which are welcoming for all generations. We need IT teams to give multiple technology options to suit different working styles. And we need business leaders to ensure that all of this is a priority, rather than a ‘nice to do at some point in the future’.International Women’s Day Rich Montgomery


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

RM: A diverse workforce helps you to better understand your customers, and their own diverse perspectives. In a global marketplace, insights and cultural sensitivity gained from those with roots in other countries or cultures can be invaluable. A diverse workforce also enables you to benefit from a wide range of thoughts and ideas which can fuel innovation – the lifeblood of the digital economy. And having different perspectives on a problem – born of different life experiences – will produce different solutions.

Added to this, there is a significant body of research that shows that companies with a higher proportion of women in their executive committees have better financial performance. So a better gender balance equates to business success. And as the digital economy continues to grow, competition is only going to increase, and any incremental benefit to the bottom line will be welcomed.

For me, the importance of diversity in business is not just about the bottom line, or the benefits, or even best business practice – it’s about the culture of the organisation I want to work for. I want my world of work to be one where everyone’s talents are recognised, and appreciated, one where my daughters – and all our children – will have access to the same opportunities I have had throughout my career.


IWD is a reminder that there is still much to do for Fujitsu’s Helen Lamb

Women in Tech: Helen Lamb, Head of Strategic Pursuits Unit, Global Delivery Group at Fujitsu

EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

HL: To me, International Women’s Day is two things. It is a reminder that while we have made progress in gender equality, there is still so much to do. The day when we have bridged the gender gap and every sector has a 50:50 gender split is a dream for many men and women across all industries. But it’s well-reported that, in tech at least, this is still a long way off. Women hold only 12.8% of STEM jobs in the UK, and the situation is similar worldwide. I myself work in a global role, and I am conscious that we can all make a difference, whatever country we’re in. So, International Women’s Day is also a global call to action, for us all to continue to work for equality in the tech sector and beyond.International Women’s Day Helen Lamb


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

HL: I would like everyone in tech, regardless of gender, to work together to really celebrate and pursue diversity and inclusion.  We all need to support each other, and it shouldn’t be a ‘men vs. women’ battle. We all have a vital role to generally encourage people into the tech industry and in particular it is important to demonstrate to women that tech is accessible, offers amazing career opportunities and is a great place to be. This involves offering support, advice, guidance, sponsorship and mentorship. We need to promote the positive message that diversity brings serious cultural and business benefits, and that everyone has a stake in making it a reality.


EB: How can we kick-start change for women in tech?

HL: It’s clear that technology has ‘brand issues.’ To many people, tech companies are still suggestive of male-dominated, ‘nerdy’ environments where every role is highly technical with a ‘boys club’ atmosphere. As an industry, we need to take positive steps to dispel these misconceptions, make ourselves more appealing and show what tech is really about – shaping how we live our lives. It should also be clear that encyclopaedic technical knowledge is not needed for every tech role. I myself came to Fujitsu as a graduate in business studies. Attitude and outlook are crucial, technical knowledge can be learned.


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

HL: It’s important to remember that there are real business advantages to employing a diverse workforce. We must avoid treating gender balance as a ‘nice to have’, morally correct objective. The long term success of any organisation, particularly in fast-moving fields like technology, depends on having a diverse body of talent bringing in fresh perspectives, ideas and values that are supported, encouraged and valued. Businesses can become stilted if everyone comes from the same background; a mixture of complementary skills are needed to produce an interesting and engaging offering.

On top of that, a lack of diversity can stunt a business’ ability to communicate effectively with its own range of customers. Women represent a large proportion of customers, with purchasing power, in both their professional and private lives. Businesses must understand and reflect that audience. As a result, neglecting women in the workforce could be a costly mistake.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

HL: My message would be, never be put off from a career in technology because of your preconceptions. Tech is one of the most exciting, fast-moving and influential forces acting not only on businesses, but societies around the world today. It is crucial to the future success of our economy, and women will play a key role in ensuring the sector thrives. Think seriously about the amazing possibilities working in technology can bring, and then go for it!


IBM’s Jeanna Jang wants accessibility on IWD


Women in Tech: Jeanne Jang, Director of the IBM Digital Innovation Lab

CBR: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

JJ: In my view, the meaning of International Women’s Day is as diverse as the groups and individuals celebrating it. It is a day that calls for action while reflecting on our past struggles and achievements.International Women’s Day


CBR: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

JJ: Equality, but until we are there – I’d settle for accessibility. I once attended a panel where a woman engineer recommended that “you must throw your hat over the fence, because once it’s on the other side, you’ll have to climb over the fence to get it.”  Her point being, that sometimes you need to create the circumstances to be bold.


CBR: How can kick-start change for women in tech?

JJ: Young women need strong female role models to look up to in the tech industry. Coding Cognitive, a series of cognitive computing study groups IBM and Ace Hotel are hosting – as well as similar events, present an opportunity for women seeking these kind of relationships to find inspiration in the industry.


CBR: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

JJ: Silicon Valley, the tech industry, and business as a whole have a reputation for their lack of diversity and inclusion, but both are absolutely critical to encouraging creativity and the constant search for new ideas among team members. IBM has a long-standing commitment to both inclusion and diversity and our Coding Cognitive events provide developers across the U.S. and world with cognitive skills to enable women in the workplace. After the Coding Cognitive event in New York City, we had a woman who let us know how meaningful the event was for her via Twitter. Not only was she excited to build a chatbot with Watson, but she was excited to be doing it while surrounded by women of color who are engineers, programmers, and developers, similar to her. In the end, diversity is not just about social justice; it’s about good business, as science has already proven that diversity leads to be better business outcomes.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?      

JJ: Get involved in your local community; there are opportunities out there for everyone.  Look for great mentors but remember to be a mentor yourself.


IWD is a time for commitments to be renewed, according to Jive CEO Elisa Steele

Women in Tech: Elisa Steele, CEO Jive Software

EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

ES: It’s a time for renewal of those commitments we’ve made to change things for the better. In particular, it’s a time to reflect on how things have evolved for women in the workplace, and how I can reset my own focus to help drive faster progress!


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?JIve CEO International Women's Day

ES: Opportunity continues to be an obstacle. Women need more opportunities to be exposed to more options, more choices, more chances. We should all work diligently to provide examples, stories and paths for young women to learn and know that they have huge potential in this world. We need them to feel empowered and motivated to achieve their dreams—whatever they may be.


EB: How can we kick-start change for women in tech?

ES: I wish we could kick-start change for women in tech and get significant, short term impact immediately. But…it’s a journey to make a difference at scale, and there many angles to the issue. One of those angles is that we need more diversity in in the boardroom. Leadership drives and inspires change to happen—and we need more CEOs, both men and women, to create opportunities and demand women at all levels of the workplace. As a female CEO in Silicon Valley, I would like to think my industry is ahead of the curve in tackling this challenge—more progressive in nature because of the innovation and technology that surrounds us—but it’s just not the case. More needs to be done, and I like to focus on what I can do personally to help influence change. Let today be the day you open an new door for a working woman in your world! We must also fix the very real gender pay inequalities that still exist. This is why I support HeForShe—UN Women’s global movement to eliminate the pay gap and promote gender equality around the world.


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

ES: Great companies embrace diverse workstyles and employees because they understand that a wider range of perspective and expertise can lead to higher levels of performance. At the same time, the free agent workforce is flourishing, making workstyle freedom, culture and engagement all crucial competitive differentiators in the battle for businesses to attract and retain great people. People want to be able to incorporate their personal workstyles to optimize performance and engage in an open, transparent company culture. Of course, technology is more important than ever when it comes to enabling people, teams and organizations to work better together and generate strong, sustaining business results.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

ES: I’ll share the three things I think are important to keep in mind. First, Be Passionate: Don’t try to have a career in an industry you don’t care about. It just won’t work. Next, Listen: Learn from those around you as you develop your own perspective and beliefs. Focus on being authentic—you’ll never know everything. Third, Be Prepared: It’s critical to do your homework. Be the person in the room who is ready; it won’t go unnoticed!


Nicola Downing, Ricoh Europe CFO, wants senior execs to take responsibility on IWD

Women in Tech: Nicola Downing, CFO of Ricoh Europe

EB: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

ND: For me, International Women’s day should be a celebration of the achievements of women, but also a call to action, pushing for further gender equality. I hope that sharing the experiences and knowledge of senior women in technology on International Women’s Day can inspire generations of future leaders at all levels of the business to challenge inequality and pursue their own success.


EB: This year the slogan is #BeBoldForChange – what would you like to see change for women in tech?

ND: I would love to see more senior executives proudly taking responsibility for gender equality within their business. Meaningful change within business always requires a leader to drive it through. These leaders, male or female, should of course also be supported by people across all levels of the organisation to show the business is truly committed to identifying inequality and making real changes.


EB: How can we kick-start change for women in tech?

ND: This is definitely an ongoing process, but technology companies in particular should try and foster workplace environments where employees of all backgrounds can achieve their best. Part of solving any problem is recognising it and companies shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge when more work needs to be done. At Ricoh, for example, we are pleased to have the policies and technology in place to allow women (and men) to work flexibly where necessary.  This is just a small step, but too often companies can pay lip service to gender equality without putting the necessary processes in place to make real change. Identifying and promoting great work, regardless of who produces it, is a great place to start.


EB: Why is a more inclusive and diverse world and workplace so important?

ND: I firmly believe that a diverse workforce drives innovation within a business, as different life experiences provide varied perspectives on problems. These different points of view can inform new and creative ways of working, which is crucial for long-term business success. This approach also better meets the varied needs of clients. All of this adds up to a compelling economic argument for diversity and equality in the workplace. Unfortunately, the problem still persists. According to the National Centre for Women & Information Technology only a quarter of all tech roles are filled by women. More needs to be done to rectify this disparity.


EB: What’s your advice or message for women on International Women’s day?

ND: I would give the same advice to women and men alike: be brave and embrace new opportunities when they are presented to you, or seek them out if they don’t appear.  You won’t always know all the answers and you won’t always get things right, but you can learn a lot through asking the right questions and finding solutions to problems.  Find a company where the culture and teams allow you to develop and try new things in a supportive environment and, above all, remain true to yourself and speak up to voice your own opinions.

Topics in this article : ,
Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.