Simon Hill FEATURED

HeForShe: Simon Hill | Founder & CEO, Wazoku

Simon Hill WazokuSimon Hill is CEO and founder at idea management firm, Wazoku, which works with organisations such as Waitrose, Ministry of Defence, HSBC and others, helping them unlock the ideas and innovation within the organisation.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I support it because it’s needed, but it shouldn’t be. Yes, I have a daughter and hope that she grows into a world where this isn’t even a topic. Yes, I have witnessed (and know implicitly) the value of diversity in the workplace. But this is only a topic we need to highlight, because despite endless good words, our actions are still not delivering true diversity. Any business wanting to succeed needs to get past this line of questioning and start just embracing diversity across every aspect of its business. Less talk. More action.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

It just is. And I would seriously question anyone that didn’t think it's important.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

In general I am really not sure, but my personal experience is that this is an open conversation and it’s up to men to be in the conversation, but also to get beyond ‘talking’ into ‘doing’. Too many empty words, too little actual change. Everyone, regardless of gender, needs to stand up for equality and fairness, to speak up when we do not live up to the standards we should, but to also recognise when we do, because it isn’t all bad.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

I think we are currently part of a change in attitude and mindset that means these labels are necessary, but in general I don’t think that anyone really finds them to be overly satisfactory. It’s not so much about whether this makes it feel like a problem that men don’t need to deal with, and more that we have had to set things up to start the movement and highlight the very real challenges that women face in many different aspects of the workplace and wider community.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Be prepared to have the conversation openly and act on their words. It’s easy to say all the right things in your value statements and career literature. But actually acting on them and being a fair, ethical and equal employer in all areas, is another thing entirely. We also need to ensure that a fair and open conversation can be had on all sides and not stigmatise opinions. There is more education to be done here, but that only comes with bringing the topic and the real issues to the fore.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I work very closely with a number of women. Half of my management team are women and I am working closely with them to give them all the career support and guidance they all need, individually.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

This is a complex question and I wouldn’t want to generalise. There are things that we have a tendency to label as behaviour that is more ‘female or male’, when it is actually much more contextual. What I would say is that the women I find it easiest to work with tend to be hard working, tenacious and smart. Where I find they can sometimes need support is in how and when to speak up and push for the things they deserve. This is a two-way thing though and should come from an implicit trust on all sides. As organisations we have broken that trust and it can only be properly rebuilt by action.


Marc Woodhead featured

HeForShe: Marc Woodhead | CEO & Founder, Holograph

Marc Woodhead

Marc Woodhead is founder and CEO of cutting-edge software development business Holograph.

With 25 years’ experience in graphic design, computer system design, human-computer interaction and psychology, he is recognised as one of the UK’s most inventive creatives.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I am blessed with two daughters; I am also lucky to have three women running my business. Operations Director, Finance Director and Platform Producer.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

To provide a balanced and normalised environment for everyone.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I don’t feel most men feel comfortable in the conversation, which is creating something of an imbalance in my opinion. There appears to be what amounts to a fear/anxiety being generated for the revised generation of men, by the appropriate response by women, after the actions and previous hundreds of years of misogyny and abuse by men in power.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Interesting, in a sense, I don’t feel men should be ‘helping’, I think they should be ‘not focussing’ on any concept of gender in making their decisions.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I’m not sure I have the experience to comment on this as I have been lucky enough not to directly experience the kind of business that might make gender biased decisions. I suspect that a forum within which everyone is welcome to openly discuss things, including nurtured feelings of bias on both sides, may be a big ask!

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes, I am developing my Operations Director, supporting my Finance Director and working closely with both the aforementioned to bring our Platform Producer to Director level. I am also working closely with both our senior designers (one man and one woman) to impart my background experience and ideas in developing our brand, design culture, and managing our close working relationship with our clients.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

In my experience I have found the women on my team to be strong minded and focussed on success, driving change and defining their own futures within our business.


George Brasher

HeForShe: George Brasher | Managing Director, HP UK & Ireland

George BrasherAs Managing Director UK&I, George is responsible for all consumer and commercial printers and PCs, mobile devices, workstations, thin clients, services, solutions and go-to-market activities, for the UK and Ireland. 

Brasher has more than 25 years of experience working at HP in a variety of roles. Immediately prior to his relocation to the UK, he was Vice President & General Manager of the WW Laser Printer business and LES Marketing & Strategy based in California.  Prior to that, he held a variety of leadership roles within HP spanning multiple regions and functions including  Vice President and General Manager of the US Printing and Supplies Category, responsible for the product portfolios and go-to-market strategies for Inkjet and LaserJet Printers and Supplies across both commercial and consumer business segments in the US.

Brasher also served as Vice President of LaserJet Supplies in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, responsible for managing the portfolio profit and loss, category strategy, business development and channel management in the region.  Prior to that, he held leadership roles in the Americas region, including vice president of the LaserJet Supplies and Transactional LaserJet Printer Category and vice president of the Inkjet Supplies Category business.

Brasher began his career with HP in 1990 as a financial analyst and, in addition to Category roles, has also served as sales manager for the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Sales Team in the US Consumer Business.

Brasher holds a Bachelor’s degree in business from Baylor University and Master’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I’m a firm believer that the more points of view a business can draw on, the better its products and the company as a whole will be.

Currently, women comprise only 17 per cent of the UK tech workforce. Over one hundred years on from women gaining the vote in Britain, the shortfall of women in the UK tech workforce is unacceptable, and we have to work together as an industry, to attract and retain more women.

What’s more given the rapid growth in the sector, striving towards gender parity and bridging the country’s digital skills gaps can help fuel business and economic growth, and securing Britain’s place as global leader in digital innovation.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I’m passionate about encouraging everyone to embrace gender equality in the workplace – and by extension, in all other areas of life. HP has the most diverse Board of Directors in Silicon Valley, and almost a third of our executives (director and above) are women.

However, we still struggle with a gender imbalance and addressing the under-representation of women is a priority for HP and me personally.

Here in the UK , we’ve recently made commitments to addressing this imbalance including: ensuring women account for at least 50 per cent of our intern intake; introducing a ‘Returners Programme’ to encourage women to re-enter the workforce after time away; and investing in unconscious bias training. We’re also a proud signatory of the Tech Talent Charter, and have recently redoubled our commitment by becoming a board member.

But there’s still a long way to go! And to get there, we need everyone on side.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Speaking from my own experience as a man involved in the gender equality conversation, I feel not only welcome but inspired to involve others too.

I recently hosted a roundtable discussion on the barriers women face to joining the UK tech industry, and how together we can attract more women into the industry at every level. It was held in partnership with The Fawcett Society and Tech Talent Charter and brought together policymakers, business figures and, most importantly, young women.

For me personally, it was a proud moment to be able to share HP’s platform. All leaders, regardless of gender, have a responsibility to champion this cause and amplify the voices of the under-represented, who may otherwise go unheard.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Groups and networks defined in gendered terms provide a safe space for women to be included. As women are an under-represented demographic – specifically in the UK tech workforce – I support this, even if it does deter some men.

Looking at the bigger picture, though, the language we use to talk about this issue has changed. Now, we talk about ‘gender equality’ rather than ‘women’s rights’ – this reflects the fact that it’s not an issue that’s isolated to one gender, as it impacts everyone.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Leadership must keep gender equality elevated on the boardroom agenda. HP and all tech businesses have to remain accountable, continually setting ourselves goals and measurable targets to address the dire gender imbalance within UK tech. What gets measured, gets done.

For businesses, there’s both a moral imperative and a fundamental commercial imperative to address this issue. By incorporating action on gender equality into the day-to-day operations of a business (e.g. in hiring and buying policies) men will be automatically be involved.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I firmly believe in the benefits of mentoring, through both formal and informal arrangements. We need to elevate rising stars, building and broadening their skills to support them in realising their potential to be leaders of tomorrow. This is particularly important among under-represented groups – including women. Personally, I have many mentees.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

Mentoring shouldn’t be isolated to the business context. Early intervention is essential for encouraging girls to study STEM, preparing them for the jobs of the future and hopefully, building their confidence to pursue careers in the field.

According to new research commissioned by HP, one in five women who didn’t choose to study STEM said it was because they ‘didn’t know anything about it’. What’s more, 32 per cent of women who aren’t in technical roles said it was because they felt underqualified, This suggests negative associations with, or an initial lack of interest in, STEM start early and persist into adulthood.

The advantage of tech is that it is everywhere in our day-to-day lives. We can all be mentors, by empowering girls to interact with tech – and importantly, making sure they feel supported to choose to study STEM subjects.

Our research showed that when it comes to women’s career influences, family came out on top (46 per cent). There’s also an important role for parents and guardians to play here in communicating to children – particularly girls –  that these career paths are open to them.


Rob Mukherjee featured

HeForShe: Rob Mukherjee | Director of Transformation, EveryCloud Security

Rob Mukherjee

Rob is Director of Transformation at EveryCloud Security – a leading cloud and cybersecurity consultancy.

A passionate believer in a people-led future fuelled by technology, he also leads EveryCloud’s partnership with Workplace by Facebook, focused on giving every employee a voice regardless of role or location.

A regular public speaker on the subjects of Cybersecurity, The Future Of Work and Diversity & Inclusion, Rob is also a Judge for the UK Business Tech Awards and the Northern Power Women Awards - and is a Trustee on the board of GreaterSport, a Manchester-based charity passionate about changing lives through sport and physical activity.

Rob is a past winner of the Northern Power Women ‘Agent of Change’ Award and the Women In Sales (Europe) ‘Best Male Mentor’ Award – and is currently listed in the Financial Times HERoes Top 50 Male Champions Of Women In Business and the Financial Times EMpower Top 100 Ethnic Minority Executives lists.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

It makes me smile - the number of people who assume I must have a daughter and assume that’s why I support HeForShe, Northern Power Women and the like.  I don’t have a daughter, nor a sister.  My passion for gender equality was ignited when I was at college – and was asked by the captain of the women’s football team if I would be their coach.  What I learned about this group of women was that - unlike many men's teams - not one of them seemed to think they were the next Messi or Ronaldo.  They had a selfless camaraderie, a hunger and drive to be the best they could be - and an absolute and unconditional trust in me as their coach.  I became more emotionally attached to the fortunes of this women’s football team than any men’s team I have ever played for.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Most men know that gender inequality is wrong.  Most male leaders know that organisations perform better when they have greater gender diversity in the leadership pool.  But for me the “leadership” conversation goes far deeper – when you look at how different workplace culture is in today’s digital age.  For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, hierarchies are rapidly dissolving.  Not only does the digital workspace enable a flatter, looser and more open working style, it is also a response to changes in the people who make up today’s workforce – and their evolving expectations. “Command and control” leadership – traditionally a ‘masculine’ style - simply can’t cut it in the new world of work.  What’s needed is transformational, rather than transactional leadership, with a greater emphasis on softer skills such as empathy, consensus building, coaching and mentoring – traits traditionally seen as more “feminine”.  It would be crass to now claim the future of business depends on women alone – or to suggest that certain traits are exhibiting exclusively by men or exclusively by women – but there’s no doubt that for the good of the economy and society, for both men and women, we need a greater balance of female leadership than ever before.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

My experience is that it varies.  With some people – and in some arenas – I find men openly welcomed and encouraged to partake in the conversation.  I was delighted to be invited onto a discussion on Radio Manchester recently for International Women’s Day, where the host Stacey Copeland actively sought for a balance of men and women into the discussion.   On the other hand – I have also heard comments such as “Why is a man talking about that?  What’s it got to do with them?”

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Good question.  I’ve never really thought about this before – but possibly I guess, for some men.  That doesn’t necessarily mean those groups – with those names – shouldn’t exist though as it does generate a sense of belonging, commonality and community for those group members.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I’ll try to avoid getting on my soap box here – as I could go on for hours about this!  I will pick out two areas I feel strongly about though.

Firstly – all businesses need to take gender balance seriously all year round and embed it in their culture.  Whilst there was some fantastic activity on International Women’s Day  – there were a few elements that I found rather galling, where it appeared some businesses were using it as a PR stunt – trying to persuade external and internal audiences of their inclusive values, whereas under the bonnet the reality is rather different.

Secondly, with regards encouraging men, I’d like to see businesses recognising working fathers as just an important parent to a child as working mothers.  I have evangelised for years the importance of working parents taking time off to spend with their children.  However, society still raises an eyebrow when fathers decide they’d like to take time off with their children – whereas mothers taking time off is seen as the norm.  That kind of attitude will just go to cement that caveman concept of men being the ones who go out and earn a living and women being the ones who stay at home.  I think that’s a debate that many men could relate to – and is one way of welcoming them into the gender debate.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Absolutely – and the year before last I was honoured to receive the European Women In Sales “Male Mentor Of The Year” Award. I’m currently mentoring a lady who has recently been made redundant and is considering a change in career direction into the cybersecurity space – and I am soon to start some mentoring for a charity in Manchester called GreaterSport, where I am a trustee.  To be honest, as a mentor I find I get just as much value and enjoyment out of the relationship as the mentee.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

It’s certainly true that men are more likely to put their head above the parapet and bang at the door looking for a promotion – although I think the difference in this respect between men and women isn’t as stark as it used to be.  Slowly but surely, we are seeing more amazing women in senior leadership positions – and the more we shine a spotlight on those role models, the more confidence it gives women to go for those kinds of roles and the more confidence it will give men to support the campaign for gender balance.


Stephen Mercer featured

HeForShe: Stephen Mercer | Partner, Deloitte

Stephen Mercer

Stephen Mercer is a partner and leads Deloitte’s technology consulting practice.

Stephen advises clients on implementing technologies to support business change, increase business performance and improve governance. He is based in Manchester.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I am married to an Aerospace engineer who worked for 20 years in a male dominated environment and I saw first-hand how attitudes at the time impacted her both at work and sometimes at home. Whilst every industry and sector has moved on, in many cases considerably, my memories of her experiences still make me cringe.

In more recent years as the leader of Deloitte’s technology business I have an important ongoing responsibility for ensuring we promote and maintain a respectful and inclusive culture which allows everyone to flourish.

And yes, I do have a daughter who currently (despite my best promptings) refuses to code : (

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Ultimately, we’re all striving to develop leadership teams which reflect society. The technology sector and other industries which rely more heavily on STEM based students, have on ongoing challenge to attract the right numbers of women into the workplace and then support women through their careers into leadership positions. Positively, attitudes and practices have changed and are changing much more quickly now thanks to exciting communities and bodies such as WeAreTechWomen, Women Who Code, CodeFirst:Girls, STEMettes Everywoman and others. However, many leadership teams are still predominantly male. Therefore, expecting women to be the sole proponents of supporting and driving gender equality simply doesn’t work. Men need to play a prominent role too. I do believe most male leaders also want to see change and are committed to making it happen.

At Deloitte my Technology leadership team have performance goals which relate to our firm-wide gender diversity aims. All leadership team members also mentor women in their teams, particularly at the manager and senior manager grades where we still see the greatest attrition.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

We are talking about gender balance and equality and you can’t achieve this or expect it to be solved by only engaging 50 per cent of the population.  In my own experience, I do believe that how welcome men feel in the conversation can range quite significantly. I’ve been to many events where I felt hugely welcomed and it’s enabled me to develop really importance insights, for example on topics such as unconscious bias, by listening to the experiences of women in the workplace. I still go to the odd event where being one of the few pale (but hopefully not too) stale, males in the room where it can be a little uncomfortable. However it’s inevitable as society goes through this important transition that there is a lot of pent up ambition, emotion, and occasionally even anger. Men and women are passionate about making change rapidly so I’m ok with this, it just demonstrates that it’s important.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

It’s an interesting question. I think great awareness and progress has been driven through grass roots initiatives and organisations and networks which are gender based. And I think there will continue to be a need for these groups to exist for a little while yet. I believe they have greatly shifted the dial and been instrumental in increasing the number of girls and women choosing technology as a career.

They have also helped men to understand the need for dedicated communities focussing on this important issue that there is a problem that needs solving and its scale. I don’t think they make men think that gender equality isn’t their problem but sometimes may feel they can’t join the network or community or contribute to its success because they aren’t of that gender. This means they sometimes aren’t sure how best they can help.

What has been helpful for us at Deloitte is also focusing on respect and inclusion and creating an environment and culture that works for all. This means that everyone is part of and responsible for creating and driving change that benefits everyone.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think a lot of it is around education. When I first took on my current role, I felt a little nervous about saying the wrong thing. There are so many different perspectives for example on whether targets are a good thing or not (I strongly believe they are and back this up by the difference they have made to improving gender diversity in my own business), that you can spend too much time worrying about upsetting a community and not getting on and dealing with the issues.

I’m fortunate to be supported by a great Respect and Inclusion team including Shilpa Shah who also leads our Women in Tech Network and Programme which now has over a 1000 members. She took me on a roadshow of women in tech meetings and events which educated me on the nature of the problems we’re facing in the industry and this helped me find my own voice and purpose. This enables me to speak much more authentically than I would have otherwise done.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes we have a formal mentoring programme and all of my leadership team provide mentoring, but really most of the partners in Deloitte now do this on an informal basis. As I mentioned earlier my main objective is to reach down into the manager and senior manager grades in our structure where we still see too many women leave the industry.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I don’t want to generalise or stereotype but there is a tendency for women to want to be 100 per cent ‘ready’ before they consider putting themselves forward for role. This is clearly a key point in a consulting business where new roles on different client engagements open up daily. However the thing which I notice most frequently when mentoring women is how they react to my questions:

1) what would you like to be doing in two-three year’s time?

2) how will you get there?

3) who can support you achieving this?

In my experience men typically have much greater clarity on the third point. Meaning they’ve thought about who their stakeholders are and how they will find a way to interact and if necessary influence these people. Clearly there a huge number of things which go around this, including the fact work socials have frequently been developed by men for men and funnily enough more men got to know more men…however there are many practical ways you can meet, support, and work with your stakeholders in a way which can help your goals. This is one area I encourage all my mentees to develop their thinking.


Andy-Maguire-featured

HeForShe: Andy Maguire | Group Managing Director & Group Chief Operating Officer, HSBC

Andy MaguireAndy Maguire is HSBC’s Group Chief Operating Officer leading operations, technology and corporate services for the bank.  Andy also leads HSBC’s chief operating officers who are responsible for the effectiveness and efficiency of the bank’s operations.

Andy began his career with Lloyd’s Bank, where he worked in retail, corporate and private banking. He then worked for 20 years as a consultant specialising in large transformation programmes in Europe, the Americas and Asia, latterly with Boston Consulting Group. At BCG, he was the head of the Banking and Customer Services practice, managing partner of the UK and Ireland, a member of the firm’s global executive committee, and from 2010-14 he led BCG’s relationship with HSBC.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

Doh! It’s the boys (men) who need to change/be changed :-))…plus a much smarter, more successful wife and two punchy daughters…oh and it’s half the world – we need to.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

If men don’t change then things won’t change…or at least very slowly.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Perfectly welcome but often trepidatious…afraid of saying the wrong thing/using wrong language.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Tough…men have/have had networks for years, decades…ever, so it’s just a minor re-balance.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Create ‘safe place’ to have conversations – it’s not (supposed to be) a test.  Take pressure off saying right/wrong thing.  Simple prompts…”think about your sister/daughters” etc.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes – currently eight of my 12 mentees.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

Women are more self-aware/realistic i.e. focus on what they aren’t perfect on/at versus their strengths – as a result, less qualified/capable men apply/think they can do a given job.  Typically, in my experience, women are perfectly able to identify/target senior roles.


Derek-Lin-featured

HeForShe: Derek Lin | Chief Data Scientist, Exabeam

 

Derek Lin

Derek is a seasoned data scientist passionate in the art of building data-driven defence against cyber threats and fraud.

Derek holds numerous patents and peer-reviewed publications. He is currently the Chief Data Scientist at Exabeam, building out the data science capacity to Security Information and Event Management (SIEM). Prior to Exabeam, he was the Head of Security Data Science at Pivotal Software, leading consultation projects in data analytics for enterprise security and IT operations. He has also worked at RSA Security, architecting online banking fraud detection.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

Any initiative that strives to create a level playing field, regardless of the game, should be encouraged. I have two young daughters and I see absolutely no reason why the choices they will make and the opportunities that will be open to them will be different because of their gender. Whether that’s in the classroom, on the sports team or in the workplace, I expect them to have the same opportunities as anyone else.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

The question is why not support gender equality in the workplace? There’s a reason why companies spend millions of dollars workplace diversity programmes. It’s been well reported that conforming thinking is not healthy for a company, or the teams within it. There have been numerous studies that show having more women in the workplace actually makes an organisation a better place to work. Ultimately a successful organisation needs diverse opinions and ideas – and women do add different, and valuable, perspectives on problems.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Thanks to the continuing public education effort from promotion groups, organisations, and movements, I think men are in general more perceptive to gender equality conversation.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

If groups/networks using these words make men feel like gender equality isn’t their problem, it’s all the reason we should support such groups/networks. I'm looking forward to the day when there are no reasons for groups to highlight women in particular, but until then we must continue to promote awareness of gender equality.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

There are many things businesses can do to help men feel relevant, and comfortable, in these conversations. I think awareness and education are at the heart of it. One simple, but effective, idea is to tap into the large number of very successful female executives out there, and have them comes speak to your team to share ideas.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I am proud to say that the data science team in Exabeam that I am guiding is gender balanced, at 50-50% women to men.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

No, personally I haven’t. I have come across women from multiple different backgrounds with varying life experiences. Individual women do differ in their attitude to the workplace, but no more or less than men. To me each individual is unique when it comes to mentorship, regardless of gender, and take different paths to progress their growth in their organisation.


Stewart-Carmichael-featured

HeForShe: Stewart Carmichael | Chief Technology Officer, Schroders

Stewart CarmichaelStewart Carmichael, Chief Technology Officer at Schroders, has more than 25 years’ experience in the investment management and banking industry.

Since joining the Group Management Committee at Schroders, Stewart has placed a focus on transformation and innovation. Before joining Schroders Stewart was CTO for JP Morgan Corporate & Investment Bank in Asia, and held various senior leadership positions during 16 years at Merrill Lynch.

Stewart has lived in New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. He’s currently based in London.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I’ve certainly witnessed the advantages of a diverse workforce of all kinds in my career. Having worked extensively in the UK, US, and Asia, I’ve seen how diversity in different contexts leads to a greater diversity of thought – and that is always a positive thing in any business. My mother was my role model in choosing a career in IT. She worked in the IT industry from the 70s to the 90s at companies such as ICL and Marconi leading large scale projects.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

It’s important for all leaders to support gender equality, but given the disproportionate number of men in the IT industry we must actively support gender equality especially. As men in positions of influence we need to recognise the overall benefit to our industry that gender equality brings.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I’ve always felt that as a man, I’ve been welcomed into the gender equality conversation. Personally, I feel that being part of the dialogue helps me better understand the challenges that need to be overcome.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

No. Until we have more of a gender balance at all levels, these groups or networks will help women to access peer support. In my experience, they don’t prevent men from actively engaging in the dialogue. On the whole they help men to be aware of the issues and understand their role in addressing the challenges.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Businesses can explicitly invite men to join the gender debate as peers and supporters. Men in senior positions also have a role in leading the way through visible support and participation. I’m sure many men would be proud to support daughters, sisters or other female family members, given the opportunity.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I believe in the concept of ‘manager as a coach’ and the agile practices that lead to the ‘servant leader’. Both of these approaches emphasise coaching and mentoring. I have previously had both formal and informal mentoring relationships with women and continue to give advice to past employees.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I would say that academic studies have shown this to be the case, but I would also say from experience that I’ve seen women often approach problems in different ways to many men. Businesses benefit from different approaches to problem-solving, which is one reason why we should seek a more diverse workforce.


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HeForShe: Steve Wainwright | Managing Director, Skillsoft

Steve Wainwright

Steve Wainwright is the Managing Director, EMEA at the eLearning company, Skillsoft.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

I have two daughters and previously worked in California which is extremely diverse in race, religion, sexual orientation etc. These experiences have helped show me how diverse teams, in terms of gender and ethnicity, are beneficial in all walks of life, including the workplace. It mirrors society today and is important to me.

I support the HeForShe campaign because bias – conscious or unconscious – exists in many organisations still today. It is a contributing factor to why there are fewer women in leadership or board level positions, and why the gender pay gap is as wide as it is. My personal and professional goal is to help eliminate this by making training tools available, so that we can play a part in establishing a workplace where everyone is afforded the same financial and leadership opportunities — regardless of gender.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

As with all areas in life, the more voices that are raised, the more likely action will be taken. It’s an issue of equality and it’s important that people in a position of responsibility show leadership on this topic.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

That’s exactly what it is – a conversation in equality. That means everyone is welcome and should all be encouraged to take part in it.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

If we achieved equality there would be no need to set these organisations up. That’s why I believe it is so important to foster a culture of support and inclusion for people of all genders.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

In my opinion, it is all about greater understanding and better training. At Skillsoft we are lucky to have a ‘top-down’ approach that filters from the CEO and management team right down the organisation. It means that we are all encouraged to get involved in the gender debate, as it is part of our company’s culture.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Throughout my career I have mentored men and women alike, and continue to do so, both inside and outside my organisation.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

Traditionally, yes, women are more likely to settle. For instance, often when men are offered a job there will be a back and forth on pay, holiday and other benefits. Women tend to simply accept offers, because of absurd notions about being too pushy and outspoken.

That’s one of the reasons why Skillsoft has taken the pledge for parity and provides dedicated eLearning resources to help women progress in their careers and to help employees recognise and stamp out gender bias.


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HeForShe: Bob Davis | CMO, Plutora

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Bob brings to Plutora more than 30 years of engineering, marketing and sales management experience with high technology organisations from emerging start-ups to global 500 corporations.

Before joining Plutora, Bob was the Chief Marketing Officer at Atlantis Computing, a provider of Software Defined and Hyper Converged solutions for enterprise customers. Bob has a proven track record using analysis-driven and measurable revenue-based marketing. He has propelled company growth at data storage and IT management companies including Kaseya (co-founder, acquired by Insight Venture Partners), Sentilla, CA, Netreon (acquired by CA), Novell and Intel.

Bob earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, and an MBA from Santa Clara University. He holds a patent in data networking.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

Not only do I have two daughters who have very successful careers, but I have also worked with lots of women throughout my working life in both marketing and engineering – I’ve found that some of the most incredible performers in terms of productivity and skill have been women. For me, the goal is to have an organisation filled with smart, creative, energetic and self-motivated individuals, regardless of their gender. It’s important for businesses to have a mix of different perspectives, and this is improved through a healthy mix of both men and women.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I’ve never understood the counter argument to this. Why wouldn’t men want gender equality? This has never been a big deal for me. For as long as I can remember, when we hire new staff, it is always the experience and level of the candidate that’s far more important, not their gender.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

There are definitely issues in the technology industry and the world in general, I hear it and read about it almost daily. Recently we’ve seen various campaigns and movements on social media, which raises the point that it’s about more than just equal pay. In my own experience, however, I’ve never been around men who I felt were of a different mind about gender equality than me, which is really positive and says a lot about the organisations I’ve worked for throughout my career.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

No, these terms have never bothered me; I don’t know why this is even an issue. Unfortunately there does seem to be a certain buzz around the notion of affirmative action, which has definitely been a big deal in the US in recent decades. There can be backlash and criticism to an extent, which is human nature, but on the whole it’s important to acknowledge the positivity of initiatives like this.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Differences in the workplace can be a really good thing – the capabilities of people don’t vary because of their gender, but because of who they are. These days, I see businesses trying harder to hire people who are more diverse, to help introduce a range of perspectives to their teams and this is vital for growth. I believe the goal for a business is to get people to understand that diversity is critical to their success – you will be far more successful if you operate under the notion that different is powerful.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes, to both!

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?  

If I were to evaluate the population of men and women that I’ve worked with, looking at who’s willing to put themselves out there, take risks, be bold and say what they mean – I’d say that the percentages of men and women are not all that different. Some of the women I’ve worked with are the most influential and powerful leaders I’ve known and are or have been successful both on a US and international stage.

You’ll generally find you get a softer, more thoughtful approach to an argument from women than you do from men. Women are also usually more effective at dealing with difficult personalities, which partly explains their ability to lead so well.