Article by Grace Mee – Vice President of Operations and Business Transformation

Galentine's Day, group of happy, diverse womenGalentine's Day, group of happy, diverse womenAs with any day dedicated to diversity, equality and inclusion, International Women’s Day is incredibly valuable. Of course, it’s a celebration of women and everything they do, but the day also creates space for discussion, thought generation and awareness.

The energy created by a moment like International Women’s Day is infectious and inspiring and should be felt across the whole year. I want all our coworkers to know the value of their voice, their perspectives, and their experiences to our success.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #ChooseToChallenge, resonates with me when I look back at my career so far. I learned early on that not speaking up only slowed me down and that not offering an opinion, only to silently disagree with the final decision being made – was counter-productive.

I made a conscious decision to challenge myself in making sure my voice was heard and I realised that – as often the only woman in a room of men – I almost always had a different perspective or angle that helped as we made business decisions.

Over time, I’ve settled on four key rules to guide my career and – as everyone who works with me knows – I’ll share them with anyone who will listen:

  • Failure is necessary
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • If you’ve got something to say, say it
  • Being different is an advantage

For me, these are great rules to live by for a career in tech, an industry that I’ve always found incredibly fulfilling to work in. With its rapid pace of change, there’s always a way to regenerate, innovate and move forward – and that keeps it exciting. At CDW UK, we know it’s our desire to continuously improve that sets us apart.

I think this spirit comes through below, where I’m proud to share a sample of our coworkers’ thoughts on what International Women’s Day and #ChooseToChallenge means to them. These responses make me feel truly inspired by our Community and excited by the possibilities of what we can achieve together.

Choose to Challenge

“#ChooseToChallenge means getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’m all too aware that when things feel slightly uneasy you can misplace those feelings with believing you’re taking the wrong path or approach. However, I can now look back and recognise those moments for what they were. I now choose to challenge myself in those moments and in so doing so, I’ve been able to elevate my thoughts to a higher level, go through development changes and grow in my beliefs.”

Jessica Whellams – Head of CDW Community

“Challenge and collaboration promote innovation and inclusivity. #ChooseToChallenge means not settling for ‘it’s always been that way.’ It’s standing up and showing up. It’s about developing courage. Seeing women succeed in business encourages and empowers girls and women to pursue their careers.”

Fay Dixon – L&D Business Partner

“I believe we excel when we leave our comfort zones and for that reason #ChooseToChallenge for me is about pushing yourself, adapting, learning and being ready for change.”

Iman Mohamed – Sales Administrator, Sales Operations

“There is a famous saying that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. I believe that change must come from within, and people in the tech sector need to speak up and take steps to make our industry more diverse and inclusive. Where inequality exists, it must be challenged.”

Susan Cotton – Head of Brand Marketing

“For me #ChooseToChallenge means ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.’”

Guy Smith – Head of Technology Solutions

Celebrate role models

“Girls in education need to be inspired to take STEM subjects. One way to do this is by showing them strong female role models in the industry so they can feel confident that a career in technology can be for them. CDW promotes mentorship programmes which I am lucky to have benefitted from by having an inspiring female leader who is supporting me to progress and develop in my role.”

Hayley Doyle – Customer Advocacy & Communications Manager

“More women in business and doing well creates a virtuous circle to promote even more diversity, providing role models and inspiration. From a purely personal perspective I’d love to see more role models for my daughters in both tech and finance. Everyone has a role to play in advocating diversity, this is an active choice we all make every day.”

Malcolm Pape – VP & UK CFO

Build supportive communities

Represent everyone

“In an industry that has been historically male-dominated, it is crucial that representation is reflective of the general population. This includes gender diversity, as well as cultural, racial, age, religious, ability, and orientation diversity – as an industry, we can achieve so much more if we are comprised of individuals from a variety of backgrounds.”

Flannery Devine Gibbons – Category Lead, Cloud

“Due to being considered a Generation Z baby, growing up I was always taught ‘You can be anything you want to be’. This was told to all regardless of gender, if you set your mind to something you can do it. I believe this is the best advice I was given as it always taught me to not look at anyone as any different to me, whether that be gender or ethnicity, if you put your mind to something you can achieve it and that applies to ALL.”

Lucy Ager – Internal Project Administrator

Grace MeeAbout the author

Grace is Vice President, Operations and Business Transformation UK & International and uses her 20 years’ experience to lead CDW’s supply and sales operations, professional and managed services, compliance, coworker services and community departments. Grace maintains a strong focus on client experience and business productivity, specialising in executive leadership strategy, business transformation, acquisition integration and people strategies.

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.  

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