Lotus SmitsI’m the Global Head of Diversity and Experience at Glovo, one of the world’s leading multicategory, on-demand delivery platforms.

In this role I get to combine my personal values like fairness and respect, alongside my skills to engage people, build impactful programs and drive organisational change.

My biggest focus at this moment is working with the leaders at Glovo to increase their knowledge and awareness on the topic of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DI&B) and to explore how as a company we can be leading the charge with a culture of inclusivity and equality at its core.

I was born in Amsterdam, one of the most liberal cities in the world that celebrates the uniqueness of all its inhabitants and it’s proud of its diversity. I wish more places were like that.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

For me, it wasn’t about sitting down and planning my career step by step, but rather being proactive in expressing my ambitions to the people around me, so they could help me grow and involve me in the right opportunities. If you’re not clear to others about your ambitions and the direction you want to go in, how are they meant to know? Only you can be your biggest champion.

When I graduated from school I went on to study psychology because of my curiosity for human behavior. At that time I wasn’t aware roles in DI&B existed but I always wanted to work in a role that helped people reach their full potential, and ensure the organisation I worked for helped them get there.

Some important milestones, like the topic of my Master’s thesis and my graduation internship at Vodafone HQ in London, slowly moved me into the DI&B sector. After leaving Vodafone I joined Booking.com HQ as a Learning & Talent Advisor. From the outset I made it clear I wanted to be a part of the journey when Booking.com started building a DI&B team. One year later this happened and I helped Booking.com to build the DI&B team from scratch – a catalyst for my career.

Reflecting on the last five years, the most important lesson for me has been to proactively try and explore new opportunities that come your way. Approach anything new with an open, curious mind and figure out interests and strengths along the way.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Most of us can be our own biggest enemy, myself included. When I am really hard on myself, I always wonder: would I say this to my best friends when giving them advice? Most often, probably not!

If I give space for my doubts and insecurities and let them take over, this will hold me back. To help tackle this, over the last few years, I’ve started a very conscious journey to train my mind. Every morning I meditate, reflect via journaling and listen to podcasts to overcome doubts and live with conviction.

It’s an ongoing process but I am definitely making progress in the right direction. By both taking challenges by the horns and learning to train your mind to be your biggest advocate cannot be underestimated.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Leaving my comfortable life behind in the Netherlands during the pandemic to take on my next challenge at Glovo! I enjoyed my previous job at Booking.com, had a lovely house and my friends and family were nearby. But life was quite predictable.

Rationally I said to myself it was better to stay in the Netherlands to see how the pandemic would evolve, but all my instincts said I should make the jump and join  Glovo’s HQ in Barcelona.

Reflecting back on the first few months of my relocation, was it always easy? No. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

Relocating to a new country, starting a new job with fresh faces has been such a tremendous learning experience. I would never have wanted to miss this. I’m excited for what’s next to come at Glovo and lead its exciting pipeline of diversity and inclusion initiatives in 2021 and beyond!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

I have learnt not to shy away from new challenges and opportunities. Research shows that most people don’t achieve what they want because they don’t take the initial jump for a fear of failing. Getting started, just with little steps, is half the job done.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Find people around you who see your value, potential and can support your growth. Where possible, always say yes if mentorship opportunities arise. Be proactive in asking your manager for projects that stretch you so you can both show your ambition and enhance your knowledge. Ultimately, work with people that empower you to do your best work.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Progress for gender equality in the workplace is under scrutiny like never before, which is great, yet the technology sector is lagging behind. With an average of 17% of women in technology, it continues to be a heavily male-dominated sector that in turn can put some women off pursuing a career in the space.

But the more women we champion and raise into senior positions, the more young women will see a greater level of role models and hopefully feel more inspired to pursue a career in STEM. This is a core focus for us at Glovo and we are actively recruiting some of the most talented female engineers to our global growing tech team.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Crucial is making DI&B the responsibility of every single person in the company. Everyone should approach their daily activity with an inclusion lens so they understand what they can do to play their part in driving a healthy, inclusive culture.

DI&B is sometimes seen as a tick-box exercise but if you want to do this well, every company must take a hard look at the roots of their company culture, systems and processes and ask themselves, what barriers could women at the organisation possibly be facing? Then do the utmost to remove those barriers to provide everyone with access to equal opportunity.

There is currently only 17 percent of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would make coding the coolest course in high-school for all genders,. It would be compulsory and everyone would want to get involved. The hope being that pupils would be jumping at the chance to involve themselves in such innovative courses and the teachers would be the motivating, encouraging role-models helping them to succeed.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

My recommendations are not only for women but for everyone. Changing the tech industry to become more diverse and inclusive is the responsibility of all of us. It is imperative to have a widespread understanding of the individual roles we each play in changing the dynamics of our current working environments.

My current top recommendations are:

Podcast: when women stopped coding

Documentary: CODE: Debugging the gender gap

Film: Hidden figures

Harvard Business Review: How men can become better allies for women

Event: WebSummit – aside from being one of the biggest tech events, it is also a brilliant opportunity to connect women in tech and focuses strongly on DI&B

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