Carol Lee

Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed a tremendous amount of progress in the technology space, writes Carol Lee CFO at LogicMonitor. The pace of change is something that I love about the tech industry – its fast-paced nature means that no two years are the same.

I am constantly learning and evolving in my current role as CFO to keep pace with new developments. We’re working at the cutting edge of societal change in what some are calling the fifth industrial revolution, and I feel proud to be able to work in an industry that has a tangible, meaningful impact on the world.

Not only have I witnessed technological innovation, I’ve witnessed change when it comes to diversity in the workplace, too. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a topic I’m passionate about and while progress has been made to create equal opportunities within the tech industry, there is still a lot of work to be done to inspire the next generation of female leaders.

Levelling out leadership

Despite the proven benefits of gender diversity across all levels, not just leadership – there is a conspicuous deficit of women in C-suite roles compared to their male counterparts. A 2022 study by Equileap found that the global average for large companies with a female CFO was only 13%, with this figure dropping to just 5% for the CEO position. Getting more women in leadership roles is an uphill battle. It means rewriting the status quo, and it takes proactive, dedicated effort. The good news is that the data overwhelmingly suggests that, from a healthier balance sheet to a more values-forward brand presence, those efforts will be rewarded.

A study of more than 13,000 organisations in 70 countries found that a majority of companies that tracked gender diversity saw profit increases of 5 to 20%. Those organisations also found it easier to attract talent, and reported improvements in creativity, innovation, and openness. From greater openness to change to emphasis on research and development (R&D), a study by Harvard Business Review made one fundamental conclusion: appointing more women in leadership positions changes how organisations think.

To effect true change and implement a diverse workforce, tech companies need to lead by example. At LogicMonitor, we are proud to have dedicated communities for women and other marginalised groups within the company, to foster a supportive and inclusive working environment where everyone’s opinion is heard. We also run a scholarship program in the US for outstanding women in STEM, which aims to increase the percentage of women working in the science and engineering workforce by sponsoring deserving college students.

Paving the way for the next generation

Despite the progress we’ve made, there’s plenty more that the industry can be doing to pave the way for the next generation of female leaders. Establishing clear communication channels is central to accelerating change, therefore tech businesses should be proactively creating forums and safe spaces for women to voice their ideas.

While it’s important to provide the opportunity to advance technical expertise, it’s equally important that organisations continue to develop other skills such as business acumen, the ability to influence and coach. Mentorship programmes are invaluable for both the mentor and mentee, offering a fresh perspective that can help women navigate career challenges outside of their day to day.

Forums and mentorship programmes help lay the foundations for women to hone not only their technical expertise, but also their business acumen and ability to raise each other up. Taking a considered, holistic approach to nurturing female talent will create well-rounded individuals with the potential to become the next wave of leaders in the tech industry.

Spearheading the digital transformation

The digital revolution is well underway and from a talent perspective, we need more women in leadership positions to ensure that we’re considering transformation from a holistic standpoint. From a technological perspective, we should view a business’ tech stack in the same way we view the foundations for a building’s architecture – without robust support from its IT systems, operations will crumble and revenue will suffer.

For CFOs, investment into technology infrastructure to support the business should be a primary concern. The modern CFO is no longer simply a budget holder – they are responsible for ensuring the growth of the company, so they should play a central part in decision making around its tech stack. This is where the CFO can truly drive transformation, and communication is key.

For a digital strategy to be successful, the entire leadership team must be in alignment, which requires open conversation on what ‘digital’ means to each particular leader, and what it means for their organisation. A clear definition should then be agreed upon, before it can be articulated in a way that the entire business can rally around.

With an increasingly difficult set of challenges facing tech companies in 2023, driving an effective digital strategy must be top of the agenda for any CFO. Economic volatility, supply chain disruption and talent shortages have put the industry under significant pressure since the pandemic, and it is the businesses that invest in more efficient and effective technology that will thrive, where others fall. Today’s CFO must be prepared to plan, fund and steer the business in the right direction, while driving financial performance in the face of these challenges, all while earning trust from stakeholders and ensuring security and compliance risks are minimised. This of course is no easy task, but one that must be overcome to ensure their business flourishes in these testing times.