Article provided by Fernando Kufer, disguise

Becoming a male ally for women in the workplace does not have to be triggered by extreme events like misogynistic comments or biased hiring decisions.

Research shows that people do not need to wait for something severe to happen in order to be an effective ally.

The presence of a gender equality ally reduces anticipated feelings of isolation while simultaneously increasing support and respect. Through communicating that we care about gender equality and our commitment to acting as  allies  for our female colleagues, we aim to boost women’s feelings of inclusion in male-dominated spaces.

At disguise, our mission is to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for both our end customers, but also the people that make up our growing and diverse workforce.

We are a global visual storytelling technology company that, for the past 20 years, has been powering the world’s most spectacular live events – from concert tours to theatre shows and video installations. More recently, with the sudden halt in live events, our business focus has pivoted to extended reality and virtual production – where we are reinventing modern filmmaking, broadcasts and virtual events while laying the building blocks of the metaverse.

As we work towards lowering the barrier of entry to virtual production and making it easier for everyone to use our workflow to realise their creative vision, we share the same ethos in our people strategy. We strive to create an environment where everyone belongs and can do their best work every day.

Creating a space where women feel valued

When I became CEO of disguise six years ago, my aim was to not fall into the common tendency for tech companies to be male dominated in their workforce, leadership and way of thinking. I wanted to create possibilities through diversity and inclusion, because true progress can only be achieved with a healthy balance of perspectives and backgrounds.. I made sure to communicate these values clearly to the rest of my team and was incredibly fortunate to bring on board our Chief People Officer Lorna Bains who, in the past three years, has led the way in making disguise a nurturing and supportive workplace for women.

Due to the increasing global demand for our technology, our workforce has grown from a company of 55 at the start of 2018, to a total of 200 today. During this time, Lorna and her team were also able to attract more women to our growing team, especially into leadership roles, going from a 24% female workforce to 40% today, with women taking up two of our executive-level positions, six in senior management positions and three in regional management positions.

This year, Lorna’s team has also launched a suite of inclusion policies focusing on developing and supporting all individuals at disguise. These include policies supporting women with menopause and any employee who undergoes fertility treatment.

Our employees can also take up to 50 weeks’ Shared Parental Leave which enables both parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth or adoption.

Mentoring and building the next generation of women in tech

Being an ally also means mentoring young or emerging talent  exploring  their true potential. A number of our senior leaders are mentors to junior team members, challenging and championing them to step out of their comfort zone to build new skill sets or even explore cross-departmental working. Just one such example involves a young woman who joined us a year ago as an Inside Sales rep, who, as a result of mentoring and fast-track development within our commercial team, will now be moving to Australia to help set up our new Australia and New Zealand entity as a Regional Sales Manager.

Our Chief Commercial Officer, Tom Rockhill, has also partnered with Rise, an award-winning global advocacy membership organisation supporting gender diversity across the media technology sector, on external mentorship opportunities for aspiring young women in the sector. He even shared his experience and learnings in a webinar we co-hosted with Rise on International Women’s Day this year.

This year we also created internship opportunities for young people who wouldn’t have necessarily considered a career in tech, with a deliberate focus on appealing to women and those from the BAME community. These efforts have created a pipeline for future tech talent, while also supporting young people affected by poor employment prospects. This is the first iteration of internship programmes offered by disguise and forms a key part of our CSR plan by giving back to the community, whilst also helping build the future generation of tech talent.

Belonging is one of our core values at disguise. I am incredibly proud to have a number of inspiring leaders on my team that are committed to making everyone feel welcome here.