Tim Dinsdale

HeForShe: Tim Dinsdale | CTO Europe, OpenFin

Tim DinsdaleTim is European CTO of OpenFin. Prior to joining in 2019, he was a Managing Director in the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs, where he worked for fifteen years.

Tim has worked in a variety of languages and environments in his career, from assembly on the PS2, to scripting financial payoffs, to the internals of custom languages written in C++.

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?

Several years ago, my wife returned to school for a medical degree, and I took on many of the household responsibilities that often fall to working mothers. It made me realize just how grueling and exhausting their experience can be. The women in our industry work just as hard as the men, yet they’re often the ones who shuttle the kids to school, shop for groceries and so on. That experience gave me a new perspective and made me passionate about the standing of women in the workplace.

I’ve also noticed the benefits that diversity can bring to the workplace. In my industry—engineering—there is often a lack of communication. Generally, the woman engineers I’ve worked with are better at communicating, multi-tasking and overall bridging complicated gaps. They bring a different perspective, and hearing more perspectives can only help a business.

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

There are myriad reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the right thing to do. But aside from the moral imperative, I see two major pragmatic reasons. First, if a company is not diligent about fostering gender equality, then the selection bias for promotions, raises and the like will favor the sort of people who are already in power. This is incredibly damaging, because talented employees who do not fit into this box will conclude there is no room for advancement and look elsewhere. The company will bleed staff. The second reason is that diversity aids decision-making processes. The more opinions there are in a room, the more likely a group is to uncover the right solution to a given problem. This may be a cliché, but I’ve seen it play out in the boardroom time and time again—a firm whose employees have identical life experiences is doing itself no favors.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Men have an important role to play in these conversations, but in my experience, they don’t always feel welcome. The key thing to remember is that there are constructive topics and solutions that everyone should be aware of. Everybody can talk about understanding unconscious biases; everybody can talk about the constraints different people are under when they enter a room to be interviewed, discuss a promotion, get a performance review, et cetera. Often when we talk about gender equality in the workplace, we’re talking about people’s decision-making processes and the logic behind them. Framed this way, it’s a lot easier for men to get involved, because they can clearly see their place in the discussion.

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?

These initiatives can represent something of a double-edged sword. At one of my former employers, a colleague was invited to an event for high-performing female associates. She appreciated the networking opportunity and enjoyed herself, but couldn’t help but feel that she should have been recognized as simply a high-performing associate without her gender attached. Some women feel that the very existence of these initiatives is proof that they are outsiders in their industry.

That said, at their best, these groups are about coaching and mentoring—exactly what people miss out on when they’re not part of the ruling clique, so to speak. They provide access and validation, and the roles that men can play on these issues is a popular topic of discussion. These groups cannot be all things to all people, but for those who are comfortable with them, there is often real value.

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

The first step is to create an environment in which everyone is happy—set ground rules and enforce them. Next, firms must examine their own hiring practices and make a concerted effort to be impartial in every way and at every level. It’s important to know exactly why you want to bring on a particular candidate and be able to articulate it, lest any unconscious biases take over. This encourages thinking about issues of diversity, which are often overlooked, and creates a meritocratic culture where employees expect and have an interest in hiring fairly. Again, looking at it from this angle, men feel more welcome to make their voices heard.

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

Yes, I have mentored a number of women in the past.

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 have noticed that, especially coming from a male-dominated industry. In these situations, it’s important to keep pushing. Women may be less likely to apply for a promotion just to “see what happens,” but if they don’t, there are men with the same qualifications who will. Don’t take their seeming reluctance as a lack of interest, but rather as an opportunity to validate. A mentor’s role is to help the mentee succeed, and to do this, men must strive to see things from a different perspective.