female leader, women leading the way featured

Empower your female workforce and you’ll empower your future

female leader, women leading the way

Article by Sally-Anne Skinner, Chief Revenue Officer at Ogi

There was a unifiable hope that in 2021, women working together wouldn’t conjure up as much negativity as it does sometimes.

It would be wonderful to think that the concept of having a strong female workforce was no more extraordinary than that of having a male one, that having a female CEO was as normal as their male counterpart, yet even the briefest of searches on these topics has proven that this just isn’t the case, especially in the technology field.

The idea that women who work together must be rivals is trivial — there’s room for all of us (despite what statistics might indicate) and at Ogi, we have some of the best and brightest female minds working in fields they were told they would never be able to succeed in. Over time, they and all had to learn that the best way to feel empowered is to empower those around you. In this post, we will examine five ways you can empower your female workforce to be the best they could ever be.

Amplify the voices of your female workforce

One of the most important parts of professional development is making sure you have the confidence in what you do, however, for those who are constantly let down, pushed aside and undermined, this confidence can be quickly knocked down. Empowering our workforce, specifically our female workforce means we need to amplify the voices of those who may be silenced.

It’s so important to remember that this silencing isn’t always done out of malice, but sometimes out of unrecognised stigma. Deloitte’s Women in the Boardroom research stated that, in a board meeting of 100 people, only 15 of these will be women. In a room of 10 that means not even 2 would be women.

The conclusion here is that if you’re in a meeting where another woman is present, amplify each other - this can be as simple as backing one another’s opinions. Start a conversation where the two of you are the main participants, and allow both opinions to be heard, with respect, even if you’re on opposing sides of the conversation.

The simple act of speaking up isn’t enough, as a team it is our job to make sure voices are heard - you never know where, or who your next big idea will come from.

Support personal and professional development

The better connected your workforce the better they become within themselves. One of the most important things we can do to help empower our female workforce is to make sure we’re giving them the opportunities to connect with other people who can help them grow personally and professionally.

By making these introductions we can allow our workforce to build their own knowledge and resource pool, inspiring them, and hopefully those around them,  to then become a mentor for further members of the workforce later down the line.

What we want and need to avoid is the feeling of being undervalued, undermined and overlooked - and by supporting our workforce in ways THEY want and THEY need, we’re making sure their voices are heard, their development is valued and they as an individual are a key component of our business growth.

Close the pay gap

Ah yes, the one nugget of a conversation everyone wants to shy away from - we get it, talking about money is uncomfortable, but it’s also so important. Openness around salaries is integral to understanding the differences between pay, and finally being able to close the pay gap.

In industries where your salary is negotiable due to experience, etc. many people still do not feel confident enough to negotiate their wage, simply because they do not know their own worth. The easiest way to avoid this minefield is to allow open and honest conversations about salary, and that includes everyone.

Accept and embrace individuality and creativity

One of the most obvious things to be said is to make sure that there is an understanding that not every member of your workforce is the same. Almost all of us understand the nuances and gender bias’ and it’s our job as a collective to embrace the individuality of our employees.

Simply put: Do not expect your female workforce to adhere to stereotypical constructs of femininity and female employment. If her ambition is to get to the top, putting blockers in her way because “that’s not ladylike” will inevitably end up with her resignation. Allow your workforce to grow, in their way, with the help they need, and your workforce will thrive, regardless of their gender identity.

Food for thought

I think it’s always important to remember that the culture in which an employee grows will help mould them, both professionally and personally. If you have a culture in which everyone thrives, women and men alike, you will be moulding a strong and empowered workforce. But it’s important to take the steps needed to make sure your female workforce is on board.

As a final note, a TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) per say - empowering your female workforce is not as difficult as it seems, equal pay, equal opportunities and equal respect is all they’re asking for. Amplify their voices when they do something out of the box, making sure there are role models of every variety in your business will ALWAYS ensure your employees have someone to look up too.

Finally, it is important to establish these goals and recognise there will still be challenges ahead to face - it’s how you face them which will define you.

Sally-Anne SkinnerAbout the author

Sally-Anne is the Chief Revenue Officer at Ogi (previously Spectrum Internet) and has spent the last 23 years working in a variety of leadership roles in the residential telecoms sector, for brands including Sky, ntl, and Centrica.

Sally-Anne has extensive people management experience, having run large sales teams, and developed head office management structures to deliver against business KPIs.

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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Sally-Anne Skinner featured

Inspirational Woman: Sally-Anne Skinner | Chief Revenue Officer, Spectrum Internet

Sally-Anne Skinner

Sally-Anne Skinner is the Chief Revenue Officer at Spectrum Internet and has spent the last 23 years working in a variety of leadership roles in the residential telecoms sector, for brands including Sky, ntl, and Centrica. 

She has extensive people management experience, having run large sales teams, and developed head office management structures to deliver against business KPIs.

In her new role as Chief Revenue Officer at Spectrum, Sally-Anne will head up the sales teams across residential and business, driving the uptake of full fibre across South Wales.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role 

I graduated from University with a History degree and soon after this I came to the realisation that unless I wanted to teach there wasn’t a clear career path for me! I was living in London so I decided to temp and become an Office Angel. It was a great experience and I worked with lots of different businesses in administrative and operational roles. I then started working at C&W and this was my first experience of the Telecoms world – I loved it and have been working in Telecoms ever since for the likes of ntl, TalkTalk and Sky, with a brief foray into the design world while I was consulting for International Textile Designer, Tania Johnson.

My current role is hugely exciting. I have returned to Newport, my hometown, and have taken on the role of Chief Revenue Officer at Spectrum Internet. My team and I will be responsible for connecting homes and business across South Wales. I am thrilled to be on this journey with Spectrum, as we rollout full fibre broadband across the region.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not as such. I have been fortunate in my career to have a clear sense of direction. I know the roles, tasks and challenges that excite and interest me and so I tend to follow these opportunities as they come along.

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

My biggest challenge has been driving my career whilst also being true to my personal aspirations. I have always loved working but when I became a Mum I realised that I wanted a very active role in my children’s lives - who knew how active it was going to be!?

I made the difficult decision of stepping away from my full-time career and became a contractor, creating a more flexible working environment.

I promised myself that when the children were older I would look to get back into a full time business career and here I am! (Who said I don’t sit down and plan out my career?)

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Whilst at Sky, I was the Sales Director of Face to Face. During my time there my department delivered a third of Sky’s total consumer acquisition, a quarter of a million customers a year.

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

I am a big believer in Team – finding the best possible people, empowering them and then taking them with you as you collectively climb the corporate ladder.

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

Know your market. Don’t be afraid to be curious and ask questions. Get a mentor or a sponsor who can help you with the bigger picture. Understand the strategic direction, what part you play within that and what you can do to add to the vision.

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

There are barriers for women across many industries. I think tech is a male dominated industry and is perceived as such, trying to understand why there are barriers and what those barriers are is the first step in determining how to address the issue.

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

Supporting women through training and development is key. Also, coaching and mentoring schemes can be hugely successful and yield great results.

There is currently only 17% 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 think to drive awareness and ambition in tech it needs to start at the grass roots. Career advice offered in schools needs to make girls/young women feel empowered. Education needs to be inclusive, inspiring and gender neutral. Young women need to be exposed to other successful women in the industry: role models - senior female thought leaders in tech  - so they can see what is possible and aspire to emulate it.

I think recruitment needs to focus on attracting more women: offering on-the-job learning, coaching and developing. In addition, there are a large number of highly skilled women who have had career breaks, encouraging these women to come back and re-train in tech is a huge opportunity.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I listen to podcasts all the time. There are so many out there. I love listening and reading HBR articles and would recommend them.

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here