female leader, women leading the way featured

Women's leadership isn't about gender, but about leading as our most authentic selves

By Alix Tucker, Global Head of Sales, Strategy and Operations at Tanium

female leader, women leading the wayIn tech sales we need high-performing teams to meet our targets and thrive in challenging times. And without a doubt the highest performing teams have a common denominator: diversity.

We talk to Alix Tucker at Tanium about how she’s approached her leadership role and the lessons learnt along the way.

What does being a woman in leadership mean to you?

I believe when we can bring our whole selves to work and celebrate one another we can accomplish more together and have fun at the same time.  My leadership style leverages my ability to empathize with others, to be transparent, to support and empower my team, and to show strength and authenticity in who I am, a queer woman in a leadership role.

How has your organisation supported you in your personal and career journey?

Tanium has given me opportunities no other company has. Tanium has always believed I can achieve more than sometimes even I think I can - which is scary and exhilarating!  And after achieving great things, the leadership team at Tanium has given me the grace and permission to rest so that I can recharge and show up refreshed.

What can team members do to better support women at work?

Equal pay for equal work, which is something Tanium already is mindful of and is leading from the front on.  Allowing women to have a voice and to use it, sometimes asking someone's opinion can really go a long way.  Take a chance on your female employees the way you do on your male employees, I promise we will rise to the challenge even if we are scared!

What's the best advice you've ever received?

From the great Maya Angelou, "when you know better, do better".  I've made a lot of mistakes in my life and career, but the important thing for me is that I become better.  One of my core beliefs is that I believe people are inherently good and doing the best they can and when we make mistakes it's an opportunity to do better.

If you could share one message what would it be?

When we support all people, regardless of gender, race, or sexuality, everyone benefits.  This This life is not a zero-sum game, so let's be kind, generous, and supportive to one another.  Our time is shaped by the small moments we choose to reach out and help another person so let us commit to that today and every day.

Alix TuckerAbout the author

Alix Tucker is Head of Global Sales Strategy and Operations at Tanium, leading sales planning, go-to-market design, compensation design and operations. At her previous company, Salesforce, Alix led equality workshops and various speaking engagements on her experience as a queer woman in leadership. Through her experiences, Alix has shaped her style to have the courage to show up authentically, lead with kindness and empower those around her. Outside of work, Alix and her fiancé are building a home and organic farm in Nicaragua where they give back to the local community through sustainable projects.

 


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Data shows women leaders still scarce in the tech industry

The latest Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table revealed that only 11 of the 100 fastest growing companies in the UK are founded or led by women. We’ve crunched the numbers to see what that tells us about the opportunities for female leaders in the tech industry…

Analysing some 750 [1] tech, media and telecoms companies that have appeared in the Tech Track 100 rankings from the last 15 years, we looked at how many director roles are occupied by women.

We found that while there was an increase in the number of women in director roles, the average percentage of women in these roles remained under 10% over the same time.

women-leaders-in-the-tech-industry

Looking at the data, one thing is clear. The growth of women in senior roles in the tech industry is not significant enough. So why does this percentage remain so low?

A tough climb to the top

One theory for the lack of women in top tech roles is that they’re overlooked when promotional opportunities arrive. Per Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder and CEO for stemettes.org, an organisation that helps put girls in contact with women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries, the struggle to push past the 10% mark is down to a lack of promotions at more junior levels.

‘[The number of women in director roles] has remained stable as women aren’t being promoted and given positions of responsibility in line with the proportion of women at more junior levels in the industry. As well as this, the number of women entering the tech industry has been declining in recent years, ‘says Imafidon.

So if Imafidon is right, when faced with a seeming reticence within the industry to promote women, it could be that fewer women take on the tough climb up the corporate ladder or choose to enter the industry at all.

To tackle the problem, Imafidon believes that biases within recruitment must first be ironed out.

‘Tech companies need to make sure that they have the right processes for promotion and recruitment which mean that they don’t have bias. Having balanced promotion and interview panels, as well as employing the Rooney Rule – a concept from American football, where a panel interviews at least one minority candidate for senior roles – can help with this.’

women-leaders-in-the-tech-industry

A reduced talent pool

As we know, the average number of women within top roles in tech remains low. But, according to the data, this low average is the result of a rise and fall in the number of women directors across different sectors each year, rather than consistent under-employment in certain areas.

Without enough women rising through the ranks in each sector, the tech industry can’t sustain any growth it experiences.

Theresa McHenry, HR Director at Microsoft, puts the lack of sustained growth down to a reduced applicant pool.

‘There are challenges for the industry. The market for senior female talent is increasingly competitive and companies are recruiting from a smaller subset of technical female talent.’

Per McHenry, only long term investment in female talent will have any transformative effect on its presence in top industry roles.

‘It needs sustained effort and investment, you can’t take a one-off approach to hiring or promoting women into senior roles. Companies won’t sustain senior female representation unless they invest in building a pipeline of talent for the future. That means, in the short term, developing and progressing careers of middle managers and, in the longer term, investing early in education and educational initiatives which nurture talent and show off opportunities available to young girls.’

In-roads in software development

While the overall picture of women in tech isn’t promising, what we can see from the data is that the software sector crops up several times as a field that regularly employs women in top roles, if only in low numbers.

Software covers a variety of disciplines and over the past five years, compliance, e-commerce and financial software developers have each employed the average number of women directors (8.73%). McHenry believes the lack of legacy issues in the software industry, in terms of gender bias, has contributed to a more inclusive environment for women.

‘Software development is a newer industry, made up of younger organisations and start-ups that have less history and cultural past to overcome. Our digital economy is driven by good ideas and good ideas can come from anyone, at any stage in life and whatever their background. The typical culture in this sector is dynamic and empowering, and the work environment offers autonomy, innovation and creativity.’

Meanwhile, Imafidon attributes the findings to the skillset of women who choose careers within the software industry.

‘In general, women who enter software development teams have a broad range of skills that they bring to the table. Some of these include communication and leadership skills that are invaluable for an organisation if they’re to have good software development teams. There is a natural progression from development manager to development director – this is what we’re seeing in the numbers.’

New markets, new opportunities

Featuring an abundance of ground-breaking technologies, software innovations and disruptive services over the last decade and a half, the Tech Track 100 has had to incorporate new categories for these tech companies, to reflect an ever-transforming sector.

The following graphic shows Tech Track featured industries from the last 15 years with the highest percentages of women in director roles. These sectors, such as payment software and digital marketing, reflect the arrival and rising influence of innovative markets in the industry over the years.

women-leaders-in-the-tech-industry

According to McHenry, the transformation of the tech industry has created new territories and, potentially, new opportunities for women to explore. But the problem of available female talent remains.

‘This data shows the diversification in the industry and the dynamic merging, divestiture and start-up environment in play. It’s an area of high employment and growth which creates more opportunities than there is a pipeline of women to fill. The culture and nature of the workplace is attractive to women, but currently we aren’t training enough women to fill the growing number of available roles.’

A long haul commitment

We can see some headway has been made in bringing women into software, but the tech industry has a long way to go if it is to tackle the 15-year low in top tech roles among women.

While the data merely outlines this trend, many place responsibility for the results on environmental factors within the industry. Both McHenry of Microsoft and Imafidon of Stemettes , attribute this low figure to a lack of consistent and committed support for women, including opportunities for career progression, investment in young talent and training opportunities.

Effectively resolving the gender imbalance in the workplace needs long term, dedicated effort on all sides, it seems, all the way from education to employment. Only then will it be able to challenge the perceived narrowness of women’s hold on the tech sector.

Find out more about Tech Track 100 and Women leaders in tech.

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[1] This is a representative sample of all companies featured in the Tech Track 100 league from 2001 to 2015. The sample consists of all Tech Track companies from 2001 to 2015 that are listed with Companies House.


Socitm launch academy for women leaders in a digital world

The Society of Information Technology Management (Socitm) has launched a leadership academy to support aspiring female leaders in technology.

The academy called Empowering Women in a Digital World is aimed at women in the tech sector who are looking for personal growth opportunities.  Socitm academy laucnh pic

This programme is made up of a series of three one-day workshops, coaching, mentoring and group project work over three months. The course is facilitated by expert leadership coaches and trainers. Each participant will be assigned both a personal leadership coach and an experienced female mentor for the duration of the programme.

The academy is part of Socitm’s gender equality strategy and ties into the launch of its new women in IT network last month at an event sponsored by Canon in London. The launch event was held to discuss experiences and ideas on how to advance the prospects of women in IT and digital.

The association of IT and digital professionals working for local public services launched the network to give more visibility to women working in technology.

The network is the brainchild of the public sector body’s president Nadira Hussain, who also acts as customer services transformation manager at London Borough Tower Hamlets. She set up the network to continue the research and discussion around the benefits of employing a diverse workforce.

On the launch of the academy Nadira Hussain, Socitm President for 2015-16, said: “I am delighted to announce this new leadership development programme, specifically aimed at women who work in a digital environment.

“This initiative, from the Socitm Leadership Academy, aims to create role models of empowered, self-aware women, who inspire others, lead and collaborate with confidence and challenge the status quo.”

Three key topics covered at the leadership academy will be Authentic Leader – a one day workshop and personal coaching session on how to build confidence in your unique leadership style; Navigating the Landscape – a one day workshop and personal coaching session on utilising resources available to you and collaborating effectively; Optimising Impact – A one day workshop and coaching session on how to become influential and optimise your impact through confidence, courage and clarity.

Speaking at the launch of the women’s network last month was Chi Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Digital Industries, who recently became the Shadow Minister for Digital Industries under Jeremy Corbyn’s new leadership. At the launch she said: “I’m glad that Socitm are doing this and celebrating women in IT, which is something I have always been passionate about.”

She added: “Diversity is not a nice to have, diversity has benefits, and without women in IT we will never know the kind of tech we could really have.”

Places are limited to 20 participants, and will be on first-come, first served basis. The course is aimed primarily at public sector, however Socitm will be considering a limited number of private sector participants. Course materials, refreshments and lunch are included.

Registrations for the course opened 12th October 2015 and will close on 30th November 2015, when payment will be due.

There is a minimum of 12 participants required to run this course, and a maximum of 25.

Academy Prices

Public Sector Corporate members - £1515.00

Public Sector One or more members - £1595.00

Public Sector others - £1750.00

Private Sector Corporate members - £1662.50

Private Sector One or more members - £1750.00

Private Sector others - £1895.00