How Culture is Driving Equality for Women in Tech

by Harriet Muir
Published on March 19, 2020

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the current state of equality within the tech industry. And this year’s focus, ‘an equal world is an enabled world’, raises an important question, are we making progress?

30 per cent of the team here at Enablo are women, and somehow that statistic isn’t all that shocking within the industry. A 2018 Adeva IT study showed that while women represent 46.8 per cent of the total workforce, they occupy only 25 per cent of jobs within the tech industry.

We’ve heard it all before, ‘Women aren’t seen as equal in the tech industry’, ‘women aren’t recognised in this industry’; and ‘women simply aren’t the right fit for this industry’. But we’re calling time on that.

The truth is, progress is being made. It’s being made by both small and large organisations, doing their bit to elevate their women and showcase the importance of true, meaningful equality amongst their male peers. It’s about organisational culture, as the foundation for equality across the board.

We know that the best cultures are those that are diverse. And we’re proud to be one of them. As part of our ‘Women of Enablo’ program this year, we are continuing to encourage inclusivity, striving to be leaders for women in our industry. We know there is always room for improvement, it’s an important step forward for women in our business.

It’s time to let the women do the talking. We’ve asked the Women of Enablo whether they feel outnumbered, unsupported, or feel unequal in their roles. Let’s find out.


What qualities do you think are most important for women within the Tech Industry?

“Let me answer this with a question – do we need to be selective? If I say ‘confidence’, this may deter a woman who considers herself to have little to no confidence to not pursue what could be a lifelong dream of hers. Women, like men, come in all shapes, sizes and personality traits. The uprising in diversity among tech shows that a number of skills unique to those in it are cause for wonderful accomplishments in this industry, but that it’s also a place to cultivate new learnings. In my experience, I have always been petrified of public speaking, however confidence is now a quality I have learned since being in this industry that I can stand up in front of a client and present with pleasure.”
– Kassie McGrath, Head of Operations, Enablo

“Creativity and resilience. We know technology has no limits. Our impact as women in tech has none either. Women see the world differently; our perspectives and ideas must be harnessed and contribute to new design thinking. So for me, I think it’s important for women to be creative, let our ideas shine, and for when challenges come along (because we know they will) to be solution focused and resilient in the face of setbacks.”
– Zarese Kisielewski, Experience Consultant, Enablo

“Adventurous, innovative, collaborative, curious and creative. A sense of adventure will help resiliently bring innovative ideas to fruition. Bringing collaboration into the mix can be one of the most valuable additions to teams or project groups and being curious and creative in leadership is essential.”
– Lana Ireland, General Manager (ANZ), Enablo

How has your unique background prepared you for success in the industry?

“Being a woman has definitely allowed me to approach work differently. Diversity of opinion and process is a really good thing as it’s a sign of strength within any team. That’s not limited to gender either, it’s important to have diversity across the board. My experience in Customer Success has also given me insights into creating a great customer journey and how important the customer experience is to any business. This led me to realise how important employee experience is and by extension, having a good work culture.”
– Kate Cross, Experience Consultant, Enablo

“I naturally excelled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) all of my life, with few barriers related to gender. At school I’d breeze through science subjects, and was once in the top 0.02% in APAC in a maths comp.

Given my own genuine passion for people, teams and performance I understand and appreciate the passion and success of my team. Our people all really care about what they do, and when they shine when our customers are happy. It also helped that I got started in the tech industry very young, co-founding several start-ups through the late 90’s and 2000’s. Probably too young to have a lot of fears! I’ve kept that sense of fun… it’s very cool to be involved in projects that are ‘first in the world’, and very often ‘best in the world’.
– Lana Ireland, General Manager (ANZ), Enablo

My career up until Enablo was in the Private Equity industry where I held positions with The Carlyle Group and Goldman Sachs in global locations. Although the scene is changing now, my entire career has been in male dominated fields with sensational ego’s. This built my thick skin and I became used to “boys clubs” and the expectation that given I was the only woman, tasks were assigned to me with challenging deadlines. I was definitely treated differently.

Changes in the tech industry happen at the speed of light and are constantly evolving so there was no time to settle in and take my time when Enablo was born. Organisational skills can transfer, but thankfully my thick skin hasn’t been essential to my success in this industry given its cultural evolution. I feel more inclusive working in the tech industry with the likes of Enablo and Facebook and I believe this is because of their dedication to diversity and inclusivity.
– Kassie McGrath, Head of Operations, Enablo.


Who are your role models for women in the tech industry?

I’ve been really fortunate to work with lots of really great women. Some of the best leaders in the industry are women and it’s great to see. The biggest influence in my life has been my own mother. She has worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known and she taught me resilience, independence and to back myself on being able to handle whatever comes my way. Of course, there are women like Julie Bishop, Mia Freedman and Michelle Obama that I really admire because of their intelligence and warmth.
– Kate Cross, Experience Consultant, Enablo

Sheryl Sandberg – Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer. Sheryl has brought natural female qualities of nurture and empowerment into one of the world’s most valuable companies where she now ranks in Forbes “Most Powerful Women” list. I stop what I’m doing when I hear her name. The real world advice in her books has helped millions and her journey to the top is nothing short of inspiring. – Kassie McGrath, Head of Operations, Enablo

Do you notice a lack of women in the technology industry? If so, why do you think that’s the case?

I would love to see more women kicking goals in all industries, simply because women have a lot to offer and can really add value to any team.
– Kate Cross, Experience Consultant, Enablo 

I’m not sure why it is. Are women simply not applying for these roles? If so, maybe more needs to be done to communicate about the transferability of skills between industries and roles, and that there are open seats at the table for us.
– Zarese Kisielewski, Experience Consultant, Enablo

 

The statistics are alarming. Multiple sources report women hold between 10-20% of tech jobs in Australia. Day to day I do notice the gender disparity, especially in engineering. There has historically been a very small representation of females that aspire to become engineers at a young age.
– Lana Ireland, General Manager (ANZ), Enablo

I believe there has always been an abundance of women capable of being in this industry and that the perceived problem sat with an old mentality that women don’t belong here. I believe the Women in Tech movement has shone a necessary light on our rightful place in this industry and the contribution we have made in this uprising of its evolution.
– Kassie McGrath, Head of Operations, Enablo

What do you feel companies should offer their women?

No matter who you are or what you do, you want to feel valued at work. At the end of the day it’s really human and really simple… women just want equal opportunities to showcase their skills and talents, and to be recognised for them.
– Kate Cross, Experience Consultant, Enablo 

 

Individually targeted opportunities and support to develop. Trust and conscious empowerment when it matters most. And a company mindset and culture that is limitless in order to encourage its female team members to be ambitious, set goals and work hard with confidence and faith in a good future.
– Lana Ireland, General Manager (ANZ), Enablo

 

Equality in the form of title, salary and respect at the very least. Enablo is dedicated to supporting the empowerment of our women and fostering their personal and professional development. We offer a program dedicated to our women, that is also inclusive of our men. It includes global experts in integrated health, mindfulness mentoring and communication strategies.
– Kassie McGrath, Head of Operations, Enablo

 

What I love about Enablo and my male colleagues is that they not only understand the pressures and inequalities that can and do exist in the corporate context (hello glass ceiling!), but they actively seek to be better as colleagues and support our growth as leaders in our own right. I feel every company should provide their leaders with a program that teaches and guides this kind of open and respectful dialogue.
– Zarese Kisielewski, Experience Consultant, Enablo

 

Keep an eye out for the extended version from each of our Women of Enablo, including interviews and indepth answers from questions above.

 

Meet the Author
Harriet Muir
Harriet discovered the power of Workplace when she rolled it out at a large energy company while in their internal comms team. Now she gets to bring together her love of collaboration tech and internal culture with her experience in marketing and storytelling as Enablo's Marketing Manager.

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