Bringing more women into leadership positions across the ICT industry has been an ongoing issue for many years, despite efforts from individuals and organisations to achieve parity. ARN recently invited a collection of female leaders from the ICT industry to share their extensive knowledge and opinions on the ongoing issues.
Nadia Cameron, ARN (NC): There is a discrepancy in the number of women compared to men in the ICT industry. Why does this exist?
Deborah Homewood, PacNet (DH): I’m not sure it’s that different in our industry compared to others. I think there is disparity in ICT because of the need for an engineering background. I’m not an engineer and didn’t have to be, but in this industry, engineering or science are often still the entry-level point. That is changing, and we’re seeing more women get involved and the numbers changing generally. There is still 50 per cent participation rates in the sales areas and HR, marketing. I think the broader issue has been about choice – whether you wanted to work four days a week, or full-time. One of the things I did when I became CEO was put in place flexible working arrangements. You should be able to work four days a week and still be on the leadership team, but there is still a lack of flexibility apparent at leadership level. It’s a question of our cultural preferences and who makes the choices, and how we bring women back into companies.
Kathryn Power, 3D Networks (KP): Particularly in Asia, I think there is a different approach culturally. It has predominantly been that way. I look back now, and think I hid the fact that I had a child, so I wouldn’t be seen as an employment risk.
Angela Hughes, 3Com (AH): The interesting thing is I report into China and my boss is female, who has a family, and she is the most hard-working women I have ever met. I chose to stay in Brisbane, although the role is usually in Sydney, because I prefer the lifestyle. I think 3Com made the decision to appoint me as a person, not because of location. I just travel a lot, as they do. And they have that assistance at home, as I have.
Alenka Tindale, Targus (AT): My question is, when my daughter and daughter-in-law start their families, and my son becomes the breadwinner… what struggle will emerge? I’m not sure how this generation will view their careers and I wonder whether women in corporates will choose the quality of life, relationships and friends, and will want to help their parents and be there for the children.
DH: Doesn’t that come back to having that level of support – whether it be your partner, your parents or a nanny? There’s no point being left-wing about it – we have to take men on-board with us and show them why there are shared benefits. It’s about changing dynamics and culture.
Belinda Ross, HP (BR): It’s well known in HP that [female to male parity] is not across the board or in all business units. It’s more my business unit which has the female leaders. I think there are a number of reasons for that. We have a younger, more dynamic and relationship-based business. It’s about enjoying the role, and I feel that has led to more people enjoying the division. We do have a global policy around diversity, but it’s all forms, not just women.
NC: There are more women in vendor businesses than reseller organisations. Is this because resellers don’t necessarily have the structure and diversity policies in place?
Andrea Della-Mattea, Insight (ADM): I must admit, certainly looking at this community and globally, there have been more advancements in the reseller community to accommodate women in the workforce. Five or 10 years ago, there wasn’t as much, even if you just look at the number of companies that have paid maternity leave, or flexible working arrangements.
Maggie Alexander, FITT (MA): It does come down to how many women are out there in that pool applying for the job. You need to look at whether the mix is diluted at that point.