CRN celebrates International Women's Day

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CRN celebrates International Women's Day

Friday is International Women’s Day and CRN will celebrate it by attending rhipe’s Women In Cloud lunch.

The theme for the day is #BalanceForBetter, to point out that balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage ...

One highlight of the lunch will be a panel session featuring the following speakers and their vision for #BalanceForBetter:

  • Dan Draper, Vice President Engineering, Expert360
  • Claudia Mcintosh, Director Partner Development, Microsoft Australia
  • Carolyn Breeze, Country Manager, Braintree Australia
  • Erin Butler, Area Vice President ANZ, Citrix 
  • Faith Rees, CEO & Co-Founder, Six Pivot & Cloud Ctrl

CRN caught up with three of the panelists – Erin Butler, Carolyn Breeze and Dan Draper  – ahead of the lunch to learn about their #BalanceForBetter vision.

CRN: What strategies can work well to promote inclusion in the workplace?

Erin Butler, Citrix: We need to build a corporate culture that not only encourages diversity and inclusion, but drives accountability and action at all levels in the organization. At Citrix, we engage employees with different perspectives, backgrounds, and bring them on board to drive diversity of thought and a better outcome for our business.

I am a big believer in trying to eliminate hierarchy and improve access so that everyone in the organization feels that they have a voice. Simple actions and attitudes like the ‘open door’ policy by management and senior leadership can promote open dialogue, diversity of thought and inclusion across the organisation.

Carolyn Breeze, Braintree: Braintree and PayPal have introduced numerous programs and kicked off discussions around the globe promoting inclusion in the workplace. Although board-driven diversity and inclusion strategies are critical, we have found that a truly inclusive office culture is driven by the employees themselves. As one example, at PayPal our employees have created the ‘Ministry of Culture’, which acts as the employees’ voice on a range of issues and topics of interest – from Christmas parties to health and wellbeing initiatives.

CRN:  Can you share specific ways that you personally have advocated for change, the successes you have had and challenges you’ve faced?

Dan Draper, Expert 360: One of the most challenging things has been calling out other men for poor behaviour. I think a lot of men witness inappropriate behaviour by other men but don't act because they find it too confronting.

I've personally been bullied quite a lot by other men for advocating for women so I understand why some men find this challenging.

However, I encourage every man to remind other men that some behaviour simply is not acceptable - especially those in leadership positions.

Carolyn Breeze, Braintree: In a previous role, I was due to come back from maternity leave and I had a conversation with my manager. He was great and very supportive, but not a parent. This company gave me two options:

  1. Come back full time, with them allowing flexible hours when need be. They said, “No need for you to be at everything. "In fact, we had drinks with the VP on Friday night and didn't invite you as we knew you wouldn't want to come.”
  2. Come back three days a week

I didn’t want either option. I loved my job. I wanted to be there early. I wanted to stay when I was needed. I wanted to be given the options to be at those events. Essentially, no one asked me what I wanted. So I forced the conversation towards that, which was extra support at home, for example with child care or a cleaner. This outcome satisfied all parties, and this company got a more engaged and productive leader.

I took this onto my own managerial style and have these conversations regularly with my valued employees. It all comes down to being flexible. Flexibility is not flexible hours. Flexibility is an organisation's ability to flex and support the diverse needs of its employees. Flexibility is not a women’s issue it’s ultimately a business issue.

Erin Butler, Citrix: Having experienced maternity leave and the process and policies engineered to bring a parent back into the workforce after maternity leave inspired me to seek change.

At the time we only had short term maternity leave in the US, it was incredibly short and financially burdening.

I prepared a competitive analysis, business case and presented a policy change to the leadership of Citrix. 

At the time, many people in the organisation didn’t realize we did not have a global policy. This is even more evidence why it’s important to have diverse set of perspectives at the table to ensure decisions and policies are as inclusive as possible. Though challenging, it was ultimately rewarding and I was able to help form the policy we have today. Citrix globally has a parental leave scheme well above government and industry standards.

CRN: How can we encourage today’s girls and young women to venture into technology to become business leaders of the future?

Carolyn Breeze, Braintree: Technology companies need to invest in real programs and initiatives designed to make technology and fintech a desirable pathway for girls and young women early on. As a business, it’s also about being self-aware. At Braintree make it a priority to proactively address gender imbalances by ensuring hiring managers consider a diverse range of applicants. If a gender imbalance is identified, we review our internal processes to see why this is the case and what can be done to resolve it.

Erin Butler, Citrix: As a technology company we strongly support STEM initiatives. But this is only part of the picture; opportunities beyond STEM that encourage women and girls to develop management and leadership skills are equally important, as computer science and engineering. Many of the talented women I work with today did not have technical backgrounds before coming into technology.

Dan Draper, Expert 360:I believe the most important thing is for young women to have female role models in technology: you can't be what you can't see.

CRN: What has been your biggest success and your biggest learning opportunity related to diversity?

Erin Butler, Citrix: Pushing yourself to be uncomfortable and leading by example are two key strategies that have helped me to make the most of development and career opportunities. I’ve stayed at Citrix for twelve years, because of the opportunities and growth I have achieved.

Some of the hardest times like being in graduate school, having my first kid and working full time. Those are the times that can make you think “this is too much” but had I not kept at it I wouldn’t have ended up where I am. When you look at the funnel problem of keeping women in the workforce it’s making sure that during the hardest times people need to help each other and give some perspective that yes you can do this and yes you can make it through.

Dan Draper, Expert 360:Since starting to explore this topic I've had a stream of constant learning opportunities. It is a much more complex topic than I thought initially. I'd say the biggest learning is the realisation that in my eagerness to understand the challenges of diversity (specifically gender diversity) I was putting a great deal of expectation on women to "teach me" about the problem. This is what I've come to understand as a form of "cognitive labour". It's not enough for me to just ask women what the problems are or indeed how they may be solved. I need to read, do my own research and try different approaches myself - as I believe all men should.

Carolyn Breeze, Braintree: Looking back on my younger self and what she did for her personal career ambitions, my advice would be to bank on your strengths and trust yourself. When I was younger, I would take one look at the job description and, if I didn’t tick all of the boxes, I would disregard the opportunity.

Through personal growth and mentorship, I have learned that the best roles to apply for are the ones that allow you to showcase your strengths. My advice for young women is to look to your strengths and unapologetically trust yourself.

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