In my 30-year career in high tech, I - like many women - have encountered endless hurdles trying to balance full-time work and business travel, all while raising three children and trying to maintain my sanity on top of it (that last one is up for debate). It’s safe to say that being the only woman in the room is routine for me. After figuring out how to navigate this vastly shared experience in tech and find my voice, it’s always been a mission of mine to help other women find their voice and achieve their potential.
Fortunately, a few years ago I was able to act more formally on this desire. In 2018, I was challenged by my manager at the time to figure out ways to increase the number of women we employed and promote a career-building environment. This conversation was a catalyst to move into “startup” mode, and we set out to create something to not only welcome more women in our workforce, but uplift the women already working for the company.
To get this initiative off the ground, I worked with Sondra White, our HR director, to tap into her experience. Sondra connected us with Cisco’s Karen Ashley, who founded their Women in Tech group. Karen was able to share herSave process of building a community of women who want to be empowered and educated. Inspired, we then reached out to like-minded women in our company to gauge their interest in starting a similar group focused on career-building, amplifying women’s voices and making KIOXIA America (Toshiba Memory America at the time) more attractive to women in general. They responded with a resounding “yes!” and LeadHERs was born.
Determined to drive towards positive change, the group started foundational work and composed its Statement, Mission and Vision:
- LeadHERs is dedicated to making KIOXIA America a great place to work by empowering, enriching and educating the community of KIOXIA America women to achieve their potential
- Use education, exposure and enrichment to connect the creative, innovative and hardworking women of KIOXIA America
- Attract and retain women into careers at KIOXIA America
- Empower women to lead by providing tools and opportunities to help women cultivate their careers
- Create mentoring program to increase commitment of women at KIOXIA America
- Provide mutual support in achieving professional and personal goals
- We will attract a strong membership by empowering, educating and inspiring the community of KIOXIA America women. This will result in:
- KIOXIA America evolving into a company with gender diversity
- Women helping women to drive change
- A company where women have equal opportunity at all levels
- Improving access to leadership roles
- Empowerment - where women achieve their potential and KIOXIA America benefits
As a founding member of LeadHERs, I believe diversity and empowerment are critical in any field - especially tech. Without these aspects, a company will miss out on opportunities to build a better business and create far-reaching products and solutions. Community within a company is also important; after all, it’s the connections that I have developed with my colleagues over the years that have kept me here at KIOXIA America. LeadHERs formally established this community and created a forum to understand the issues that woman are facing at work and help them maximize their potential. But this was just the beginning (stay tuned for follow-up blogs).
As a newly independent organization, KIOXIA America has a unique opportunity to address diversity and inclusion and draw in talented women. And more than that, I want people to be proud to work here - to speak positively about our company to colleagues, customers and their families. The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on parents, forcing many to juggle childcare and work (in-person or remote). This burden has fallen particularly hard on working mothers, and now more than ever, women need career support.
I encourage current and future women of KIOXIA America to say “Yes” to new opportunities, to actively participate in meetings/calls and to make sure your voice is heard. KIOXIA America needs a pipeline of leaders moving forward, and I am excited be a part of making sure women can see themselves leading the way here and at organizations like ours.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of KIOXIA America, Inc.