Having spent 30+ years in the technology industry, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with companies that create the exciting products that continue to drive our future. While I have worked with many extremely talented individuals over the years, one thing has been glaringly absent: diversity among my colleagues. Whether it is at a technology conference, a sales meeting, etc., I have many times found myself to be one of only a handful of women in the room; many times, I have indeed been the ONLY woman in the room.
Several studies have shown diversity within an organization may help drive business growth. Companies that do not strive for gender balance may lack different opinions, innovation and may not truly capitalize on key opportunities to build revenue. Diversity in the workplace can bring in more creativity and better results. Studies show companies that focus on diversity and gender balance are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.1
Because I have seen firsthand the many contributions women can make within the technology industry, I have always looked for opportunities to lift other women up throughout my career. Whether through mentoring, promoting the talents of female colleagues in the industry when and where appropriate, or identifying opportunities to recruit women into the industry, it has been a personal commitment of mine to find ways to help build diversity within the organizations of which I have been a part of, and to help others see the value of a diverse group of team members.
I was extremely excited to join Linda Morris, Sondra White, and others as one of the founding members of the Flash LeadHERs group at KIOXIA America. This was the perfect initiative that could provide me the opportunity to leverage my passion around building and promoting gender diversity and lifting other women up within a traditionally male-centric industry that is filled with tremendous opportunity for so many. I viewed LeadHERs as an opportunity to help formalize a structure to help other women in the industry and create a path for them to pursue a fulfilling career in the world of high tech.
Once our initial foundational work was complete and our statement, mission and vision unveiled, we all knew garnering executive alignment and identifying a “champion” was going to be key if we were to be successful. We formed an Executive Task Force with a charter to gain senior leadership support for the group. Our team created and delivered formal presentations to the executive team, among others, which were extremely well received. This much-needed support helped us set the stage for positioning LeadHERs for the next stages of growth.
We immediately began conducting bi-weekly meetings to set and launch our goals for the year. First, it was time to build out our group’s infrastructure to ensure we were effective and efficient in tackling our key initiatives. This included establishing focused subcommittees and creating a LeadHERs internal website to share information and drive communication effectively and efficiently.
Next, we knew that for this group to gain momentum we would need to scale it in a strategic and thoughtful manner. It was important to develop somewhat of a profile for these critical “next” members. Key characteristics shared by this new set of women were that they possess the ability to:
- Help build a strong group foundation to support future growth
- Support the core goals of LeadHERs
- Share in our common vision
- Seize and create opportunities to lift other women colleagues up within KIOXIA America and the industry
- Be well organized and productive to take on the additional workload involved in becoming core members of the group
Each of the founding members began reaching out to potential “next” members to gauge interest and extend invitations to join. Our new members were onboarded through a custom “welcome” presentation created specifically for LeadHERs.
Finally, the group has begun to identify some key initiatives to drive broader company expansion and involvement. Events such as International Women’s Day on March 8th, SuperWomen in Flash and others that promote the tremendous value of women in tech will help garner critical visibility for not only LeadHERs, but for the company among its peers.
Gender inequality can mean longer-term challenges for organizations that can be costly. Particularly in high tech industries, the digital skills gap and demand for tech workers continues to grow. It is more important now than ever that we encourage women to pursue a career path in tech, and that companies continue to grow and develop them once they are in the field. Organizations that have a reputation as a diverse workplace tend to be more successful in recruiting top talent, saving the company both money and time in finding the best employees.
Through its support of LeadHERs, KIOXIA America is taking critical steps in attracting, retaining, encouraging, and developing talented women to create an exciting path for them within the world of high tech. I am certainly proud to be a part of such an initiative and look forward helping these new members of LeadHERs and all women of KIOXIA America to achieve their potential for many years to come!
1 Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters#:~:text=1.,corporate%20performance%20and%20gender%20diversity.&text=Companies%20in%20the%20top%20quartile%20for%20gender%20diversity%20are%2015,national%20industry%20medians%20(exhibit).