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The Future Demands A More Diverse Workforce

06/07/2017 09:40 EDT | Updated 06/08/2017 07:26 EDT
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In the run-up to the G(irls) 20 Summit in Munich, I've been reflecting on the reasons why it's more critical than ever to invest in the future of women and girls in technology.

Thanks to the unprecedented pace of change in the market, we are now at a moment where anything is possible. To seize this opportunity, it's important to recognize that the power base is shifting. The new technology buyers of today have extremely high expectations, and increasingly, only want to do business with companies that mirror their own diversity. Woman have a vital role in this shifting landscape -- but we need to create the openings for them to succeed. The new digital economy is the catalyst for action.

However, we cannot sit back and expect this revolution to automatically change the lives of working women. Leaders in organizations must proactively take steps to make this happen.

From a business point of view, diversity has a measurable positive impact on long-term business results, creating an environment which fosters the creativity and innovation required the keep pace with the fast-changing market.

Organizations should prioritize diversity by creating strategies that:

  1. Educate leadership teams on the importance of diversity: According to McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  2. Invest in programs which expose girls early to their potential career paths and opportunities: I'm very passionate about bringing more women into the technology industry. At Avanade, we are proud of the work we do with Modern Muse and JA Europe to provide young people from primary school to university with experiences that build the skills and competencies they will need to succeed in a global economy. And our "15 for 15" program provides 15 young with financial assistance so they can pursue university degrees in STEM.
  3. Organizations need to have a formal leadership program in place for women: Mentorship is particularly important for women forging paths in male dominated industries. As leaders, it is our responsibility to actively participate in mentoring and bringing new talent into the business. At Avanade, we focus on strengthening the confidence of women so that they have an equal chance at career progression. We demonstrate that commitment though our Leadership Program for Women and Women's Executive Mentoring Program. Both programs connect women around the world with one-on-one relationships with the Executive Committee (Avanade's senior leadership team), providing them with a sounding board for their ideas, and giving them the confidence to take risks. We are seeing encouraging results from these efforts. The number of women entering leadership positions is increasing each year, and, overall the percentage of women at Avanade has grown by more than 25% since the start of our Diversity & Inclusion program.

This is in an incredibly exciting time to be at the forefront of the technology industry. The digital economy is creating enormous opportunities, but to seize them, now is the time to embrace a more diverse workforce. The market will not wait.

By Pamela Maynard, Area President, Europe, Avanade

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