Women in technology’s C-suite are changing the way companies think - and in a big way. As women champion more and more IT leadership roles at large organizations, start-ups, and everything in between, it’s no longer possible to ignore the business and cultural implications at play.
But why is this shift a big deal in the first place? It’s a big deal because women in higher-level roles have always struggled with a myriad of challenges, especially in technology’s notoriously male-dominated space. From battling stereotypes of timidness to not being taken seriously amongst their male counterparts and more, women have faced an uphill battle from day one.
Luckily today, more businesses than ever are actively partaking in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The purpose? To welcome women into technology’s C-suite roles and encourage them to share their strong, innovative ideas.
THE IMPACT OF WOMEN ENTERING LEADERSHIP ROLES IN TECH
A recent Korn Ferry study revealed that women now make up 39% of all US executives, a 7% increase from four years ago. Another study conducted in early 2019 examined the % of women in top jobs by title and industry. The analysis found that across the most prominent C-suite titles, an average of 25% of the top leaders were women, up slightly from 23 percent from 2018.
From high-ranking executives to department heads and more, women are holding increasingly more leadership roles than in the past. Their titles include Vice President, Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Director of Technology, IT Director, IT Manager, Management Information Systems Director, and Technical Operations Officer. Along with their C-suite titles, many head massive departments and teams that are impacting the daily operations at their organizations.
As women embrace high-ranking roles, it’s becoming clear that a diversified workforce fosters diverse ideas and innovations. Women are bringing fresh perspectives to their roles and making bold moves that are positively impacting the bottom line. In fact, adding women to the C-suite can fundamentally change how companies think. Research shows that companies with more women in high-ranking positions are more profitable, more socially responsible, and provide safer, higher-quality customer experiences - and that’s just to name a few! This mindset and operational shift are incredibly valuable in the technology industry since new innovations can set a company apart from competition and position organizations as industry leaders.
We’re also seeing an impact on company culture, values, and DEI at technology companies where high-ranking women leaders chair company-sponsored Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). For example, that’s the case for the Women's Resource Group (WRG) at Yoh and Day & Zimmermann. Our female executives are building a platform for employee personal development and business contribution by giving a voice to the unique views and perspectives of women. The vision is to empower and amplify our company's community of women by establishing paths to collaborate, innovate, promote and develop talent, and meet customers' needs through an inclusive and connected culture.
LEADERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
While, today, there are way too many women at the top of technology's leadership to name them all, there are definitely a few worth keeping a close eye on in the coming years.
- WANDA MA, SVP OF IT - SEPHORA
Wanda Ma is an advocate for women in tech and founded Women Who Tech. She also founded Advancing Women Executives (AWE), a training and development company that focuses on equality for women in the workplace and their economic growth. And on top of that, making Sephora one of the best online places to shop for cosmetics!
- JOANNE KENNEDY, VP OF TECHNOLOGY - NORDSTROM
JoAnne Kennedy is passionate and outspoken about diversity and inclusion. She serves as a sponsor for Nordstrom's Asian Pacific-Islander employee resource group. Joanne has been a leader in her prior roles with Microsoft, NBC News, and the Today Show.
- WHITNEY WOLFE HERD, FOUNDER, CEO & DIRECTOR - BUMBLE
Whitney Wolfe Herd has single-handedly taken Bumble from start-up to a public company. And now, she's one of the youngest billionaires in America. Her “women get to make the first move attitude” has made Bumble one of the most successful dating apps and brands ever..
And there are so many more! For a more comprehensive list, check out the 50 most Powerful women in technology.
THE FUTURE OF WOMEN CHAMPIONING IT'S LEADERSHIP
So much has changed for women over the past decade alone. Women have taken the initiative to insert themselves into the C-suite at technology companies and make a difference. So far, we've seen a change in the way companies think, its impact on the bottom line, and how it's driven positive change within the workforce. But, what's next?
Although the future is bright for women entering high-ranking, technology-focused roles, there are still challenges on the horizon. Obviously, women need to continue holding C-level and senior positions in tech! Additionally, they have the opportunity to use their role as a platform to educate the workforce, lead or share ideas for company-wide DEI initiatives, and put their innovations into action. Women will continue to challenge the status quo.