I am posting this blog on behalf of Melissa Jeng. Melissa is an initiative lead for Capgemini NA’s Women LEAD Employee Resource Group (ERG). Women LEAD is a network for all Capgemini colleagues (women and men) in North America who want to build and promote a community of people who respect each other’s skills and experience regardless of gender. It enables the communication of: women’s focused activities, the value these activities/initiatives have for the greater good of Capgemini, and the positive impact to our business.
Ever stop to notice the diversity of your colleagues? If you are in a technical role, how many (other) women do you work with?
I think we can all agree that the tech industry has a long way to go in achieving an even split between male and female talent. Silicon Valley, in particular, has surfaced in the media for being notoriously male-dominated. However, it is not something that plagues only Silicon Valley elite, but nearly all technical roles around the world. Capgemini has launched several initiatives to ignite our focus on gender balance issues.
In February 2016, Capgemini launched its Lean In Circle Chapter. Hannah Hyman, Assistant Director of Global Analyst Relations, and Yvonne Harris, NA Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager, serve as the co-founders and national leaders for the Capgemini Chapter. Our Women LEAD-sponsored Lean In Chapter is comprised of traditional “live” Circles, and Virtual Circles. The Circles concept is based on the book, Lean In: Women, Work and The Will To Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Capgemini’s Lean In Chapter is a safe place to learn, grow, and lead. The group will meet regularly to share and learn together. The Lean In Chapter’s objectives are to:
- Foster an environment of creativity, learning, and discussion through an open exchange of ideas;
- Enable mentorship and growth of women across the organization;
- Create a culture of success and support for women at Capgemini through a strong community of leaders; and
- Provide inspiration and support for all Capgemini Lean In Circles.
Being an active member Lean In and Capgemini’s Women LEAD ERG, I hear similar concerns of women across many service lines. Where are the talented women in technical roles at Capgemini? The Women LEAD ERG is certainly aware of the gender gap issue and we are always eager to hear from our members and colleagues on how to make improvements towards achieving more parity.
Last month, I attended the Tri-State Diversity Council’s NYC Chapter January Meeting on “Recruitment Strategies for Women in Technical Roles.” Lisa Napolione, SVP of Global R&D at The Estee Lauder Companies, led an engaging conversation about how she started as one of the first women in R&D at her company and what she has learned in her nearly 30 years in a heavily male-dominated field.
Some of the ideas she offered were:
Reward mentorship & role models. In between our 50+ hour workdays and countless other personal commitments, how do we incentivize people to spend their precious time on yet another obligation? A suggestion by an audience member was to make mentorship a promotion criteria. If possible, put some key performance indicators (KPIs) against this criteria. For the growth of our company, investing in talent is just as important as satisfying our clients.
Don’t assume you know what is best for someone. A major pitfall is that women are often overlooked for promotions or other career-advancing opportunities because people assume that they have “other priorities.” New mothers, in particular, are assumed to want to spend more time at home or cut back on responsibilities. Managers tend to avoid even asking their new mother employees, because their unconscious bias takes over.
EMPOWER everyone to lean in. You shouldn’t have to settle on talent. Instead, champion men and women equally and encourage everyone to lean in from the beginning. When we work together and give everyone the same opportunities and preparedness, we foster collaboration and the strongest team players are successful. Ultimately, collaborators are far better than superstars, because who works in a silo? A TED talk puts this idea in perspective with… chickens? Check it out here: https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_heffernan_why_it_s_time_to_forget_the_pecking_order_at_work
Follow up on mentorships. Another suggestion was to build a facilitated discussion around mentorships or people management. Sometimes we just need a boost to kick start a mentorship or avoid plateaus. A guide for the conversation can bring new ideas to a stale mentoring relationship, without being restrictive. Mentorships often fizzle after a while, but a facilitated timeline will remind mentors/mentees to reconnect. Time is often the key to rekindling a supportive mentorship.
I encourage you to start thes conversations in your local offices!
About the Author:
Melissa Jeng is a Senior Consultant in the SAP SL. She started at Capgemini nearly 5 years ago as a campus hire and has been active in D&I for nearly as long. She has held roles as an Active Member, National Sub-Team Member, and now leads a national initiative for Women LEAD. She currently lives in NYC, teaches yoga on the weekends, and enjoys listening to podcasts.