This year marked the second annual Women and Equality Summit at Dreamforce after 2015’s huge success. Men and women alike left the summit feeling encouraged by a future immersed in diversity and for once in a good long while, we had something to believe in again.
Interestingly, unlike most events that promise the world and deliver very little, Salesforce continued its Women in Tech drive for the 12 months that have followed which has helped accelerate the global effort to get more women into the ‘STEM’ subjects by giving huge exposure to the issue.
With the big leaders in the industry giving the Women in Tech issue some much-needed exposure, more and more people have got involved to encourage universal change. But after all of the Women in Tech User Groups, the awards that acknowledge the successful female tech leaders and the companies that have embraced the need for diversity in the workplace – has much changed?
Small Step for Womankind
I have read many articles on this debate of late and a huge proportion of them focus on how much of the world needs to change before we’re even half way there. As a woman, I sit there nodding along, eyes glaring, agreeing with every last word of them. But it’s also important to recognise change when even the smallest of changes begin to emerge.
What I have also read on this debate is that the number of girls taking Computing GCSE’s has doubled from 5,700 in 2015 to 12,500 in 2016 with 24% of those achieving an A*/A. This may seem like a small step but it is a small step in the direction we’ve all been hoping for.
Google also recently hired Ruth Porat as their Chief Financial Officer and Microsoft released some ever-growing numbers of 29% of women comprising their workforce. According to the International Business Times, the amount of women in technology has increased from 30.5% in 2011 to 33.5% in 2016 among start-ups. Combine that with organisations like STEMettes seeing an increase in young girls seeking a way into the the ‘STEM’ subjects, and we can start to feel a little more optimistic.
Most big companies feel like they have an obligation to change the shape of business with the Women in Tech debate being the most prominent. Salesforce, however, don’t see it as an obligation – more of a personal need. CEO and Founder Marc Benioff said that ‘every CEO should have this on their agenda’ and that they should ‘take it very personally’. I can’t help but agree.
I was sceptical about how pivotal the Salesforce Women in Tech groups are even though they’ve proven popular across the world with countries including Australia, Canada and India all hosting. My scepticism was short-lived when I attended my first Ladies Who Salesforce
event at the Salesforce tower in Central London. What I found was men and women, both coming together to find ways of motivating and inspiring each other inside and outside of the workplace. Successful women in the STEM fields came forward to discuss how male mentors had helped them to achieve great achievements and how working together, not against each other is fundamentally key to generating the change that we crave.
The Role of Dreamforce
Dreamforce isn’t a Women in Tech event but it does give 150,000 attendees the chance to find out more about the movement. It recognised the need for an annual Women and Equality Summit and gave it to us and for that Salesforce, we thank you.
Most big changes are a slow process. But for all the hours, days and months it’s going to take for women and men to be equals in the working environment, it will be worth it so let’s continue this journey and celebrate our successes along the way.