WeAreTheCity talks to Milko van Duijl, General Manager for UK & Ireland at CA Technologies, about gender equality.
How have you seen gender diversity change over the years?
I’ve enjoyed a hugely rewarding career in technology, working for some of the largest and most respected tech companies in all corners of the world. During that time there has undoubtedly been a sea change in attitudes towards gender.
When I began, the technology industry—both the vendors and customers—was dominated by men. All of that has changed now. You’re just as likely to walk into a customer meeting and greet a female chief information officer as you are a male one.
I’m very pleased to see that women are now valued and rewarded more for their contribution to the organisation.
What difference is that gender diversity making in business?
A huge difference. Let me give you an example. During the time I was based in the Asia Pacific region, I was working in a highly diverse environment—different cultures, different languages, different behaviours. One of the things I learned is that diversity can be a very effective competitive weapon. To work successfully across this broad cultural canopy, you can’t have a narrow train of thought. You need to draw together the ideas and opinions from all these people to make a difference. That applies as much to gender as it does to race, nationality, or religion.
Let’s not forget too that we are living in an era of digital transformation, where almost every company—whether a bank, retailer, or telco – is becoming a software companies. Here at CA Technologies, we refer to it as the ‘application economy’. Innovation distinguishes the winners from the losers in this new age, and you achieve that invention by adopting an inclusive and diverse workplace. Behind each breakthrough are people who examine challenges from every angle—and you need diversity of thought, background, and experience to understand those challenges and win.
How is CA Technologies promoting gender equality?
Here at CA Technologies, we are constantly finding new ways to foster gender diversity and support the advancement of women in IT both inside and outside the company.
Our ‘Thrive’ programme, for example, is designed to help create the most inclusive and flexible workplace for our employees. We have been voted one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers; a significant proportion of the participants in our Leadership Development Programs are women; and our Create Tomorrow programme in Europe, encourages young people, and particularly girls, to pursue qualifications and careers in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
Last year it culminated in CA Technologies winning a Silver banding for gender in the Business in the Community Diversity and Wellbeing Benchmark, the UK’s most comprehensive benchmark for workplace gender and race diversity.
Why should senior leaders help more women make it into the boardroom?
It’s simple: Just look at the advantages of having women in senior executive roles. A McKinsey study found that return on equity can be as much as 50% higher for companies that rank in the top quartile of executive-board diversity, comparing to those that don’t. A study from Harvard Business School also found that a diverse workplace helps foster creativity and innovation and can have a real impact on a company’s idea generation.
A diverse workforce creates a better work environment and can go a long way when it comes to creativity, problem-solving and team work – all the essential pillars of any agile, innovative company. If you have that balance of approach and thought in an organisation, you are further along your journey to winning.
What advice do you have for women to raise their profile in business?
Speaking from the technology perspective, I would advise young women to consider a career in engineering or other STEM-related skill. The application economy presents so much opportunity for the future that these skills will be in high demand in the years and decades to come. Also, if I was a student today I would learn to code. Being a software engineer provides a platform to have a wide influence on society and opens the door to a vast range of career opportunities.
Moreover, don’t be afraid to speak up. Be bold. Management needs to know who you are. So be in the spotlight as much as you can and get noticed.
My final advice is this: Don’t let anything hold you back. Approach companies where you think you can make a difference. The opportunities are there for women as much as they are for men, so go out and grasp them!