Women in Tech Should Grab Their Piece of the P.I.E.

Women in Tech Should Grab Their Piece of the P.I.E.

February 07, 2020 0 Comments
The Mass Technology Leadership Council’s Professional Women’s Community digs into careers, employee research groups, and having male allies in the workforce.
Performance. Image. Exposure. These three pillars of P.I.E. are essential for professional women to earn a bigger slice of the pie, especially at technology companies.

I recently attended a MassTLC Professional Women’s Community session sponsored by Salesforce. The session was on “Culture that supports an empowered workforce.” The panel dug into careers, employee resource groups (ERGs), and having male allies in the workforce. Panel participants included Stefan Piesche and Philip Jefferson of Salesforce, Jodi Sweeney of ClickSoftware, and Shalini Shalibahan of Fidelity.

While I’ve been to these types of events in the past, this one was a bit different for me. Perhaps it is because for the past year or so I’ve been part of the team responsible for Progress’ own Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) efforts. Being part of this group has evolved my thinking in many ways and brought to light issues and challenges that maybe I should have been mindful of long ago.

When I walked into the room, first and foremost, I noticed the standing-room-only audience was made up of a variety of people from a variety of companies – including at least half a dozen men. I’m always pleased when I see men participating in women’s events because these things are not just about being a woman, but also about our peers, friends and family that are supporting our efforts.

Danielle Sutherby, Jennifer Ortiz and Erica McShane of Progress Software

From left to right: Communications Specialist Danielle Sutherby, Vice President of Corporate Marketing Jennifer Ortiz and Senior Director of Corporate Communications Erica McShane, all of Progress, attended a recent MassTLC Professional Women’s Community event sponsored by Salesforce.

That is why I was even more impressed to see the panel included two men in senior positions within Salesforce. It was highly informative and provided guidance around several topics. A few of the soundbites that caught my attention included:

On the Subject of ERGs

  • “Women’s groups are about a coming together of like-minded individuals.”
  • “ERGs are strategic, not a social group.”
  • “You don’t need to directly align with a group to participate—it’s a good learning opportunity.”
  • “Promote your events and point out that ALL people are invited.”

Career Advice

  • “You have to be good at it and you have to like it.”
  • “Learn to embrace change; learn to let go of biases.”
  • “Align yourself with a company that aligns with your values.”
  • “Look for the tough problems… solving the tough problems transcends gender”

Probably the one piece of advice that truly resonated with me more than anything was when Shalini Shalibabhan discussed P.I.E. She pointed out that many people are often top performers and carry the image of a trusted, valued employee among co-workers and direct managers, but where we often fall down is in how we expose ourselves to those outside of our direct teams. Because of this, a person can be overlooked because of the lack of awareness.

Shalini encouraged attendees to step out of their comfort zone, to get involved in other opportunities outside of their traditional business role in order to gain visibility. She even joked about a women’s event that she went to. The CEO was there, so she made it a point to go up and introduce herself to him.

In my role, I take for granted the exposure piece of P.I.E. because I’ve always had the opportunity to engage with CEO staff members and anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m far from shy. But I’ve also learned that just because I get that exposure, doesn’t mean the rest of my team does. As a manager I need to be more of an advocate and ally and provide my team more with opportunity and guidance on how to gain visibility across our organization.

Events like these bring to the forefront issues that are a source of pride and passion for me. I encourage anyone interested in the MassTLC or the women’s group to visit their events calendar and find a session that addresses your passion.

Learn more about MassTLC

Erica McShane

Erica McShane has more than 15 years’ experience in high-tech PR and corporate communications. With a focus on building awareness across the media, analyst and influencer communities, she has worked with all kinds of businesses--from start-up to global tech giants to build visibility, credibility and market awareness within the business, trade and online media. At Progress, Erica and her team are responsible for worldwide media, analyst, social media and customer relations activities.

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