Women leaders address diversity in tech at Subscribed London

By Aarthi Rayapura November 15, 2016

Subscribed London 2016 began with a powerful session on “The Diversity Equation: Solutions for Positive Change”. Hosted over breakfast by Zuora’s Women’s Initiative team, panelists Kalwant Gill (Founder of Patchwork Quilt Ltd), Suzy Levy (Founder and Managing Director of The Red Plate), Alvina Antar (CIO at Zuora), and Ellie Cosgrave (Doctorate student at Bristol University and Director at Science Grrl) spoke about ways to influence change and increase diversity at the workplace. The session was moderated by Tamsyn Atwell (VP, Global Services EMEA at Zuora).

“The workplace was created by men, for men in the 1930’s. Our men have changed, our cultures have changed, our communities have changed” said Kalwant Gill, setting the stage for the talk.Honest discourse was stressed by many of the panelists. ““We need to have honest discourse to accept there are difference between masculine and feminine ways of working. We all sit somewhere on that spectrum. There’s inherent differences between men and women but effectively to change cultures and organisations, we need to accept this” she said.

Suzy Levy who’s a Non-Executive Director at The Home Office, and a trustee for The Women’s Sport Trust said that there are three main ways to change the gender diversity balance in an organization – you recruit more, promote better or lose less. “Knowing which of these three is your priority is critical. Know the delta you need to make up and then create the programmes. Hold your organizations accountable” advised Levy.

The importance of external mentoring and women’s groups within organizations was discussed. “Mentoring, role-models,and coaching are an incredibly important part of supporting young women to succeed. However, I don’t believe we have enough mentors to go around and to fix the problem” warned Cosgrave.

All the panelists agreed that part of the problem was century-old conditioning built into societies which discouraged girls from choosing certain streams and pursuing careers. “The biggest challenge for women is not external to us. It’s in our own hands – it’s self-worth” pointed out Gill. Zuora CIO Alvina Antar shared her personal journey as a woman in technology and urged women to believe in themselves. “Staying true to who you are and not allowing anyone to tell you otherwise is very important. All along, I always thought the opportunities I had was because of luck or hard work. But the reality is “I am worthy”. We should all feel that way” said Antar.

Check out Subscribed Recap for more updates from the conference!