Back Vicky Schildkamp, General Manager, Automation Logic
Why is Women in Technology an important issue for you and your company?
It’s important because the company is founded on an implicit sense of fairness. Creating a workspace with equal opportunities for all is a part of who we are. One of the things that makes Automation Logic special is how respectful people are of each other and how important it is that we hire to our culture. Our values are very non-gendered, for example humility is an un-challenging virtue, which can be attractive to women. People here do live our values and AL women do feel respected, everyone does. It’s important that it should continue. It’s especially important because many women we bring in through our DevOps Academy are very junior and need extra support coming into such a male dominated industry. Our graduates get listened to from day one and everyone has a voice. Also from another perspective, it’s proven that diverse teams work better. Empathy improves relationships in teams, less assumptions means better results.
How do you think we can get more women into technology?
It requires positive action, creating role-models / thought leaders, changing our language to be friendly and accessible to people of all backgrounds, providing more support to keep women's skills up to date and confidence high during family career breaks. We also need to address what the current barriers to access are, when does the gender gap start. At AL we’re doing well with our Academy but we have plans in place to be addressing the issue at all levels. Work experience and STEM women groups are a great way of helping women 'get their foot in the door' and open their minds to the various possibilities within the industry, we're focussed on championing them through the process.
What do you think should be done to enable more women to rise through to the more senior roles in the IT sector?
Covid has accelerated this by forcing men and women to work flexibly and to open the minds of employers - effectively removing a major obstacle. Employers have been forced to trust their employees more and many have found that managing by results instead of 'presenteeism' is liberating. Women at higher levels also need to have role models and mentors. It's a shame to not have as many later-career women in tech as they are often at the peak of their powers and experience. Employers miss out on the valuable variety of perspective this can bring to decision-making and leading. All of these questions and responses can equally be applied to people from all backgrounds - the fact that women represent 52% of the population and yet still have these challenges shows how vital it is that we champion people from all heritages, genders, ages, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. 2021 is going to be a big diversity and inclusion year for AL, put in place mentoring initiatives, revise maternal leave, we’re also going to be looking at taking candidates from a wider range of socioeconomic backgrounds, such as apprenticeships from local provider, reaching out to a graduate sourcing programme with candidates from lower socio economic programmes which supports them getting in with employers they might not otherwise have access to.
What’s your one piece of advice for younger people looking for a career in the IT sector?
My one piece of advice: Connect with people who are doing what you want to do on Linkedin or at an event etc, and ask to have a conversation with them about what their work life is like and any advice they can give. Also to look for an employer who visibly supports women and their careers in the tech space. Research is key, as one bad employer could put a talented person off a whole career - pick your employer with care. Fortunately for women, they are in high demand in the tech sector as they are still too scarce.