Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives

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You will not receive KPMG subscription messages until you agree to the new policy. They also outperformed their male colleagues in areas of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, including empathy, flexibility, and sociability. They also had to learn how technology can help solve business challenges and to speak in terms of both business and IT. That experience shaped my future career in IT. Because of her pre-CIO background in finance and HR, technology expertise has not been as vital to her success as have business acumen and communication skills. They have to buy into your journey and strategy more than for many other C-suite roles.

Nallapati agreed that women bring a unique set of communication skills to the C-suite. She suggests that the ability to communicate and be empathic is needed to bring warmth to the often cold and mechanical world of IT.

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These communication skills can help women build successful relationships across the organization. Confidence and assertiveness, balanced with empathy and compassion, are other attributes that these leaders found invaluable on the path to CIO. At the same time, women are often more empathic and compassionate. Lagacy had to tap into a reservoir of self-confidence as she moved among various non-IT functional areas before becoming a CIO. The antidote is for women to surround themselves with people who have the skills and knowledge that they lack and not be afraid to ask questions. What is important is continuous learning and taking the initiative to find the answer.

Well-known business executives reap many benefits from clearly defining and cultivating their personal brands through networking, social media, speaking engagements, and media opportunities. A strong personal brand is valuable because it can be used to drive change in IT and business cultures, open career doors, improve relationships with key business stakeholders, and inspire teams.

A diverse new world: Markets, customers, ideas, and talent

The CIOs we interviewed all emphasized the importance of building an authentic personal brand that conveys real values, beliefs, behaviors, and sense of purpose. You still need to deliver. Gleaned from our interviews, these guidelines can help IT organizations turn aspirations for a diverse and inclusive IT culture into reality.

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The goal is to plug the leaks in the C-suite pipeline by creating a more diverse and inclusive organization, while simultaneously increasing the percentages of women technologists in the pipeline. Create more gender-diverse IT organizations. Companies can attract, hire, and retain female technology talent by removing gender biases from the hiring process through steps such as instituting blind resume reviews, eliminating gender-based wage gaps, creating gender-based hiring goals, and updating IT and HR policies that exclude or alienate women.

Examples include more family leave for both genders, childcare options, and more flexible work arrangements. A common practice for many IT organizations is to partner externally to engage the next generation of female technologists to study STEM in schools, improve their access to technologies and tools, create safe spaces where they can experiment with technologies and connect with others, and provide them with women role models and mentors.

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For example, Girls Who Code conducts intensive coding courses and many other programs for middle- and high-school girls. The CIOs we interviewed also emphasized that commitment to a diverse IT organization extended beyond gender to race, ethnicity, disability, and other protected statuses.

Build more inclusive IT cultures. In inclusive cultures, all employees are able to be authentic and thrive, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, or other characteristics. CIOs can create more hospitable environments by establishing ground rules that support equality and having zero tolerance for rule-breakers. This requires IT and HR leaders to commit to taking bias or harassment complaints seriously and fairly investigating and mitigating them.

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Managers and leaders may need to be retrained to evaluate staff that communicate, collaborate, and work in different ways. Shivanandan remembers observing talent reviews where women and men were treated differently for how they express emotion. Lagacy is proud of the steps that Caterpillar is taking at the corporate level to create a more inclusive culture. The company has recently introduced a course to educate male leaders, promote a more gender-inclusive culture, and specifically discuss the actions and behaviors that disadvantage and disengage a minority population of the workforce.

Caterpillar also instituted a flexible work environment that has received positive employee feedback. Authentic leadership is the hardest thing to do, but being an authentic leader is also the best thing you can be. Fill the management and leadership pipeline with high-performing women. A clear path for advancing and developing female talent can increase the opportunities for female representation in management, and eventually, in leadership. According to one study, women are promoted based on performance; men are promoted based on potential.

Mentoring can be critical. Recent research indicates that women can benefit from both mentors, whose role is to listen and advise, and sponsors, who have direct management experience and are willing to advocate for development and growth. Sponsors and mentors can help inspire, protect, and advance women technologists, giving them access to networks that many women lack.


As more women rise to leadership levels, they can in turn serve the next generation as mentors and sponsors. She is located in Chicago. She is located in Denver. She is located in Costa Mesa. She is located in San Francisco. For a more detailed analysis, see figure 4. For full sources, see endnote Caliper Corporation, The qualities that distinguish women leaders , , pp. Lecia Barker, Cynthia Mancha, and Catherine Ashcraft, What is the impact of gender diversity on technology business performance? All information from Fumbi Chima taken from phone interview, February 2, Breaking gender barriers , Davis-Ali, Advancing women technologists into positions of leadership , p.

Anthony Butterfield, and Jane D. Have the times changed? Pew Research Center, Women and leadership: Public says women are equally qualified, but barriers persist , January 14, Caliper Corporation, The qualities that distinguish women leaders , pp. All information from Suma Nallapati taken from phone interview, January 22, All information from Julie Lagacy taken from phone interview, January 25,

Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives
Insights: A Collection of Unique Perspectives

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