On Tuesday, B&T put on an exclusive alumni breakfast for our Women Leading Tech Allstars in collaboration with 477 on Pitt Street by ISPT and Stone & Chalk.
Taking place on 477 on Pitt Street, the burgeoning tech central of Sydney, the event was the first step in our ongoing initiative to nurture a female-led community that will shape the tech industry for the better.
Between enjoying petal-adorned chia pudding and sipping coffee served in 100 per cent edible, vegan Good Edi™ cups, attendees were treated to an esteemed panel of speakers who tackled the question: is working from home working for women in tech?
Letitia Hope (ISPT’s partnership specialist) moderated the morning, joined by panellists Bridgette Slattery (Head of Strategic Marketing at Samsung ads), Sian Whitnall (Co-CEO at OMD) and Sharmyn Kayani (Solution Engineer at VMWare).
It was real questions, real talk, and really bloody impressive women.
1. Inflexible flexibility
The irony of flexibility is it can be an inflexible conversation. We often speak about flexibility in the context of working parents.
But others have the right to unquestioned work-life balance. Whitnall commented, “it’s everyone’s equitable privilege”.
2. Exposure matters
Slattery referred to the key factors of progression: performance, image and exposure. And of those, performance allegedly counts for only 10 per cent, while the majority factor is “exposure”.
Thus the “negatives of working from home might be missing out on exposure” as Slattery stated.
And, of course, finding mentors and establishing a support system or “pit crew” in the workplace is invaluable, as all panellists agreed.
3. Human connection
Of course, human connection is essential, but working from home and hybrid working has elicited unprecedented work-life balance for many of us. So what makes coming into the office worth it?
Whitnall commented that at OMD they make sure “when we’re coming together, we’re coming together for meaningful moments”. Slattery agreed organisations have the responsibility of “fostering that safe space”.
Nevertheless, Slattery attested, “the impetus is put on the company, but there needs to be some onus on the individual as well.”
In sum, employees shouldn’t underestimate the power of the relationships they forfeit working from home. At the same time, the convenience of staying at home has to be offset by an organisation’s ability to create an environment where people can be nurtured and grow.
4. Whitnall’s notion of “squiggly careers.”
Yes, being in the office lends itself to exposure and breeds organic conversations in a way that working at home arguably cannot. But the office environment does not inherently cultivate innovation.
As the idea of work evolves, organisations staying at the forefront should learn to embrace “squiggly careers”, as Whitnall terms it. At OMD, Whitnall holds herself to a KPI of “non-linear progression”, meaning “everyone has experience opportunities”.
Kayani mentioned that through initiatives such as VMWare’s “take one” incentive, employees could entertain skills that grow their set of interests via a “measure of experiencing but not committing completely”.
Basically, relax the idea of linear, upward mobility as the only quality of career progression, and allow employees to use the flexibility of hybrid working to explore latitudinal movement. It’s mutually beneficial: they’ll get to understand better where their passions lie, and you’ll foster a more robust talent pool.
Fuck it; you could even invent a new discipline entirely.
Overall, it was a marvellous morning filled with more laughter than we expected, given the weighty topic. And importantly, it was the start of many more essential conversations for women in tech to come in the next year.
Speaking of, the breakfast also marked the launch of our exciting new Women Leading Tech Mentorship Program, where we’ll be connecting aspiring women in tech with our fantastic network of Women Leading Tech.
If you are interested in being a mentor or mentee, keep an eye on your inbox for our imminent launch EDM.
No spoilers, but keep a lookout for more Women Leading Tech awards announcements to come… soon.
Thanks again to our wonderful hosts, 477 on Pitt Street by ISPT and Stone & Chalk.
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