IWD 2021 - gender parity needs male allyship, not male leadership

Profile picture for user Paul Smith By Paul Smith March 8, 2021 Audio mode
Paul Smith, President of EMEA at ServiceNow and Executive Sponsor of ServiceNow’s Women at Now group, discusses what it means to be a good ally.

Image of a group at work being led by women
(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay )

The push for gender parity is an ongoing battle - and there has been some positive progress of late. The percentage of women in tech rose from 17% to 20% in the last year, but this is still shockingly low.

We can't let small successes blind us to the progress we still need to make. The pandemic has made the cause of gender equality all the more important, with women disproportionately impacted by the social and economic effects of the pandemic.

It's a reminder that history won't automatically move in the direction of progress. We have to keep up the pressure, and keep pushing in the right direction, especially in the tech sector - one that is known for a lack of female representation. 

Challenging biases

As the father of two daughters, I never want to see my children face difficulties or prejudice because of their gender. And I know that change has to start with me. 

We all have blind spots to biases, but each and every one of us has to take the time and effort to identify those blind spots and do something about them. That means listening to the experiences of women, learning about the biases and microaggressions they face every day, and making sure we stand up and challenge these when we see them.

Men cannot, and should not,  own the conversation - but must help drive it. Part of that is simply just showing up: 96% of gender inclusion programmes are successful when men are involved; that number drops to 30% when they aren't. 

That's just one reason why I'm proud to be an Executive Sponsor of ServiceNow's Women at Now Group - to stand up and be counted as an ally, and to press for a more inclusive environment. Being an ally means showing up and listening, understanding and getting involved. Just part of this alone can help.

Diverse teams bring a whole host of benefits to our businesses. Different perspectives, skills, and backgrounds make companies more innovative, more considerate of differences, and better at problem solving.

In fact, a recent McKinsey report shows that companies with more than 30% of women executives are more likely to outperform companies with fewer or no women executives by a substantial 48%.

At ServiceNow we've increased women in leadership roles by nearly 8% in three years. This is progress but does need to accelerate. We've made a point to diversify our board of directors, which is now 30% women. The ServiceNow NextGen Programme has been set up to help reskill diverse groups of people, such as mothers returning to work from a career break. ServiceNow also has a belonging group, Women at Now, which is a community for women and allies to connect, inspire and engage in ‘courageous conversation'. We've still a way to go but we are on the right path.

Driving change together

Diversity is not just the right thing to do, it also just so happens to enrich our businesses. But words without actions are hollow, and we all have to put in work to get there.

At ServiceNow, we've made it our mission to make everyone feels they have a place at the table, can speak up without fear of judgement, and see that their voice is crucial to company development.

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are essential to how we grow and innovate as a company in the future. I'm looking forward to furthering change, so I can develop a more successful work environment - and a better future for my daughters. 

For more information on how ServiceNow is working to create energy, optimism, and space to belong for everyone, visit our Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging page.