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As the 2021 FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards ceremony approaches, it's important to acknowledge why such initiatives matter and what they strive to achieve.
Awards are not only an exciting way of celebrating and honouring accomplishments, they are much more. Women in Tech Awards are empowering tools for championing change. Such initiatives are a strong wake-up call for a consensus for a preferred future, a movement that aims to increase gender parity and give the same opportunities to all.
I used to regard awards only as an exciting way of celebrating accomplishments and narrowing the gender gap. Yet I missed seeing the whole picture. There are secondary aspects that might imply a legacy reservoir of contributions.
Awards are not here to resolve a problem but instead to inspire broader inclusion and diversity efforts, acknowledge women and men’s outstanding contributions, and celebrate their achievements.
“While it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure they point in a commendable direction.” James Branch Cabell
It is more important than ever to recognise that awards aren't only about efforts to close the gender gap. One of the greatest benefits is to demystify the long-standing image and pattern that tech is an industry only for men.
Not to be neglected, awards indeed provide a platform for showcasing the achievements of individuals who have made a vital contribution to equality in the workplace and beyond.
Taken altogether, it’s about an out-of-the-box approach in addressing a problem through celebration and positiveness. Instead of highlighting a problem, it emphasises the solution by bringing together talents, insights, networks and inspiration to support the tech sector.
I believe that there are authentic champions, true stories and real entities who do not seek their own promotion but the good of others. It is also about empowering women and men to do more to drive long-term protection, rights and opportunities. It’s about making everyone more mindful to be more inclusive and supportive with women in the workplace, to support retention and business performance.
In the everywoman Impact Report 2020, it stresses the fact that having access to role models, networking, learning and celebrating amazing talents are effective tools for empowering women to believe and reach their full professional potential.
Awards events play a pivotal role in shaping a better future for inspiring the next generation, working culture and society’s cultural norm as a whole. More than anything, they are a way of saying 'yes' to this movement of change towards a more equitable and inclusive society. Awards are like a 'gift' that celebrates the movement for equality and despite their name – they aren’t a competition.
Awards can encourage men to be great advocates or allies for women in tech, not only for gender imbalance but for changing attitudes too. Why? Because women may encounter various barriers and biases in the workplace due to the longstanding image and pattern that tech is an industry for men only.
Why would you be a female ally? It’s the right thing to do, to ensure equality and fairness.
Celebration has a lasting positive impact on diversity and fosters a societal culture (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2018). Moreover, it's about what direction is taken towards initiatives for attracting female talent within tech, empowering them to overcome an 'unentitled' mindset, career development barriers and achieving true professional potential. The latter is essential in the long term; hence reviewing women fairly, nurturing equal chances, ensuring equal pay, equal learning and professional development, mentorship opportunities and so on, all build a preferred future for the next generation.
There’s no place for saying that women are better than men; it’s about saying that there's a difference in terms of what values women can bring. Equally, it's about what barriers and biases women might encounter in the workplace due to the longstanding image and pattern that tech is an industry for men only. It is not about creating an advantage for women; it’s all about fairness, hearing and valuing those voices, treating them fairly and giving support as you would offer another male.
Efforts dedicated to incorporating gender equality are a common way of reducing bias, avoiding stigma and equally recognising that women are as valuable as men. Importantly, we’ve seen in the last few years that male allies are increasing their efforts to support a meaningful change.
Awards in tech are a change-maker that champion a preferred future, a future that promises equal opportunities not only for attracting women in tech but also for retaining them and ensuring long-term support.
Awards can sustain the movement for more women in tech by:
Equally important is that these awards also demonstrate an increasing number of companies who hire women and support them to go above and beyond; whether it's in empowering women to be authentic or in helping them to amplify their voices.
Awards are empowering tools that educate us about individuals and organisations that take initiatives. I applaud them. Even if we can’t fix the problem overnight, such initiatives signal a movement towards a preferred future - one that aims to increase gender parity and give the same opportunities to all.
It feels amazing to be part of a community that lifts and empowers women to do more, to achieve their full professional potential and to inspire others.
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