During the EDS Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, Women in Electronics (WE) and ITA Group hosted a panel discussion featuring an incredible group of leaders. The session, "Building a Winning Team," was an engaging discussion featuring diversity and inclusion strategies. Industry leader panelists including Alan Bird of Arrow Electronics, Phil Gallagher of Avnet, Inc., Dave Doherty of Digi-Key Electronics, Eric Rushbrook of Amphenol PCD, and Bill Lowe of KEMET navigated a variety of topics covering the role of leadership in progressive strategies and proven practices for engaging employees and customers for future success.
Fueled by authenticity, courage and commitment, Women in Electronics (WE) is a community of progressive women leaders at all stages of their careers dedicated to the professional and personal leadership development of women in the fast-paced electronics industry.
It’s one thing to be part of a conversation and another to take the next step.
Bringing diversity, inclusion and engagement into your organization is paramount to succeeding in the future.
Inspiring Woman Today, Tomorrow and Beyond
Every industry can benefit from diversity and inclusion. Diverse thought and fostering new perspectives are the keys to innovation and success. As the industry transforms at an unprecedented rate, business leaders know that building an inclusive company culture is a winning strategy.
While panels and forums are not likely to solve the problems women face today (lack of women in leadership, pay inequity, unconscious bias, etc.), they are building blocks to the solution, which is all about awareness and education on the issues.
WE and their mission are inspiring other women seeking a better work environment and a better world. The stats prove it:
- Diverse teams embrace inclusive decision making, leading to better outcomes
- Teams with more than 50% women have a higher collective intelligence
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above (respective) national industry medians
- Companies with 30% women executives rake in as much as 6% points more in profits
- Boards with higher than average percentage of women outperformed those with fewer than average by 36%
But there are still systemic issues that need to be addressed before real change can be implemented. And it starts by keeping a few key things in mind.
Unconscious Bias Will Continue to Prevent Inclusion Unless It’s Recognized and Called Out
Diversity inside an organization, inclusion on teams and in the board room increases productivity. Studies have shown that diverse teams increase productivity by 19%. But a major problem preventing inclusion stems from unconscious bias. This is the irrational part of our brain that is hard wired to make decisions to protect the individual. But centuries of bad data are etched into our brain and many times we make bad/irrational decisions and somehow rationalize them. A key to inclusion is to recognize when you see/hear/feel unconscious bias—once you gain a talent for spotting it, you will see transformation begin. It’s OK to say, “We need more females on this team.” It’s OK to say, “We’re looking for a female to fill this role.” Without this direction unconscious bias can easily sweep through an organization.
We Rise By Lifting Up Others
Mentorship programs are a great way to connect with and engage women in this industry. According to a five-year University of Pennsylvania study, “mentees were promoted five times more frequently—and mentors, six times more often—than those who were not in the program.” However, it’s critical to understand that not everyone has equal access to mentorship. Men in particular must make a conscious effort to reach out to women for mentoring opportunities—or to welcome the request when they receive one.
Refusing to meet with women, for any reason, is taking us backwards and is a practice that needs to be abolished immediately.
But, mentoring is just the first level—it is even more important to sponsor (endorse, recommend, vouch) women into positions and projects. Research by Catalyst found that women who find mentors through formal programs receive about 50% more promotions than those who find mentors on their own. Find ways to sponsor others into new roles and challenges. It is only then that women will have the chance to shine and flourish in the workplace.
Change Is Not a Single Act—It’s a Habit
Engagement and motivation to continue working toward a diverse and inclusive culture is paramount to achieving behavior change. Engaged workers are more customer-focused and profitable, and less likely to leave their employer.
A study of professional services firms found that offices with engaged workers were over 40% more productive. What are people doing to transform? Perhaps consider, taking names off resumes when hiring. And don’t ask what their previous salary was.
Prior earning should not prescribe the salary for a role—the role should prescribe the earnings. Mandate a certain number of females or a ratio. Communicate the positive effects that a diversified team produces. Building these relationships can significantly increase retention. Using training sessions and discussions are a great place to start, here are a few additional ways to motivate your team.
Don’t Let Your Emotions Control You
Emotions are OK to share at work, but there is always a limit to how much emotion. Yes, it’s OK to cry; it’s OK to laugh—all within moderation and control. And don’t make a mistake, this is not gender specific. Emotions are human so we should all be OK with showing emotion. But remember, you’re at work and regardless of gender you have a reputation to establish and a brand to protect.
We all have a stake in providing women access to valuable professional opportunities and experiences, which are not only beneficial to current and future female professionals, but also to the businesses that provide them. Variety brings diversity of thought and experience to a team; plus, multiple studies have found that adding women to all-male teams leads to greater financial success. At ITA Group, we understand this and take a proactive approach to ensuring our organization is a place where women can thrive. In order to spark a wave of successful, capable female business leaders, we need to begin empowering them.
Looking for more ways to connect diversity and inclusion to business value? Check out our guide, The HR Professional’s Guide to Diversity and Inclusion.
Women in Electronics Stats You Need to Know: