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How Avanade people are breaking the bias for International Women’s Day

  • Posted on March 7, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

As part of the Avanade team, I am proud to not only be our CFO, but also have the privilege and important responsibility of serving as the Executive Sponsor for our Women’s Employee Network.  I had several sponsors, mentors and peers (men and women) who coached me, advised me and gave me a bit of tough love along my career journey, and I take a lot of pride in the time I spend individually with others as a coach or mentor. I see this role as another, broader way to give back. 

International Women’s Day is a day for celebrating women's social, economic, cultural and political achievements. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality and parity, which is not only a fundamental human right but a necessary foundation for a sustainable world. It is important to understand that equality for women does not mean less equality for men. Women and Men both have a part to play in advancing gender parity. Advocacy, inclusive mindsets, and tangible actions are needed from all. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #BreakTheBias.  What does that mean for us in Avanade and how are we addressing this? Continue reading for some insights from people across Avanade. 

Linda Linhong, Greater China Country Manager, Shanghai 

Bias exists everywhere consciously and unconsciously. In Greater China, we might face biased conduct, behaviors and are treated differently because of age, gender, educational background, marital and parental status, home origin, nature of work, job seniority, etc.  

As an employer, #BreakTheBias means we treat people fairly and equally no matter who they are, what job they do or where they came from. Being open and inclusive to every single voice, as we believe many drops of water make an ocean and everyone, makes a difference. Listening, understanding and empathy are important. Try to understand who is different from us, try to learn who brings a different perspective to us.  

The world is more beautiful with lots of colors, and our company becomes stronger with diversity. 

Julia Heseltine, Advanced Analytics, Chicago 

The phrase #BreakTheBias means so many different things to me. Growing up in a small farm town, I was not around many different people from preschool to high school. I quickly realized once I moved how tunnel-visioned my views and opinions and experiences were due to the close-knit circle I grew up in. I knew I was the only person who could change my outlook and redefine who I am and what I believe in.

I made it my personal mission to take the first few years of my early-staged career to dive into tough topics, learn from others’ experiences and challenge myself to think differently. I looked, and am always still looking, for opportunities to immerse myself in groups, projects, or work overall that not only challenges me intellectually but specifically in the way I think and view certain topics. This is how I have been able to begin to break my own biases and help others break their biases too. 

I am hopeful that I can continue to break down my biases but also know that I will never be able to eliminate them completely. People learn, change and grow throughout their lifetime. With this continual change our perspectives, opinions and experiences all change as well, ultimately altering our biases. I used to get discouraged that I could never “fix all my biases” but instead, now I see it as a forever challenge and a constant reminder to keep pushing myself to learn about myself and most importantly from others around me. 

Mirjam van Olst, Business Applications Talent Lead, Utrecht 

It's interesting to me that we have all these groups of people that we define. Based on gender, but also based on religion, skin color, sexual orientation or favorite football club. But if you think about it, there are at least as many differences between people within these groups, as there are between the groups. Defining people by groups and applying biases on them based on those groups is just being too lazy to look at individual people. We're missing out when we do that. 

When we do it to others, we're missing being able to see who they really are. But we also do it to ourselves, and because of it, we're missing opportunities to experience cool things and learn new skills. 

#BreakTheBias to me is about being able to try anything that interests me. To learn new things, and not let stereotypes decide whether I should try them or be any good at them. The more someone tells me I shouldn't do something the more stubborn I become about both trying and succeeding.  

When you're about to give up on an experience, or even a task, stop and challenge yourself. What's making you say "no"? You can do a LOT more than you think. 

Pauline Wilkinson, Business Human Resources, Melbourne 


#BreakTheBias means being more intentional with my own thoughts and actions, slowing down to make decisions based on fact rather than past assumptions or unconscious bias. It also means to continue to be curious and take an opportunity to learn more about what I don’t know instead of making some assumptions. I’ll like to continue promoting and creating more opportunities for women in the workplace and celebrating their successes and spotlighting their contributions as we emerge from the pandemic.  

Jonathan Summers, Business Operations, Dallas 

To me, breaking the bias means shedding our preconceived notions of what people can do. As an example, software engineering has long been a male-centric profession to the point where women in it feel lesser or maligned when they speak up or give direction. It’s important for our leaders to intervene and give our people – all our people – an opportunity to succeed on their merits. Speaking up and taking action is critical – nothing is more impactful than when our leaders lead from the front and address inequity head-on.  

Mehwish Khan, Business Management, Chicago 

“The eyes see only what the mind is prepared to comprehend” - Henri Bergson  

As an immigrant and South-Asian woman, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the level of cultural dissonance around me. What are the expectations of me, how do I find balance, where do I truly belong? Biases can also live inside of us about our own selves, which lowers our self-confidence. For me, #BreakTheBias simply means to pave your OWN way, to embrace our unique self, and ask – what do I want to do, and surround myself with a support system that listens and helps me achieve my full potential.  

Our Inclusion and Diversity vision is to strive to be recognized as one of the most inclusive organizations in the world.  As a company, we are fully committed to achieving gender parity across our organization and throughout the world, and we’re working every day to #BreakTheBias.  

How do you #BreakTheBias? Let us know in the comments. 

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