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Dialogues on diversity: barriers women face in the workplace

  • Posted on April 22, 2014

This is a guest blog post written by Avanade alum, Vikki Leach.

Let me tell you about the Avanade Dialogues on Diversity Program, which was launched in 2012 by the Global Diversity & Inclusion Team. These learning sessions around topics in diversity are offered three times each year.  To date, we have covered topics such as differences in generations in the workplace, sexual orientation, religion and cultural differences in the workplace and now today’s topic is “barriers women face in the workplace.” The sessions are designed to build awareness, promote learning and spark dialogue, getting all employees engaged in the discussion on building an all-inclusive work environment.

We had an amazing panel of senior leaders from Accenture and Avanade, along with three amazing women who are currently climbing the career ladder.  These particular colleagues of mine are currently taking part in the first-ever leadership program called the Avanade Accelerator Program for Women, specifically dedicated to identifying barriers and finding solutions within our company.  We are really lucky here as Avanade invests in a strong diversity and inclusion agenda, which enables us to deliver programs that support our quest of inclusion and equality.

On the panel, we had:

  • Nellie Borrero, the Managing Director for Inclusion & Diversity for Accenture.  Nellie is a highly respected executive and leader, recognized for her passion for inclusion and diversity.  A thought leader with deep global experience, Nellie works to raise awareness and increase understanding on the importance of embracing diversity.

  • Bernie Neville, from Avanade.  Bernie is our Chief Operating Officer for EALA.  In her role as COO, she is responsible for all business operations across EALA to achieve budgeted business performance and continued superior growth in the 14 EALA countries Avanade operates in.   Bernie has also been chairing the EALA Diversity Leadership team, and I’ve especially enjoyed working with her, as she is really supportive of gender diversity.

  • Rafat Naqvi is the Vice President of ITS for Avanade’s Enterprise Applications.  She leads a global team that delivers innovative solutions for Avanade, focusing on collaboration, business insight, CRM and custom applications.

  • Stephanie Rehm is a Group Manager at Avanade, in the legal counsel based in Germany. Stephanie has been a lawyer since 2006.  She has worked for Avanade since 2010 as Head of Legal for the ASG region.

  • Samantha Gibbs is a Group Manager from Avanade’s Canadian Central Business Development team. She has over 15 years of Business Development experience. She is a fanatic around driving the Power-of-3 message in her accounts and is recognized for her strength in relationship and team building skills.

  • Jieun Yoo is a Manager at Avanade, in Application Development, based in Japan.   She is just about to transfer to ERP.  Jieun has been with Avanade since 2006, and is in her second year as manager.  She is mainly involved in projects as a BA role.

I asked the panel questions about barriers women face, the role of women to address these barriers and what companies are doing to find solutions to these barriers, given their own experiences, thoughts and views. They talked about lots of different experiences and spoke of just how much research has been conducted with women across a variety of organizations in recent years, the most commonly reported barriers to women’s career advancement are:

  • Self-limiting Behaviors and Aspirations
  • Visibility and Networking
  • Juggling Work and Home Life
  • Inflexible Working Practices
  • Lack of Role Models as well as Sponsors and Mentors

It was a great event and I am so proud to be a team leader promoting Diversity and Inclusion at Avanade.

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