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Takeaways from my first Grace Hopper celebration

  • Posted on November 2, 2016

Grace Hopper Celebration

I don’t consider myself a techie by any stretch of the imagination—but, the attendees of the world’s largest women in technology conference sure made me wish I were one.

This was my first time attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Houston, Texas, and the excitement of the conference left me optimistic for the future of women in tech. With 15,000 attendees, it’s their largest conference to date, and Avanade went big to attract potential candidates and strengthen our employer brand awareness as a top employer for women in the industry.

The splash that Avanade made as a Platinum Sponsor included one of the most visible booths at the conference, the most desirable swag (selfie sticks!) and the Avanade Innovation Lab team demoed the HoloLens to hundreds of people a day –  easily the hottest demonstrations at the entire conference. We also had some of our top leadership team, including CEO, Adam Warby, CMO, Stella Goulet, CHRLO, Stephen Kelly, Australia Region General Manager, Sarah Adam Gedge, North America Area President, Mick Slattery on hand to meet with candidates. On top of all that we also achieved a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD title for the most contributions to a computer program in 24 hours!

All of this made me proud to work for a company that’s passionate about reducing gender gaps, income gaps and technology gaps for women.

After conversing with brilliant women for three days a few things stood out for me, the first being comradery over competition. With the majority of attendees seeking internships or full time positions, you’d think there could be an air of competition… wrong. The supportive network created by this community was empowering – stories were shared, new friends were made and conversations were had around all topics from securing an internship, to personal and professional growth and development, to how delicious the afternoon ice cream treats were.

The next thing that stood out for me was that companies really do get it. From our Alliance partners, Microsoft and Accenture, to Google, Amazon, LinkedIn and Apple, today’s biggest companies understand the need for diversity in their corporations. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because they know that diverse teams lead to greater innovation and higher returns.

Lastly, the biggest takeaway for me is that the women in tech issue matters a lot–but the small gains that women are making globally to help the industry redefine itself as one of inclusion also matter, a lot. We’re in the process of rebuilding and reshaping a dominantly male culture in STEM careers that’s been around for years, so every step we make counts. At Avanade, we’ve established diversity recruiting metrics to help us focus on addressing the challenges we face in tech recruiting – including 25% women full time hires this year, 50% women internship hires and 30% campus hires. We’ve set diversity leadership goals to help us balance leadership teams around the world at all levels.

All in all, Grace Hopper 2016 left me in awe of the women today, young and old, who are breaking down barriers to pursue and excel in technology. So although I may not be a techie anytime soon, I am sure glad to be surrounded by so many of them every single day at Avanade.

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