To celebrate International Women’s Day, we interviewed our President and COO, David Grant, and asked why equality was important to him and to businesses in general.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is part of a broader spectrum of making sure we constantly remind people across our business about the need to look at equality, remove bias and prejudice from the organisation, and promote the positives of having an integrated and inclusive workplace.
Why is it important to have a diverse workforce?
If I think of my own experience, it’s really important to have a balance of views and perspectives. Having a diverse leadership and executive team brings different thinking and a more stimulating environment. The most important thing, though, is to have the best people in the business, where background and profile isn’t relevant.
How can we address any inequalities in the business?
There are roles in the business where we have a close ratio of male and female employees – inside sales in the UK for example, where we have a 50/50 split between men and women. Here, the really important thing is that we are paying them the same for doing the same job – and we are. We have no gender pay gap in those roles. Equally, there are some roles in our business that, for whatever reason, aren’t so equally split, but it’s the industry norm.
What can we do to address inequalities?
There is a balance to be struck. Firstly, we need to celebrate any achievement by all our employees. But on International Women’s Day we should take the opportunity to promote the contribution that women make to our business, so we can continue to attract more women to our business. And people from a diverse background in general, because we should be looking to recruit from the broadest possible spectrum of candidates.
But ultimately it should come down to appointing the very best person for the role. I don’t believe we should be promoting unreasonable positive discrimination. We have an obligation to our customers, our vendors, our shareholders, and our existing employees to bring in the most talented individuals we can find. We are a very small employer compared to organisations like Microsoft and Cisco, who can attract a more diverse set of applicants because of their brand recognition.
What advice would you give to women looking at a career in IT?
First of all, our sector is changing. It’s now a much more attractive proposition than just boxes and devices. When we talk about software and channel models, it’s more about relationships rather than purely technical skills.
IT in general is now a more intellectually-stimulating industry, with a strong balance of roles and diversity in the channel today. As an example, Cisco’s global head of sales and global head of marketing are both women, as is the CEO of Mitel – who was previously CEO of Polycom. All roles that 5-10 years ago were all occupied by men.
Why is it important for us to recognise and celebrate IWD?
It’s a great way of promoting our overall policy and philosophy, and it demonstrates the way we want to run the business. It’s a great vehicle to promote the great achievements that have been driven by our female employees, at every level of the business.
It’s the perfect vehicle to helps us frame our equality and inclusiveness, and our drive for a more diverse and less prejudicial environment. And we do need to promote equality and diversity if we are going to continue to drive the right balance in our business, and recruit the best candidates.