A personal story from Marissa Ellis on her inspiration to found Diversily and join the collaborative movement to increase diversity and inclusion in the tech sector.
Like millions of people working in tech today, diversity and inclusion was not on my radar.
I have had a very successful career as a minority female in the male dominated tech sector. I excelled in my work, was well supported, my voice was heard and I progressed up the career ladder rapidly. From my early days at lastminute.com, to my time as a consultant for Reuters and various stints at a number of a number of market leading software companies I established myself as a senior leader in tech who could be relied upon to deliver.
Then I was made redundant when I was three months pregnant.
I knew my world was about to change. Given the typical lead time in finding a job and my imminent break, rightly or wrongly, I didn’t feel that looking for a new permanent role was an option for me. So instead I took the bold move and set myself up as an independent consultant. I was very lucky to have an amazing network and a solid reputation. But it took courage, self belief and determination to build the successful consulting business I still run today.
Hats off to anyone who has managed the family/work juggle. It isn’t easy.
Post maternity women are struggling with lack of confidence or are being under utilised in more flexible roles, while their male peers are being promoted. Men are being paid more than women in similar roles. Children’s aspirations are being shaped by their gender and limited by the lack of diversity amongst role models. Expectations and attitudes towards working mothers and fathers are very different. The list goes on.
The gender gap most certainly is a problem.
Then we come to other inequalities due to race, age, disability or sexual orientation. The tech sector is dominated by white males because there are fewer barriers that get in the way of them entering into careers in tech and progressing into leadership roles. However, the evidence shows that more diverse businesses do better. As a sector we need to recognise that we need to intervene to give the underrepresented a chance.
This is not a minority issue. We all have a responsibility to take action. Diversity and Inclusion should be on everyone’s radar.
Was I just being naive and ignorant or did my industry let me down? Why did it take my own personal experiences to force me to reflect and understand the diversity landscape? Why when I was building up a huge array of business and technical skills was diversity and inclusion not a fundamental part of the mix?
We owe it to ourselves, our sector, our society and our children to change this. We need to educate everyone on the importance and benefits of diversity and we need to work together to give everyone a chance to contribute. We need to inject diversity and inclusion into our consciousness. In the same way as we have learnt to be eco friendly, it should be a consideration in all that we do.
Instead of taking the path of least resistance let’s challenge the status quo. Let’s be proactive in opening our eyes and opening up our sector. Let’s benefit from the skills and perspectives of a diverse workforce so that we can thrive together.
I am a glass half full kind of person who believes that together we can make the world a better place, starting with the technology sector. I created Diversily for people who share my vision, who believe in doing the right thing and are willing to take action.
Come on people.
The time is now.
Let’s do this!