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Diversity – The Key to Innovation

Written by Elizabeth Vega, Global CEO of Informed Solutions

When I was first invited to sponsor the Women in IT Awards some years ago, I had no hesitation in choosing the Innovator of the Year category because it is the convergence of two key passions; innovation and diversity.  Only 16% of the IT industry is comprised of women.  With a critical skills shortage in the marketplace, it has never been more important that women leaders and the growing body of female talent in the Digital sector take every opportunity to actively support and champion cross-industry initiatives that help redress this lamentable gender imbalance.

Despite a growing body of evidence that workforce diversity produces better financial results, greater innovation, higher performing teams and more effective and satisfying workplaces, the gender disparity stubbornly persists.  Talented young women see token gestures and little real enticement to become the next generation of IT professionals.  It is therefore crucial that we showcase and celebrate success and the progress our industry is making.  This is why industry leading initiatives like the Women in IT Awards and successful female leaders and role models are so important.  We must work together to challenge the persisting barriers, cultural resistance and casual prejudices that disincentivise bright, talented females from following careers in our industry.

The huge impact of women in senior and board level positions across all sectors cannot be overstated.  It has been shown repeatedly that companies employing significant numbers of women at board level consistently outperform male dominated competitors.  For example, well reported figures from Catalyst indicate that companies with more women than men at board level had an average 42% greater return on sales, 53% better return on equity and 66% greater return on invested capital. The real challenge for women in leadership positions in our industry now is to visibly ‘walk the talk’ and to give other women a hand up..

At Informed we look to champion diversity at every level; within our culture, leadership values and working practices.  As a female CEO of a midsized scale-up business, I am personally invested in making sustainable our workplace diversity, investment in staff development and business performance.  Over 36% of our IT and Digital staff are female and these women are successful, motivated and happily coach and mentor others.  So, in 2016 some 57% of our new recruits were female.  This achievement is underpinned by a modern, egalitarian talent management framework that rewards all staff based on merit, ability, contribution and achievement.  Diversity makes us stronger, so we support and facilitate the ambitions of our staff through tailored, flexible career development plans because different people have different strengths and different ambitions in life.

Embracing diversity results in staff that feel valued, respected and deliver great business outcomes.  I was thrilled to be advised that our 2016 staff survey highlighted that 100% of our female staff believe that they are treated fairly and with respect;  100% feel that the contribution they make to their teams is recognised and valued;  and 100% of our female digital leaders believe that the skills development they receive is excellent and supports their career aims.

Informed is built upon the three key values of innovation, excellence and integrity.  It is integrity however that underpins all successful, valuable and enduring relationships.  Integrity in client relationships is expected but we must also have integrity in accepting differences and the way that we treat our own people.  The link between delivering innovation, having a diverse workforce and business success is to my mind immutable and everyone at Informed is proud to once again sponsor the Women in IT Innovator of the Year Award.

This post first appeared on the Informed Solutions blog here.

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