Celebrating Diversity in IT: The Women Steering Our SaaS Company Into the Future
March is known as Women’s History Month — the special time when we acknowledge and celebrate the role of women in U.S. history and bring that knowledge back home into our respective workplaces.
In recent years, the progress our society has made in speaking up for the rights of women, including women leaders, has been potent. But in fields like technology, the gender gap is still one of the most staggering. As of today, reports state that 48% of women in STEM jobs had experienced discrimination during hiring and promotion. Moreover, African American and Hispanic women with tech and science degrees experience the most severe drawbacks and are 40% less likely to be promoted to the position of manager. The information is disturbing since the U.S. steadily reports a higher amount of women with bachelor’s degrees (57%) than men.
For company CEOs, these numbers become a vigilant reminder of the still vulnerable place of women leaders in our society. It also becomes a matter of primary importance for CEOs, founders, and top management to uphold diversity and equality standards within their organizations and teams.
As the CEO of MightyCall, a SaaS company rated by Inc. as one of California’s fastest-growing private companies in 2021, I’ve seen firsthand how the innovative and challenging field of IT can become the perfect incubator for women leaders. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of women on our team has grown from 15% to 42%, and the number of women managers has rocketed from 0% to 50%. An organic process within the company, this has become possible not through “good on paper” company policies but through numerous opportunities for professional growth, a lack of bureaucracy, and equal respect towards the ideas and goals of each colleague.
Within our company, the result of diverse and all-inclusive leadership speaks for itself. That’s why today, I’d like to pass the word to some of the ladies steering our ship into the future. These are not only portraits of some of the fantastic women in our company, but personal experiences that can teach my colleagues in the STEM industry about the power of a diverse and inclusive talent pool.
Anna M., Product Manager. NPG’s ‘Women in IT’ silver medalist
Favorite woman in history: Rosalind Franklin
Motto: “Everything you can imagine is real” — Pablo Picasso
“I’ve been working at MightyCall since 2013, and in these years have served in a variety of roles. My first job in the company was as a technical writer. From there on, I shifted towards writing requirements for developers, became an analyst, and finally moved into my present role as Product Manager in 2016, only three years after my first steps in the company.
“There’s definitely a cliché scenario out there that IT is for men, and so is leadership. However, it’s also unfair to say there are no differences between men and women in the workplace. For one, women leaders often have to go an extra way to prove their authority– something that’s taken for granted by men.
“The more varied an ecosystem is, the more stable it is. In our company, I’ve seen how equal opportunities attract everyone, regardless of gender. I am confident that gender plays no ultimate role in a woman’s career as long as she is a professional in her field. The secret is to do work that captivates and transforms you — in that case, you can become successful in any field. At MightyCall, we have people from diverse backgrounds, both men and women, who’re passionate about what they’re doing. What we give everyone is a chance to develop their passion and ideas, and that’s what fosters diversity naturally.”
Anne N., CFO
Favorite woman in history: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Motto: “Everything that doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”
“My career journey has gone kind of like the classic Hollywood scenario — from the bottom of the career ladder all the way to the top. It started when, at 18 years of age, I began working as a courier in an IT company. A little later, I became an assistant accountant, then an accountant and a financier. At 25, I came to MightyCall where I became Financial Supervisor and finally, got promoted to Chief Financial Officer.
“When you’re a (non-tech) woman in IT, the first impression is that programmers or IT leaders will look down on you based on your gender. But throughout my experience in IT, I’ve been lucky to meet lots of tech specialists who were happy to explain a technical matter without brushing me off as a woman. In our company, I’m incredibly happy that I see more and more women involved in testing, product localization, UI/UX, etc. At the beginning of my career, there were just a couple of women holding IT management positions. Already back then, I loved how highly regarded their professional opinions were. It’s this high regard for professionalism that has allowed us to become a diverse and powerful team.
“The way I see the future of women leaders is a balance of smart and charismatic. I also see it as incredibly important to provide not only opportunities for vertical but horizontal growth for each employee, regardless of gender or background.”
Lana L., Marketing Lead
Favorite woman in history: Ella Fitzgerald
Motto: “The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up”– Mark Twain
“Marketing is an amazing profession that marries creativity, business skills, and common sense. You’re always doing something new, that’s why it’s never boring! In addition to marketing, I have a background in consulting and management. With my current focus on project management, these skills are of terrific help.
“Considering the number of projects we’re involved in, our marketing team is rather small. But for us, it’s quality, not quantity, that makes all the difference. Despite (or even because of) its small size, everyone on our team is incredibly professional, motivated, and devoted to our mutual goals. I love my team, and what has worked so well for us is to be open to hearing each other’s opinions, even if they’re vastly different. We treat each other with respect and love whenever a colleague improves, develops, and grows.
“I am convinced that leaders — whether male or female — need to remember that people are all different. Diversity comes naturally when we improve our leadership and communication skills but remain human and understanding towards each other.”
Olga C., HR Lead
Favorite woman in history: Elisabeth Gilbert
Motto: “The one who knows how to fight doesn’t need a sword” — Lao Tzu
“15 years ago, I came into IT almost by accident — and have since stayed for good. In addition to HR, I have several specialties including historian, psychologist, and coach. What I love about HR is that I get to use so many of my skills — from hiring to mediation, conflict management, motivation, and leadership coaching, on a daily basis.
“The future of leadership is female. But for our society to get there, it is important for women to learn to talk about their needs and ideas while remaining kind and strong. Many of the current female leaders I know have reached career heights through a great deal of struggle, an uphill battle with the patriarchy and with themselves. However, I don’t imagine next-generation women leaders as militant Amazons. I see them as a force of nature that flows freely and widely. To get there, women need to support each other, and leaders of all genders must monitor misogynic manifestations and prevent them.
“I found my way into MightyCall because I’ve always wanted to work in a flexible company. To be part of an environment where ideas are developed, not stuffed away into the closet, where there’s room for cross-functional teams, and employees are given both freedom and responsibility. Many companies declare this in their values, but few prove it in practice! At MightyCall, I saw a leadership style based on trust, free of stagnation and conservatism. As I have since discovered, this sparks not only diversity and inclusivity, but the creative spirit of the company, great teamwork, and rapid growth.”
Elli I., Developer
Favorite woman in history: Marie Curie
Motto: “If you want something you’ve never had you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” ― Thomas Jefferson
“I came to MightyCall as an intern in 2020, with no practical experience in web development. That was sure a hard year, with the pandemic, lockdowns, and remote work! But regardless of all those obstacles, I have learned a lot under the guidance of my managers and colleagues who guided me onto my present path in web development.
“There’s still a problem in our field about ‘IT not being a woman’s business’ but I’m glad that our company is breaking down these walls. I constantly see how colleagues not just on my team, but in various departments are extremely eager to help out and answer my questions without any hint of bias.
“I think that to advocate the popularity of women in IT, it’s really important for us to be given as much faith in our abilities, motivation, and attention from more experienced colleagues, as male colleagues have been used to. Women are incredible learners, and with the right support, they can move mountains. I’ve seen this happen in our company, and if we can do it, so can every team that’s dedicated to their employees’ growth.”
Diversity is unity. The unity of ideas, the unity of minds, the unity of talent despite gender, culture, background, or any other differences. As we may see through the personal words of our women at MightyCall, cultivating diversity is not just about unprejudiced hiring or promotion decisions. It’s about starting at the root: diving into the talent pool and providing talented young women with practical development opportunities, mentorship, and an example of leadership based on trust. Such is the environment that fosters amazing women leaders of the future.
2021 has already started out as a year of radical change for many businesses. I believe it is also high time for a radical shift towards diversity and equality in STEM companies. Like every transformation, this shift must start from the head — company CEOs and leaders encouraging a broad and free exchange of learning and ideas that is constantly prized and encouraged.
Through our own experience, our company has seen that the best way to erase the gender gap is to eliminate it completely from our mindset. In an environment that thrives on professionalism, creativity, and respect, there is no place for bias. And gender is merely an occasion to give our wonderful ladies another round of applause they deserve this Women’s History Month.