Although women are gaining ground in information technology, the Chief Information Officer role in IT is still a male-dominated position. For this special episode of CXOTalk industry analyst, Michael Krigsman, speaks with two experienced IT leaders. The conversation explores Deloitte's recent report on female leaders in technology and gender diversity.

Kavitha Prabhakar is a principal with Deloitte Consulting. She is an experienced information technology professional with more than 20 years of professional consulting experience and a proven track record of delivering large, results-oriented, technology-enabled business transformations. She is a member of the Board Council, an advisory group for Deloitte’s Board of Directors, and she leads the Deloitte US CIO Program’s Women in Tech initiative.

Fumbi Chima is the Chief Information Officer for FOX Networks Group. In her role, she is responsible for delivering global leadership to technology and operations teams across 70 countries, changing the culture to one of innovation, accountability, transparency, interdependence and impact.

Transcript

Michael Krigsman: IT, information technology, and chief information officers, it's an important topic. But you know what's also equally important is the lack of gender diversity in this male-dominated profession. As a man, I feel like, well, I should probably be a woman hosting this show today, but I'm not. I'm a man, so we're going to go forward with two very, very interesting women to talk about this topic. I am Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. This is Episode #289.

Now, before I introduce our guests, I want you right this second to please invite your friend. Tell your friends, tell your parents, your colleagues to tune in and click the subscribe button on YouTube, the all-important subscribe button.

With that, I want to introduce our two really extraordinary guests. Kavitha Prabhakar is a principal with Deloitte Consulting. She has been researching this topic of gender diversity among CIOs. Kavitha, how are you? Thank you so much for taking time to be here today.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Hi, Michael. How are you? It's wonderful to be here today. I'll start with some brief introductions of myself. As you said, I'm Kavitha Prabhakar. I go by K.P., actually. I'm a principal at Deloitte, and Deloitte is a leading professional services firm that provides services across audit, tax, consulting, advisory. We are 85,000 people strong, $18.6 billion in revenue.

I've been a partner of this firm, actually grown up in the firm for the past 20 years. I serve clients across financial services and federal clients as well. I'm very excited to be here today to talk about this important topic.

By background, I'm a woman in technology and very proud to be one. I'm also a wife and mother of two children at 14 and 11. A little bit about me, Michael.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Kavitha. Fumbi Chima is the CIO of the Fox Network Group. Hi, Fumbi. Welcome to CxOTalk.

Fumbi Chima: Well, it's good evening for me over here since I'm in London this week. Thank you so much for inviting me over. It's a great excitement and interested to discuss this topic, obviously.

Ways of introduction about who I am, I'm obviously the CIO of Fox Network Group, otherwise known as FNG, which is basically the network business as part of the 21CF media conglomerate in the industry. We're probably in about 70 countries across the world, different channels all the way from the traditional broadcast stations to National Geographic and a few other international channels across the world.

I am also a technologist. My background, actually, from education, I didn't grow up in technology. I actually accidentally fell into technology after my accounting degree and status. I've been in the industry now for almost 20-plus years, 25 years. I've had several CIO roles, most recently Burberry, and before that was the regional CIO for Walmart Asia, so I have lived in Asia. I bring in a lot of global perspectives.

Much like Kavitha, as well I'm a mother of two. Luckily for me, two girls, so we're trailblazing and obviously trying to get an example for women and girls around STEAM and STEM.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Fantastic. Kavitha, let's start with you. You've been researching quite intensively, and you released a very interesting report on this topic of gender diversity in and among CIOs. Please, tell us about your research.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Absolutely, Michael. One of the things we did, Deloitte did, very recently, the Deloitte CIO program had their inaugural Executive Women in Technology event and forum. The focus of this was very much to bring leading women CIOs together to create a community for them to connect, network, learn, grow from each other, and really support one another.

We launched this research in concert with that inaugural event. The focus of this research was to really do some analysis on what's going on. This topic is pretty widely written about, for sure, the diversity topic

Michael Krigsman: IT, information technology, and chief information officers, it's an important topic. But you know what's also equally important is the lack of gender diversity in this male-dominated profession. As a man, I feel like, well, I should probably be a woman hosting this show today, but I'm not. I'm a man, so we're going to go forward with two very, very interesting women to talk about this topic. I am Michael Krigsman. I'm an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. This is Episode #289.

Now, before I introduce our guests, I want you right this second to please invite your friend. Tell your friends, tell your parents, your colleagues to tune in and click the subscribe button on YouTube, the all-important subscribe button.

With that, I want to introduce our two really extraordinary guests. Kavitha Prabhakar is a principal with Deloitte Consulting. She has been researching this topic of gender diversity among CIOs. Kavitha, how are you? Thank you so much for taking time to be here today.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Hi, Michael. How are you? It's wonderful to be here today. I'll start with some brief introductions of myself. As you said, I'm Kavitha Prabhakar. I go by K.P., actually. I'm a principal at Deloitte, and Deloitte is a leading professional services firm that provides services across audit, tax, consulting, advisory. We are 85,000 people strong, $18.6 billion in revenue.

I've been a partner of this firm, actually grown up in the firm for the past 20 years. I serve clients across financial services and federal clients as well. I'm very excited to be here today to talk about this important topic.

By background, I'm a woman in technology and very proud to be one. I'm also a wife and mother of two children at 14 and 11. A little bit about me, Michael.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Kavitha. Fumbi Chima is the CIO of the Fox Network Group. Hi, Fumbi. Welcome to CxOTalk.

Fumbi Chima: Well, it's good evening for me over here since I'm in London this week. Thank you so much for inviting me over. It's a great excitement and interested to discuss this topic, obviously.

Ways of introduction about who I am, I'm obviously the CIO of Fox Network Group, otherwise known as FNG, which is basically the network business as part of the 21CF media conglomerate in the industry. We're probably in about 70 countries across the world, different channels all the way from the traditional broadcast stations to National Geographic and a few other international channels across the world.

I am also a technologist. My background, actually, from education, I didn't grow up in technology. I actually accidentally fell into technology after my accounting degree and status. I've been in the industry now for almost 20-plus years, 25 years. I've had several CIO roles, most recently Burberry, and before that was the regional CIO for Walmart Asia, so I have lived in Asia. I bring in a lot of global perspectives.

Much like Kavitha, as well I'm a mother of two. Luckily for me, two girls, so we're trailblazing and obviously trying to get an example for women and girls around STEAM and STEM.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Fantastic. Kavitha, let's start with you. You've been researching quite intensively, and you released a very interesting report on this topic of gender diversity in and among CIOs. Please, tell us about your research.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Absolutely, Michael. One of the things we did, Deloitte did, very recently, the Deloitte CIO program had their inaugural Executive Women in Technology event and forum. The focus of this was very much to bring leading women CIOs together to create a community for them to connect, network, learn, grow from each other, and really support one another.

We launched this research in concert with that inaugural event. The focus of this research was to really do some analysis on what's going on. This topic is pretty widely written about, for sure, the diversity topic, especially in technology and gender diversity. But, our focus was to really zone into the positive side of this story. What is it that is happening that is causing women CIOs to be more successful than not? What are the leadership traits we're seeing in these women CIOs?

We interviewed four leading women CIOs, and we had many more at the executive forum as well. Our findings talk a lot about why this is an important issue, why we need to continue to focus on it, where the signs are of positivity in this story, and how we continue to inspire others as we move forward in moving this agenda. Those are the things. I could talk about preliminary findings in this research if that helps to get the conversation started, Michael.

Michael Krigsman: Yes, absolutely. You have a positive focus. I love that.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah.

Michael Krigsman: Yeah, please, tell us just briefly about the preliminary findings. Then we'll dive more into it.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Absolutely. I'll maybe focus on three things that I would say that this research and this paper is designed to communicate. I think the first thing is, in general, the C-suite looks like it's more welcoming to women technology leaders when compared to other functions like CEO or CFOs. If you look at women CIOs, they make up about 19% of U.S. top 1000 companies as opposed to CEOs at 6% and CFOs at around 12%. In general, the C-suite is welcoming to women technology leaders, so there's a positive story there.

The second thing is the focus on gender parity is not just about being fair. There is truly business value and competitive advantage to focusing on this issue. If you look at it, there's tremendous research that says, "When you have women in leadership positions, you have higher productivity." The companies truly outperform other firms. There are better team dynamics. Overall, financial performance is also excellent in such situations.

The third thing that I would say that research highlights and our paper highlights is, what are the qualities that women CIOs bring to the table? This one, Fumbi can talk a lot about, I'm sure. I loved the ones that came through: power of persuasion, power of influence. The willingness to take risks are higher in women leaders and in women CIOs, persisting after a failure and/or the ability to go deep on topics. These were some of the things we took away in our overall findings in our research.

Michael Krigsman: Fumbi, what is your takeaway, your interpretation as a CIO practitioner of this, as you listen to this research and, of course, you participated in it as well?

Fumbi Chima: Yeah. Michael, I think I completely agree with the three topics that Kavitha said. I think the third one really around having CIOs as women, there is that element of being a lot more inclusive, building, actually, future leaders. Not to compare it with the opposite sex, but there's that element of nurturing, right? That's really what I think we do a lot more. It's about the inclusiveness because we work along with a lot of adversities. We have to go through those challenges, so those life experiences, those professional experiences, we culminate everything into how we make decisions and how we bring people along.

For example, I think I started off saying to you that my experience, I didn't start from an engineering background. I was an accountant, then I moved into strategy and technology, and then worked my way through. I think, being able to see that bigger picture, being able to help kind of go through the challenges and going deep and across, I'm able to bring in just that, the diversity of thought and challenging status quo. I think that's what people are looking for. That's what organizations are looking for at the moment. I think that's where women, actually, do a lot better.

Michael Krigsman: Kavitha, you look like you're going to jump in there.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah. No, I think that's fantastic. The part that Fumbi hit on, which is, we also believe the research shows, Michael and Fumbi, that innovation is driven also from teams like this. Especially in the field of technology and disruptive technology all around, innovation thrives in such environments where gender diversity is a big factor of teams.

Fumbi Chima: Yes.

Kavitha Prabhakar: That's what I was going to add in.

Fumbi Chima: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. You talk about the innovation. I think we look at innovation as ways of doing things, whereas it's not stoic. It's not linear. It is actually dynamic, and we bake it into how we do things. I think that's why -- and we're not afraid to take risk, right? We take risk by where we are today. Yeah?

I've taken the risk of being able to have that seat at the table at the topmost technology roles. By virtue of that, we pass it back to the teams. I think that forges true teamwork. I think that's the positive outcome that we get through that.

Michael Krigsman: Risk-taking and challenging the status quo seems to be a very common thread there.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Absolutely.

Fumbi Chima: Yes.

Michael Krigsman: Why do women encourage that or what about women? What about this is different from having a less diverse team? Put it that way.

Fumbi Chima: I think, for me, taking risk is a virtue of who we are, right? I don't know whether I can put it in direct words, but I think part of it is that if you don't take risk, you don't know what the outcome is. We're not afraid to fail, right?

You live in a man's world. I mean technology is a man's world. It still is. I can count. I think, Kavitha, you mentioned 19%--

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: --of the industry are women at that CXO level or the CIO level. That's still fairly small.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: I'm actually very disappointed. We have to take those risks. We have to be bullish. I think sometimes people think -- they claim our bullishness and our risk-taking as being aggressive. I think it's a positive thing because, if you don't do that, we're actually not going to be able to make that difference.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah. I think there were two traits that we saw women outperform their male counterparts, Michael, and that's a willingness to take risk, but then persisting after a failure. It's taking risks and, as Fumbi said, there are some fast failures, more likely than not, but the ability to persist after failure is also something that we have seen our women technologists do better.

Michael Krigsman: I want to remind everybody that you are watching CxOTalk, and we are speaking with Fumbi Chima, who is the CIO of Fox Network Group and previously the CIO, Chief Information Officer, of Burberry; and Kavitha Prabhakar, who is a partner at Deloitte who has just completed a major research study on gender diversity among CIOs.

Fumbi, what are the challenges that a female CIO face?

Fumbi Chima: I don't know whether it's the challenges the CIO, a woman CIO faces because the role is not necessarily gender-specific. I think the CIOs, as a whole, the challenges that we face is around the evolving technologies that are upon us. Right now, we focus around digital and, really, what does that really mean, and how do you apply it into the business context?

I think, for us, if I don't bring it back into that whole gender piece, it's really about having the balance. It's having the balance because we go deep. We're very engaged. We're very involved. But, at the same time, you also have a different life, right?

For me, I'm a mother; I'm a wife. Right? I'm a sister; I'm a daughter. How do you bring all of that into yourself and also be very productive at work? I think men do it better than we do because they don't have those--with all due respect--the external responsibilities of, "I've got to go home and make dinner," or, "I don't go home and make dinner," but you have those spousal responsibilities because many of their spouses are probably at home and they have to deal with that.

And so, I think that's the challenge of, at that level, how do you place that balance? But, at the same time, earning the respect that you have in a room full of men and being able to hear your voice. Having that voice to speak to people and being heard, and not necessarily being talked over because we get a lot of those situations where people talk over you. You have to decide whether you want to be aggressive or assertive, actually--it's not aggressive--assertive around it to actually go, "You know what? I am speaking, and this is what I need to say, and you have to hear me even though there's 90% of you and there's only one of me." Having your voice heard.

Actually, Kavitha, you said it so well. Having that perseverance--

Kavitha Prabhakar: Mm-hmm.

Fumbi Chima: --doing it over time and time and time and time again. The other piece of it, I think, that many of us fail to do is we feel that we have to put 150% in, [laughter] into our work versus the other gender that probably puts in about half the time and still achieves, mostly because we feel like we have to prove ourselves twice as much.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah. I love how you shared those stories, Fumbi. They're very, very nice. I think this is a hard topic, and it's hard to really step back and go, what are the factors that create the lack of gender diversity in our environments and our organizations?

I think one of the things we looked into is this concept of a leaky pipe. One thing, Michael, that we noticed is how, as women progress in their technology careers or in their careers in general, but definitely this was focused on technology careers, we're losing them over time. I think 27% at entry-level is the representation and, as you go up levels to middle management, it falls down into the teens and, at the executive level, it's really the low teens at about 14%. The leaky pipe is a big challenge that we face in terms of how you continue to create enough people interested in this field and sustaining.

There are lots of factors that get to that, like Fumbi said. First of all, the number of women who are in technology-related education fields are lesser. Right there, right at the beginning, people pursuing this as an education platform is lesser. I always say something simple. If you have daughters, nieces, granddaughters, encourage them to think about an education or an interest in STEM because we've got to make the pipeline of women coming up in these fields stronger. That's, I think, extremely important.

Then, looking at the factors, like Fumbi said, women tend to be the primary care providers, so how can organizations take that dimension into account in their HR policies in flexible work schedules and really think about how you continue to retain women in the pipeline and keep them committed to it? Mentorship is yet another dimension we can talk more about, Michael, but there too, it's all about sustaining. As they enter, how do they sustain to keep in the pipeline and reach the top levels of the organization?

Fumbi Chima: I think that's a fair point. I think the other piece of it -- you say STEM, I say STEAM--

Kavitha Prabhakar: STEAM. [Laughter]

Fumbi Chima: --because you have to include the element of arts into it.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: I think sometimes we look at it that streamlined view of, they have to go through the engineering background or the computer sciences. What I also think that we need to really think is to think broader, right? In the pure operational roles, whether it's pure finance or HR or just general management, there's that rotation that goes around. I think, in technology, we've streamlined it so much that, first of all, the pipeline is so small.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah.

Fumbi Chima: The higher you go up the pyramid, there's very few to select from anyway, so how about us encouraging other people in other fields? I call them technology curious.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: Invite them to do assignments in here. We can actually help nurture them into technology, and they could be future leaders. Being a CIO, obviously the element of, you have to understand technology and have an appreciation for it. We can teach them that, right?

Being a CIO is ultimately about leadership and being able to have the vision, have strategy, have collaboration, and be able to lead. I think that's the bulk of it. That's that piece that we absolutely can encourage people and encourage future girls. We've coined technology to be such a boring thing. It's so exciting. How we create that excitement in this industry is what we need to look at.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. What do we do? How do we look at it?

I just want to remind everybody watching that there's a tweet chat taking place right now on Twitter using the hashtag #CxOTalk. Please join in and share your comments. You can ask questions of our two amazing guests.

Okay, so this begs the question then, what do we do? How do we address this problem?

Kavitha Prabhakar: I can start the conversation and Fumbi, I'm sure, will have a lot of great practical recommendations here. I believe the important thing to just recognize is the tone has to be set on the top. This has to become a business imperative. It can't be just about being fair. It cannot just be about HR policies. This truly is about the board and the management's agenda of every organization to have diversity and inclusion be part of their organization's mission and culture, overall. That's the first thing that comes to mind for me.

Then, holding your leaders accountable, right? How are you going to measure for this? How are you going to look at things like hiring goals for gender parity? How are you looking at pay gap between men and women? How are you ensuring retention? How do you make sure that women, high performing women, are making it to top levels of the organization and are being called upon to lead the organization when opportunities or roles become available?

Fumbi Chima: Mm-hmm.

Kavitha Prabhakar: I'll pause there to see what Fumbi has to add there.

Fumbi Chima: I'm nodding my head, right, because it's all the same thing that we say day in and day out. You're right on point. It's not about HR. It's not. It's about how you do it. It's the tone at the top.

I think also, though, other women have to bring other women along.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: Right? I think that's sometimes the hardest thing to do because sometimes I feel that we could end up being our own worst enemy. I tell you that, early in my career, I swore that I was never going to work for another woman boss [laughter] because, I look in hindsight, I realize that she was probably trying to groom me, but we didn't have the candid conversation around, "I'm being hard because I want you to be the best." I think she took a different approach.

I think we also, as women, have to kind of have a calling to make sure that when we do see those hidden gems, when we do see those talents, we need to put them under our wings. Sometimes it's not about the meritocracy. It's not about the promotions. It's about the support network because the reason that a lot of those women are leaving middle management after they have had the children, yes, HR policy can help support that, but we do not have a broader support network that helps you through experiences and talks about those challenges.

Now, you can have those candid, what I call, family time conversation and help them understand the experiences that you have gone through and that they will actually have to go through as well. Help them put it in perspective. I think that's the kind of things we really need to do.

Kavitha Prabhakar: One of my favorite quotes for me that I live by is, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." [Laughter]

Fumbi Chima: Yes. [Laughter]

Kavitha Prabhakar: It's absolutely something I cherish. It's a Madeleine Albright quote. I think we all absolutely need to do that, I think, if we can apply that and have that support, because we want to belong. We want to support one another and belong. Every individual wants that. When they feel that sense of belonging, they're able to work through the challenges and retention automatically improves.

Fumbi Chima: Absolutely. Yes. Yes, absolutely. The Madeleine Albright -- it haunts me every day when I see another woman and I realize, "What have I done for them?" You have to just continue to evangelize--

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: --the concept. Technology is a fun place to be. It was, it will, and it continues to be. It dominates our world today. I said I have a 16-year-old, or soon to be 16, and a 10-year-old. They live through technology, right? They live on their phones. They watch TV, not in the traditional TV we used to watch. They watch it on their phones. They're always tweeting. There's Snapchat. They educate me.

How do we bring that to the workplace and let people understand that being in technology is a great place to be and we actually make a difference because we are the enabler? We're such a fundamental to any business. We can either make or break any businesses. Even if you look at retail, women dominate, has the highest spending powers. How do we bring and change that, bringing that same thought process into technology and having women dominate?

We are the greatest inventors of all time, right? We need to tell those kinds of stories.

Michael Krigsman: One of the things that strike me is, Fumbi just mentioned that it's not always a meritocracy. We sort of idealize the business world that it is, but that very often it's things like support networks that come into play that can make the difference in helping somebody really advance their career. I've heard other women leaders on this show express similar thoughts. Maybe you can elaborate on that a little bit.

Fumbi Chima: Yeah. I think, if you enjoy what you do, and have the excitement, the challenge, the motivation, knowing that I'm able to fail, fail fast, support. The element about the reward, that's rewarding enough. Your reward through money or other means is just the icing on the cake.

I think what frustrates women, and if I can just speak very broadly about that, is just be fair. Okay? Be fair. If I deserve A, then give me A, but don't give me A minus five, whereas the other gender gets A coming in any way. That's what we're saying about meritocracy because I think part of it is that misconception that it's all about that. It's not. I have to have the support. I have to be able to have those conversations. I have to be able to know that my career progression is based on what I know, not because of my gender or my race.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah. I also think, Michael, this conversation, we have to invite men to the gender parity conversation absolutely equally as we invite women to it, right? In my mind, if I think about my sponsors during my career, I definitely had very strong women leaders. There also have been men leaders who have pulled me up. I use that phrase very purposefully. It is. You are being pulled up and, doing that, doing that for others and paying that forward, I think, is very important, very important as we approach this issue.

Fumbi Chima: When they make those decisions, especially for me, you have the conversation at the golf courses and the late-night drinks. But, as women, I'm not going to invite. I mean, how many times do we say, "Oh, well, let's go and have that conversation at the spa?" There's nothing wrong with it, but we just don't think that way, right? It needs to be okay for us to be able to do that.

Michael Krigsman: Specifically, then, what advice do you have? We should talk about advice, both for women who want to achieve in their careers, and for organizations who employ women, organizations that have a career path. Either way, advice for women and advice for corporations.

Kavitha Prabhakar: I think, with corporations, I won't rehash the point, but the tone at the top has to be something that the board and the management really, really focuses on, diversity and inclusion, and getting to the level that they find is acceptable. That has to be done by setting true goals.

We had a human capital survey recently, which talks about 76% believe it absolutely is important and is a competitive advantage to address this issue. But, only 6% tied compensation to diversity outcomes and gender parity outcomes. It's interesting. We have to give it teeth, right? We have to measure it, we have to goal people, and we have to tie compensation to these outcomes. Otherwise, the change doesn't come. That's one point I would say.

The other thing is to look at your process. Deloitte, we do blind resume reviews to remove any level of bias in assuming that this resume is a woman's resume and, therefore, not eligible or there's probably not a likelihood that she is a great programmer in Python. It is really looking at specific things in your flow to see what is it that you can do better, like resume reviews for instance. There's a lot we do around candidate screening.

We really look at gender pay gaps. There's attention in many companies today on that. One small change in technique, as an example that I'll give you, is we used to look at what someone coming in was earning before we made the offer as opposed to the marketplace value of that role and how much we should pay the individual. By doing so, we have stopped perpetuating the pay gap issue. We don't bring in women lower than men for the same role because it's about the role. Really looking at your flow, your entire flow of hiring, growth, retention, and really bringing that lens, I think, is extremely important from an organization perspective to address this issue.

Hopefully, I'm being tactical in some of this, Michael, to give people something to think about. Fumbi, before we go to women themselves, I would love your perspective.

Fumbi Chima: I think you're spot on there. But, I think, sometimes the key issues also start with recruitment. The only issue I think that we need to think carefully on is that when you do the blind resume screening, if the pipeline is small from the onset, you're not necessarily going to get all that feed into it. So, how do we deal with even getting the pipeline in the first place? I think that's where we need to challenge ourselves, challenge HR to actually go out and sometimes proactively seek people or candidates that may not look like us, feel like us, and have that diversity of both gender and race into the recruiting process.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: I think you talked about the HR process. There has to be a number. Is there accountability?

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: Well, both the HR process and also the leadership. I think what I found to be most successful for us is, to your point, you tie it to compensation. If you tie it to my bonus or my pay every year [laughter]--

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah.

Fumbi Chima: --it's amazing how it works, right?

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah.

Fumbi Chima: Yeah, absolutely, definitely, it's got to be at the top.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah.

Fumbi Chima: The tone has got to be at the top. But, it's not just about tone. It's about the action has got to be there.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Michael Krigsman: We have a question from Twitter. Maybe we can jump in here. It's from Elizabeth Shaw, who actually runs the @CxOTalk Twitter account. She asks, "How do we," namely women, "not alienate men in this discussion?"

Fumbi Chima: I think Kavitha said it very well, Michael. They've got to be in that conversation. They've got to be our allies. You can't do this without the men, so I think we've got to invite them to the table. They have to be absolutely and actively in that conversation.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: They've got to be our allies.

Kavitha Prabhakar: I think, Michael, the key there, and this is something I really passionately want to convey, this is not about just being fair, right? It makes business sense. It gives you competitive advantage.

When you look at when the makeup of organizations has women and women especially in leadership positions, they're known to outperform companies of similar size and scale by 25%, so 25% versus 11% - sorry. It is known it is a smart business move and, in order to do that, men and women both have to be enrolled. I really urge all of you to think about it from the context of what this brings to organizations.

Michael Krigsman: As you say, it's not just about being fair, but it's about the actual metrics, measurements, business results that arise, ultimately.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Exactly. The financial performance that this brings is known to be significantly different.

Michael Krigsman: That emerged very clearly in your research.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Correct. Absolutely.

Michael Krigsman: We have another comment from Twitter, from Sal Rasa, who says, "One view of diversity is to remove any practice that inhibits personal and professional development." He said, "That's a discussion that must include men."

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes. If I understand the point, yes, men have to be enrolled because it is, again, the professional development of women and women to become leaders of the organization and sustain in their careers need to be a business imperative, both for men and women equally.

Michael Krigsman: Now, we've got about seven, eight minutes left. We've spoken about the business value of diversity, and we've spoken about advice for organizations from HR all the way from the beginning of the recruitment pipeline going forward, advice to encourage diversity and retention of diverse employees. Now, what about advice for women at various stages of their career?

Fumbi Chima: Let me start through it because I am a practitioner of working my way up in that field. I think it's having the dreams and being able to talk about it and having the confidence to articulate what your aspiration is. I think sometimes women, we undersell what our true aspirations are.

I'll give you an example. I had a mentee a few years ago.

I said to her, "What's your aspiration?"

She's like, "Well, I'd like to be a leader."

I said, "What does that mean?"

It took us about three sessions for her to actually name it and say, "I actually want to be a CIO." [Laughter]

I asked her. I said, "Well, why did it take you so long?"

"Well, because I didn't want to come across too aggressive."

I think part of it is you have to tell people what you want to do. You have to have the aspiration, and you have to be able to articulate it. You have to be able to have some sort of skills or ability or competencies, understand where your gaps are, know where you need to get to, and have the help.

Whether you're plotting a chart to help you get there, whether you're seeking advice and mentors across, you have to be open. But, I think the first piece of it is you have to articulate your vision and what you want to get to. Then, part of it is seeking help and saying, "I want to get here in a realistic timeframe. How do I get to do that?" Then, people can actually help.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah. Very well said, Fumbi. I think being bold and courageous, not being afraid to ask, whether it's asking for help, asking for a role, really putting yourself out there. I will tell you, three years ago, Michael, if you had come to me and said, "K.P., I'd love for you to be live in this talk show," I would have said no. I would have totally said no. But, today, I am more confident about putting myself out there, having the courage to take that leap. I encourage all our women to do that and, as Fumbi said, ask for help because everybody around you is more willing to help than not because you have to assume positive intent in all people in and around you.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Confidence is this core attribute, having the intention, and then articulating that intention, which relies on having the confidence. What advice do you have for women who are more hesitant or reticent to express themselves and articulate their goals, their visions, as Fumbi was saying?

Fumbi Chima: For me, it's going to be difficult to give advice for those kinds of people because I need to understand what is causing them to hold back. Is it the culture? Is it fear? Not knowing what the root cause is, it's very difficult for me to provide advice on.

I think part of it, it's about being able to fail fast. If you fail fast but knowing that there's somebody holding you behind that's going to pick you up and you can move on, you have to have the trust. You just have to have the trust. You have to put yourself.

Kavitha said it very well. You have to put yourself out there and allowed to be vulnerable. Everybody probably knows I have two children by now. The whole world knows I have two children. You have to tell your personal experiences to people to encourage them.

That's a vulnerability that I probably wouldn't have done five, ten years ago. I didn't want anybody to know what my personal circumstances were because I felt like it was not anybody's business. But, I felt like the higher you go, people want to understand your personal experience and how it applies to them. If you can tell your story that way and give other people that encouragement, you actually will be able to get more people more open.

Without knowing what the situation is or circumstance is allowing them not to be as open, to me it's going to be very difficult to give a specific advice. But, my broad piece of it is you have to put yourself out there.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yeah. One more thing I'll add to that, Michael and Fumbi, is there was a point in my career where I had this shift in mindset, which is from winning and losing, winning or losing or failing, to winning and learning. When you reframe moments that are not perfect to learning rather than losing, I think it just changes your frame of mind and really helps you put yourself out there and take the chance. "Be bold. Be courageous. Stick with it," is the message that I will definitely share with women out there, women technologists, and also all the men who are supporting and rallying for us getting there.

Fumbi Chima: We have to thank them.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: The reality is, "Thank you," because we wouldn't be where we are if you weren't advocates.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Absolutely.

Fumbi Chima: We have to believe in ourselves, but also appreciate everybody else who has been around us. The majority of them have been men.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Yes.

Fumbi Chima: Whether they're men in your personal life as your spouses, or whether they're coaches or whatever, they've been a fundamental part of who we are. We cannot ignore that. It's not just a woman's world. It's a "we" world because this is a community. We have to be able to think about it that way.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. We have literally about a minute left, and so let me just ask each of you very quickly kind of a tweet-sized summing up of everything that you know. Kavitha, let me start with you. Sum up the essence of your research. What is the most important thing?

Kavitha Prabhakar: I think the most important thing, in my mind, is that women have the core leadership skills to be extremely successful in technology fields and, more so, this is a business imperative, gender parity, and not just about being fair.

Michael Krigsman: Great. I love it. Fumbi, it looks like you're going to have the last word here. As a CIO, a very experienced CIO practitioner and woman, what final advice, thought, or takeaway do you have that kind of sums up your entire life in a tweet? [Laughter]

Fumbi Chima: Be available to take the risk. Focus. You're going to fail; fail fast. Have the great support, but you have to have that courage. I think persistence is going to get you there. Go for it, ladies! We can all do it together.

Kavitha Prabhakar: [Laughter] Love it!

Michael Krigsman: I love it, too. Persistence, being relentless, and going for it. Wow! This has sure been a very, very, very fast 45 minutes. I want to thank our two amazing guests. Kavitha Prabhakar is a partner at Deloitte. Kavitha, I hope you'll come back and have this conversation more with us in the future.

Kavitha Prabhakar: Thank you.

Michael Krigsman: Fumbi Chima is the CIO of Fox Network Group. Previously, she was the CIO of Burberry. Fumbi, I hope, also, you will come back. Thank you for taking so much time to be here with us today.

Fumbi Chima: It's my pleasure. Thank you so much. Such an important topic.

Michael Krigsman: Everybody, thank you for watching. Once again, subscribe now on Facebook and go to CxOTalk.com. We have another amazing show next week. Thanks so much, everybody. Have a great day. Bye-bye.