Gender Equality and Women in Technology

Gender equality for women in technology can reap real benefits for companies. But how do you get more women in leadership roles in the technology industry?


Sep 19, 2019

The technology industry talks about gender equality but often does not follow through with action. Alicia Tillman, the Chief Marketing Officer of SAP, aims to change that.

To drive that change, Alicia looks at open positions across the business to make sure there is a fair gender balance when it comes to filling them. Gender equality also means creating communities for women to talk openly about challenges when trying to build diverse teams and how to invite men to the table to talk about diversity and inclusion. Importantly, diverse teams create a more innovative workplace, which just makes good business sense.

Alicia spends a good portion of her time at SAP mentoring women, building their confidence, and challenging them to apply for leadership roles that they are qualified for, even if they're not confident they're ready. Doing so is an important component of employee development and employee growth for women in tech.

Watch the video to hear Alicia's advice for women looking for upward mobility, and for men who want to help in creating opportunities for women to be leaders in business.


Alicia Tillman: In the technology industry itself, we do not have enough women. We have a challenge. The greatest way to solve that challenge is for people like myself to be supporting, advocating, and even placing women who truly deserve to be in leadership and making that happen.

I invest a significant amount of my time with that particular and also mentoring women, building confidence, going after positions that they believe they can be great at, but then also recommending women for roles that they might not think they are yet qualified for. I personally spend a lot of time there.

As a company, SAP has a goal in place, year-by-year, in terms of the number of women that we want to have in leadership positions. Until people naturally begin to understand the purpose and the importance of diversity and inclusion, we're going to put goals in place as a company to ensure that it does happen. Gender equality, women in leadership, we're very, very focused on.

How can business leaders improve opportunities for women in technology?

Alicia Tillman: One of the things that we've done at SAP is, we have a lot of employee networks. We have the Businesswomen's Network. This is a collection of women across the globe in SAP who come together and talk about issues that matter to women.

That's what I would say, number one, create communities where there is comfort. Sometimes people would say, "well, why do you need a women's community? That then segments women in a way that may seem unnatural." We've talked openly about the women's community about that and we've heard, time and time again, "No. We haven't achieved what we want to achieve from a gender equality standpoint," so to be able to come together as women and talk openly in a safe zone about what it's going to take and what we need to do differently, better, or how we need to invite men to the table to have the conversation with us, that's a really important thing to think about. That's what I would say is probably the most important thing.

The second, I would say, is looking more at yourself. What are you doing to personally help address challenges that we still have around gender equality?

I talked a moment ago about the investment of time I make in mentoring and really looking at the open positions we have across the business and making sure that there is a fair gender balance that exists. Promote the skills and bring the confidence to women in particular who may not think they're qualified and going after something even if you don't feel you're totally ready for it. Look inward at yourself as well in terms of what you're doing because that matters when people take personal accountability to drive the impact and the change.

What advice do you have for women in business?

Alicia Tillman: Build your confidence. Know what you're passionate about. Have a voice. Know what your strengths are and capitalize on them.

Far too often, I find women dwelling on things that they are not so great at and downplaying their strengths. With myself, how I've led, I focus a lot on where I'm good. It's not to say that I'm not focused on improving in a lot of ways, and I would give that same advice to women everywhere, but you just have to have the confidence in being able to share it some more as well.

Do you have advice for men on supporting women?

Alicia Tillman: Be part of the conversation with women. I can count so many men who gave me opportunities, opportunities when I might not have felt necessarily ready. Continue to advocate for women, support them, understand where they're really good, and make sure that you have a balance when there are open positions, not only as it relates to job promotion and job creation, but also when it comes to just sitting around a table. When you're making strategic decisions about the company, do you have women also part of that conversation as well?

That's what I would just ask men to think about when they go into the boardroom or they look at open positions. Make sure that there's a fair balance between men and women there because it will really take both of us, both men and women, to create the change that we want to create, as it relates to having more women in leadership across all of our businesses.

Michael Krigsman: Making conscious decisions.

Alicia Tillman: Absolutely.

Published Date: Sep 19, 2019

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 624