Thursday, March 30, 2023

Women Leading the Way: Navigating Tech Careers through Inclusive Work Culture

In recent years, the world has been paying closer attention to gender equality issues in various industries. In 2023, the United Nations Observance of International Women's Day highlighted the need to promote gender equality in the tech industry, with the theme "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality." It underlined the importance of ensuring that women have equal access to digital resources and opportunities and that this theme is practiced year-round.

Female leaders play a unique role in advancing this goal, as they can motivate and inspire other women in the industry. Companies like TELUS International Digital Solutions, the technology division of TELUS International Philippines, have implemented various programs and policies such as mentorship programs, tech-enabled flexible work arrangements, and transparent hiring practices, among others, that connect and support women to help them achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves.

Nalakumar “Nala” RS, Vice President of TELUS International Digital Solutions - Philippines, emphasized the role of a company’s work culture in promoting gender equality in the tech industry. “Our company's commitment to providing equal opportunities for women has led to a diverse workforce at all levels of the organization. This culture of promoting inclusivity drives innovation and contributes to building a more equitable and progressive industry.”

Women in Tech create safe spaces and balance

Female leaders in tech companies push this advocacy daily. TELUS International Digital Solutions’ Service Delivery Manager, Lodylyn Balsomo, described technology as a great equalizer. “By leveraging technology tools and advocating for support in the workplace, women can overcome challenges such as burnout, and balancing work and personal responsibilities,” she said.

Couple this with safe spaces deliberately cultivated by female leaders like Balsomo–who characterized her leadership style as one that emphasizes teamwork, open communication, and mutual respect. Balsomo added that the organization’s flexible working arrangements, mentorship programs, and transparent hiring practices help navigate the tech industry's fast-paced, high-pressure environment.

Empower women with their own career development

Lady Nila Balinas, Applications Development Technical Team Leader of TELUS International Digital Solutions, similarly advocates for providing fair opportunities for everyone in the IT industry. Managing four teams, including Talent Pool and Near Hire trainees, Balinas provides career planning, coaching, and training services to help team members grow and empower themselves.

Balinas, who has worked in the IT industry for 17 years, encourages team members to embody the values of dependability and integrity. She believes that being honest about capabilities, whether high or low, earns trust and respect from clients and team members. Balinas cited her own experience of first pitching her plans through so-called pillar projects, which became perpetual projects that enabled team members to practice other roles they might be interested in.

Women coach and champion other women

Maria Camille Cabrera, a Senior Software Quality Assurance Specialist at TELUS International Digital Solutions, reflected, “What does being a female leader at TELUS International Digital Solutions mean? It means developing not only our talents but also helping develop the talents of our fellow female team members. I tell them to be themselves, and bring their own set of approaches to help meet collective challenges.”

Female leaders can help champion products and services that meet the needs of women and girls, and address gender bias in technology design and development, which benefits the industry. Cabrera recalled a case: “In one of our projects, we all contributed to creating automation scripts which help teams monitor the downtime of the application. For this, I learned how to code using Cypress Framework. I shared the experience with my team and taught them how to code as well.”

As the tech field has long been perceived as male-dominated, the contribution of women in the industry needs to be shared more widely and consistently. With the growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion, women leaders have a significant role in attracting and retaining more women in the tech industry. As Balsomo said, “Let’s help change societal expectations around gender roles, and support men and women in creating an environment where women feel empowered to pursue careers and thrive in the tech industry.”

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