Representation and participation within a workforce matters, and as a community we should strive to pave a path for women in underrepresented roles and sectors so our future has a pipeline of women in leadership, is the view from Confluent vice president of solutions engineering for Asia Pacific, Jill Macmurchy (pictured below).

“Having women in senior leadership as role models is an important step to achieve equality in career progression and diverse workforces,” she told Retailbiz.

“Often unintentionally the majority group can set the culture of a company, which in male-dominated industries can make it difficult for women to excel. Reflecting on my own career, including my time at Confluent, I am fortunate there has been a focus on attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, as well as increasing the representation of women across teams.”

Having worked in technology specifically, Macmurchy stresses the need to acknowledge and address unconscious bias both individually and as a whole, to benchmark the value of diversity, inclusivity, and equality.

“Through this the next generation workforce can learn from previous insights and feel more confident to how they approach people-related decisions including recruitment, promotion, performance management and idea generation,” she said.

For Rackspace Technology managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Angeline Maronese (pictured below), breaking the bias starts with education, awareness and making a consistent effort to be conscious.

“I see it as a learned process, where you constantly need to be challenging yourself to consider whether what you are saying or seeing is displaying bias. In a lot of instances, it’s unconscious bias, where people are simply not aware they’re not being inclusive or fair,” she told Retailbiz.

“For this reason, the technology sector, which has largely been a male-dominated space, needs to make sure diversity is a priority within teams. It’s no secret that creating a work environment that embraces a diversity of experiences will empower people to be more open, curious and innovative.

“It translates to organisations growing, improving their bottom line and ultimately, having an engaged and inspired workforce. I’m proud to say at Rackspace Technology we have close to a 50% female leadership team and a diverse team of different perspectives, backgrounds and skills.”

Maronese believes there has been a massive shift in awareness of bias over the last five years, but it’s still important to go beyond just lip service when it comes to equality. She shares two ways to do this.

“The first is making sure we have visible female leaders to show the types of roles they can pursue and provide a safe ground for other women in the organisation to break into more and more senior roles. The second, and one that for me is extremely important, is mentorship. The support I have received from both male and female leaders has shaped the way I lead and has defined my responsibility to create a workplace that I would want my daughter or sons to work in.”

Cloudlfare head of solution engineering for Asia Pacific, Japan and China, Stephanie Barnett (pictured below) said she breaks the bias in the technology industry by showing up as her authentic self and diligently creating the safe space for those around her to do the same.

“I believe deeply that women shouldn’t have to mirror the behaviours of the men who have traditionally held senior leadership positions in order to be seen as a leader if that is not a representation of their true selves. If I’m going to be my best self in the workplace, I’ll be wearing my sneakers and bringing a lot of energy into the space, unapologetically,” she told Retailbiz.

“Unconscious bias isn’t something you can fix with a one-off training. It has to be an organisational mindset, ingrained in the company’s DNA, embodied in the values of each our employees and something that is embedded and vetted for extensively within the hiring process.”

When Barnett builds out her team at Cloudflare, she focuses on asking questions about what the candidate does to create an inclusive environment for everyone, and about their team—what their team looks like today, and what they want their team to look like in the future.

“If they’re super comfortable with the way things are and aren’t committed to making progress, they’re unlikely to join my team. Fundamentally, the success of Cloudflare is rooted in its global community. Diversity of thought, experience, race, gender, and beyond is critical to innovation and progress in this space,” she explained.

“If I want a swath of intelligent, strong women to join the technology industry, everyone in a leadership position needs to think differently about what great looks like, commit to investing in our next generation (not testing, investing) and throw down the net to elevate this huge pool of talent, fast. Organisations that aren’t fostering environments in which every team member feels empowered to contribute freely and equally risk falling behind and having enormous blind spots in their strategy.”

Icertis chief human resources officer, Pranali Save said it’s clear we still have huge inroads to make in removing bias from the industry.

“We’re battling hundreds of years of society’s view and ideologies ingrained in our unconscious bias and it will take a mammoth effort over a sustained period to shift the needle,” she said.

“At Icertis, we’re doing our bit to address unconscious bias in a number of ways. Primarily, we have introduced a training initiative to sensitise every employee, starting at the very top, to the pitfalls of unconscious bias. In addition, we have bi-annual remuneration checks on every employee to ensure equity across male and female Icertians and make proactive corrections where necessary.”