We don’t like generalisations at iomart. Mainly because they tend not to be accurate. Not all techies like sci-fi. Not all British people love a queue. And switching it off and on again doesn’t always solve the issue (well, this one might be a little bit true).
Unfortunately though, some generalisations hold more than an element of truth. In our experience, one such example is that there aren’t enough women in tech, and certainly not enough industry leaders who are women.
The tech industry is still one of those that is playing catch-up. Clearly there are positive examples of businesses attempting to buck the trend but, as an industry, we still aren’t where we should be.
At iomart, we’ve been working really hard to bridge the gap, but we know we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We want to be accountable and are genuinely committed to doing something about it. That’s why, at the end of last year, we started working with a really special organisation called Empowering You.
Empowering You aims to build an empowered community of diverse, authentic and confident leaders who can deliver transformational change in their organisation, industry or country. Specifically, they do a lot of work to empower female leaders in the technology industry. So, they were a really good fit for what we want to achieve.
Our involvement began as sponsors in 2021 and it was inspiring seeing how women from different companies and areas of specialism came together on a project. Hopefully we’ll see at least some of them take advantage of future opportunities in leadership roles.
This year we sponsored the Empowering Women to Lead Cyber Security cohort in the London and Southern England region. And Four of our very own wonderful iomarteers were part of it. Kirsty Woodman was a speaker on the course, Lisa Mason and Rabia Rana were supporting iomart’s input and Charlene Butcher, technical support engineer at Cristie Data, actually went through it and is due to graduate at the start of December.
We asked Charlene to tell us about her experience as part of the cohort. This is what she told us.
“Before I first started this course, I thought that I was someone who didn’t have leadership abilities, someone who was reserved and lacked confidence. However, enrolling in, and completing, this program helped me to look at myself differently and start to see what other people see. Even just that process was incredibly empowering.
“This really was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have taken a huge amount from it, knowledge that I will use for years to come. The course leaders, Steve and Natalie, were amazing and really helped me to understand the qualities that I already had but maybe wasn’t using. They, together with my coach, Ruth, also weren’t afraid to push me outside of my comfort zone, making me question myself when I really didn’t want to.
“My favourite teaching moment during the course was when we analysed what it takes to be a leader and all the qualities that good leaders possess. As I said, I would never ordinarily identify myself as leader material. But when we broke down those qualities and looked at the building blocks that come together to make a good leader, I started to realise that I already had a lot of those blocks in place. It was incredibly empowering and gave me a huge confidence boost that I’ll be taking back to my day-to-day work.”
As well as the coaches and course leaders, Charlene also had high praise for her fellow participants and guest speakers.
“It was incredibly inspiring to be working with a group of such powerful women. We spoke openly about our vulnerabilities and it really made a difference. Seeing the progression they made along the way really was amazing.
“As if that wasn’t enough, the speakers that presented their life stories were truly inspirational. When I look at people in director roles or very high up the corporate ladder, I always think that they must be cut from a different cloth. I always expect them to be difficult to talk to, but nothing could have been further from the truth. And that helped show that there isn’t some special formula for success.
“This course has been amazing, and I’d highly recommend it to any women trying to reach their full potential, especially if they are in a tech-based role. Now it’s all about applying everything that I’ve learned – that’ll be the hard bit.”