There have been moments in my career where I’ve thought to myself, “Why is a client only asking me out for drinks?” As professional women, we often find ourselves asking questions we shouldn’t ever have to ask.
While I’ve overcome many such challenges, and I’m proud to be a senior-level woman in my practice, I’m still dismayed that there simply aren’t enough women in technology consulting.
I’m very lucky to have had some brilliant mentors throughout my career. But there was a point when I looked around and thought to myself, “Where are all the other women senior managers and managing directors in my peer group?” That’s when I realized I needed to establish my own informal mentorship program for women. And even though the uptake was small—there were only 10 of us—it became a vital forum for women to discuss workplace issues that only they could relate to. We had some interesting, open conversations about our experiences, and the effect was empowering.
Coming away from it all, the most important piece of advice I can give as a woman in a senior management role is not be scared to say, “I need a change.” Stand up and be firm when something’s not working for you. Having open discussions about the things that matter is the only way you’re going to get anything to change. And sometimes, as hard as it may be in a working environment, saying no is, in fact, the right thing to do. I’ve found that devising and putting into practice more grassroots solutions, such as the informal mentorship program, alongside official channels is key to making a difference.
I’ve seen diversity and inclusion evolve considerably during my time at Accenture. While gender and race are important, diversity of thought is equally vital. Diversity in ways of working. Diversity in the way we approach a problem. All really interesting, and just as important to a company’s, and an individual’s, success. It’s something I personally saw in action when I was teaching new analysts at our St. Charles, Illinois Learning Center over the summer. After observing our students for a while, we started grouping them differently according to what we saw as their individual strengths. It was a great learning experience for them, having to work with people who think so differently. In fact, we’ve started hiring that way as well.
Remember, at the end of the day, Accenture is all about solving complex problems. Problems that no one’s been able to solve before. It’s what’s kept me here for more than 10 years.
That doesn’t just include client problems or business challenges. It includes questions like, how can we put our policy into meaningful practice and create a workplace that is truly inclusive and diverse? What does that mean for different people? And how do we get diverse perspectives at the table and make them part of the conversation? We have the freedom to make our workplace better for everyone at Accenture. Our pledge to having a 50/50 gender-balanced workforce by 2025 is an example of that commitment in action.
That makes it an organization I’m proud to be part of.
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