Women in Tech: Employee perspectives from Microsoft Partner Vitalyst

The following statement is not new—the statistics surrounding the gender inequalities in the tech industry are often bleak. According to an article published in Deloitte’s Insights, women in the United States make up about 47% of the labor force, but only 24% percent of positions in the technology industry. The emphasis on tech is due to its value and explosive expansion—according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is projected to” grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for other occupations”. Rapid job growth, coupled with an average salary almost double that of other careers, make jobs in this field highly desirable.

But change for women in tech is on the horizon. Our society has witnessed powerful movements that aim to address inequalities here in the United States. As one of Microsoft’s partners, we’re proud to be associated with an organization that has heard the calls for diversity and inclusion in the tech space and beyond and has acted. Their 2019 D&I report showed that globally, women’s representation at Microsoft has been on the rise since 2016. As of last year, women represent 37% of Microsoft’s company’s executives across the world, including three of the largest global markets —an admirable 13% over the average in the US. Microsoft also aims to help women outside of their workforce through philanthropy. They’ve launched a Female Founders Competition that awards  female lead enterprise startups and DigiGirlz, a youth program that gives young girls the opportunity to learn more about technology. At organizations big and small, work is underway to transform the tech world for women.

Making it personal: Women at Vitalyst share their thoughts on equality in tech

As one of Microsoft’s top adoption and solution partners, we here at Vitalyst echo their sentiments to foster and create opportunities for women in our line of business. When asked what equality in this space looks like, or should look like, our female employees had a variety of responses.  Kelly Houlihan, who has served for two years as Vitalyst’s Vice President of Sales and Account Management said simply, “Gender equality means diversity in thought, creativity, innovation, and expression”. Bernadette Courtright, Controller at Vitalyst for ten years shared similar thoughts, that equality means “embracing different thinking styles –irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.— and that relationship to an individual’s ability to learn, adapt, and solve problems.” And lastly, “To me, gender equality means two things” stated longtime employee, and current content development assistant Lauren Wicks, “pay equality, and equal respect as a professional”.

Taking steps toward change

Vitalyst has used what it has learned from its employees and acted to create equality in the workplace. Back in 2014, the percentage of women working at Vitalyst hovered around 26%. To address this, our organization implemented a Women’s Initiative that provides female coworkers the opportunity to network and support each other, personally and professionally. The group welcomes new female hires, gives women an internal support group, and even allowed women to cross connect with female coworkers in other departments. The Women’s Initiative has also participated in community philanthropy, and together with Vitalyst donated to a Breast Cancer Walk and Gala event.

Our organization has also “created a culture of diversity and inclusion by treating all employees equitably, recognizing performance and promoting based on merit,” says Houlihan. In terms of advancement, Wicks notes that “[we have done] a good job of pay equality since there seems to be a pretty transparent and straight forward system for assigning bonus payments. That allows me to assume that a similar system exists for pay raises”. Due to this merit-based system and company culture of improvement and inclusion, women at Vitalyst now occupy several leadership roles, including VP of Sales and Account Management, Controller, Manager of Microsoft Programs, Director of Customer Experience Group, and Manager of Branding and Visual Communications. Today, the number of women in our workforce has grown to 34%.

Looking ahead: The future of equality

The movement for equality in tech is picking up speed, thanks in part to the guidance of technology leaders like Microsoft. As for what the future holds and the best path to achieve equality, Kelly Houlihan shared some insightful parting thoughts. She said, “To truly leverage and embrace the power of being a professional woman, and advance the influence of women as leaders, we must recognize that every person needs contribute to the mission – women and men alike.  There is a tremendous opportunity to help develop the next generation of leaders to create a no limits work environment for women”.

Equality is for everyone. And it can’t wait.

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