International Women's Day: What are BAI Communications and Zayo Group doing to Inspire Inclusion?
Industry Voices

International Women's Day: What are BAI Communications and Zayo Group doing to Inspire Inclusion?


Ahead of International Women's Day Capacity caught up with stakeholders across the connectivity industry to find out what their firms are doing to #InspireInclusion and learn more about their personal experiences in the world of telecoms and tech

Capacity will release interviews all week ahead of IWD 2024, on 8th March.

Elyssa Rollinson chief commercial officer, BAI Communications

This year's International Women's Day theme is "Inspire Inclusion." How are you and BAI Communications working towards this in the telecoms sector?

At BAI Communications, I've witnessed firsthand the transformative journey from a quite homogeneous culture to a more vibrant, diverse environment. It's a source of immense pride for me to see our evolution towards actively pursuing diversity. We take pride in the strides we've made toward gender diversity — with 50% of the direct reports to our CEO being women, and our commitment to leading our industry in eliminating gender pay gap. But our commitment extends beyond numbers; it's about fostering a culture where every employee feels valued, respected, and supported. We've established equitable parental leave policies and flexible working arrangements, ensuring that our team members do not have to choose between their careers and personal lives but can thrive in both.

What drew you to the telecoms industry, and how has this inspiration shaped your career?

My initial draw to the telecoms industry was the appeal of learning from exceptionally talented individuals, but what has kept me here is our culture and purpose. To me, connectivity is fundamental to our ability as individuals to work, play and travel. It's a cornerstone for growth and productivity across all industries and, in critical times, a life saver. This understanding, coupled with the dedication of our teams ensuring uninterrupted connectivity, is what inspires my passion and commitment to the telecoms industry.

What advice would you offer to women eyeing a career in telecoms or aspiring to climb the corporate ladder?

You can define the culture: Remember that you have the power to shape the culture around you. Be intentional in your hiring to cultivate the team and organisational culture you want to create.

Keep raising the average: Strive to build your team with members who excel beyond your own abilities and with different skillsets. Embracing a mix of skills, styles and experiences is essential for the growth of not only the organisation, but your team and yourself.

Be clear about your personal values: It's important to stay true to your personal values; for me, fostering a culture of collaboration and integrity not only makes the workplace enjoyable but also inspiring.

And finally, dare to step out of your comfort zone: even if it feels daunting at first. It's in these moments that you'll find your greatest strengths and opportunities for advancement.

Julie Tschida Brown, chief people and culture officer, Zayo Group

What are you doing to inspire inclusion in telecoms in your organisation? What is your company doing? What could you do more of?

At Zayo, we continually look for opportunities to empower employees and encourage them to connect and engage. Inclusion is a broad topic, but part of it is actively participating with others and actively being recognized as a participator. Within that, we urge everyone to bring their best to the table — there is power in varying perspectives. There is no one right answer, and when we build a team focused on honesty, respect and integrity, we can find the solutions that help us achieve our goals.

To help our employees connect and collaborate, we have six active employee resource groups, a popular group called zSquad to support integration of our dispersed teams (remote, in-office and hybrid employees), and a zCollaborate program that brings together in-office employees multiple times a month for fun activities. All of these strengthen and grow our dynamic culture.

Part of our Zayo culture is to be authentic and bring your full self to work every day. That means showing up, leaning in and supporting your coworkers in an environment of trust and inclusion. For us, that includes being sure that we are always transparent in our communication and supportive of employee well-being. In short, we strive to create an environment in which we can all live and speak our truth.

This year we are excited to launch a learning and development platform as well as a cadre of opportunities for employees. This is something that has been important to us for a long time, and we’re now able to give our teams access to a vast network of education and tools that will help each employee learn new skills and develop in areas they’re interested in. This investment in our employees will not only motivate Zayoites as individuals, but also strengthen teams and help us drive value for our customers.

What inspired you to join the telecoms industry? How has that initial inspiration impacted your career?

My career path to the telecom industry was non-traditional, starting in finance and parlaying to HR. I spent the majority of my career at technology and engineering companies and eventually found a home at Zayo. Along the way, I was involved with boards in a few different ways — as an advisor, as an executive and as a board member. With each role, I learned about governance and rules of engagement, and I became a technical expert in many areas. Those things collectively helped me grow as an executive and transition into my role at Zayo.

Through various roles in my career, my first step is always to learn the business. Deeply. I have learned to always be prepared to be a part of the solution, asking myself how I can add value by tackling problems holistically and providing proactive solutions. In close, it’s important to not only understand the business, but also bring big ideas and a growth mindset.

What would be your advice to women considering a role in telecoms or looking to move up the corporate ladder?

First, know that you don’t have to be in telecom currently to pursue a career in telecom. Your knowledge and your skills can move across industries if that’s where you want to go. Use your voice, know your worth, invest in yourself and believe in what you have to offer.

As a leader, remember people are watching you. They’re looking for role models, they’re looking for leaders who can help them grow and develop — so lead by example, be willing to lean in and teach, provide a broad perspective and also to give honest feedback. People are naturally curious and want to expand — they will grow if given the right setting and the right leadership.

Another key aspect, mentioned above, but foundational — is to really know the business you’re in. Invest the time to truly understand how your business works, how your product is monetized, where the risks are and who your industry peers are, and you’ll be set up for success. Knowing your business provides context that will help you solve problems rather than just accomplishing tasks. This is a mindset and behavior that you can model and pass on to your teams so you can move forward and succeed together.

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