International Women's Day: What are Ericsson and Boldyn Networks doing to Inspire Inclusion?
Industry Voices

International Women's Day: What are Ericsson and Boldyn Networks doing to Inspire Inclusion?

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On 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

Katherine Ainley is CEO of Ericsson in the UK and Ireland.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Inspire Inclusion”. What are you doing to inspire inclusion in telecoms? What is your company doing? What could you do more of? 

The simple reality is that we must do more to promote and increase diversity in the tech and telecom sectors. A key challenge is recruiting from an existing limited talent pool, with typically only about 20% of engineering and computer science students being female. A grassroots approach is essential to encourage more women to pursue STEM subjects. This is the focus of our Connect to Learn programme, where we go into schools across the UK to encourage students to consider and study STEM subjects.

A shift in attitudes is also needed to realise that those outside STEM disciplines have so much to bring to the telecoms industry. I’m from a non-tech background. We need to embrace a variety of skills and backgrounds to drive innovative and creative thinking and ultimately create a brilliant industry to work in.

We also need to be vigilant in retaining and promoting diverse talent. Employees need a range of support mechanisms to flourish in workplaces. For example, offering flexible work policies helps employees who may be juggling work and home duties. Mentoring is also crucial, and our Ericsson Women’s Network organises open forums for discussing challenges women (and men!) may be facing and how to overcome them.

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

I didn’t start my career intending to work in telecoms, indeed my degree is in Government. However, I was attracted by the dynamism and variety offered in the telecoms industry, initially with BT and later with Ericsson. At Ericsson, our focus is on deploying 5G to revolutionise UK business and society, and the ability of the telecoms industry to enact create real societal change is the key reason which brought me to its doors.

Many different studies have shown that diversity is important for a myriad of reasons – not least because it enables us all to see problems and opportunities from varying perspectives. I feel 5G deployment could only be accelerated with the collaboration of diverse mindsets, as diversity breeds creativity which in turn breeds technological evolution.

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

As a mother of two daughters, I am keenly aware of the importance of role models in influencing our decisions. While the importance of strong role models in childhood is apparent, I also believe they hold a critical place throughout our careers.

Seeking strong sponsorship and mentorship is the one key piece of advice I would give to women considering a role in telecoms. Whether at the outset of your career or someone a few years down the line, there is much to be learned from others.

Finally, I would say embrace it. Every one of us has a voice and I know the telecoms industry will benefit from listening.

Jeannie Weaver is Boldyn Networks’ Chief Marketing Officer in the U.S.

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

I recently joined Boldyn Networks and was immediately impressed with the way the organization sought out information and expertise. It’s organically inclusive. It’s in the way the team approaches their work, informs decisions, and ultimately makes moves in the industry.    

We’ve set clear goals to ensure equal representation at the decision-making table, amplify underrepresented voices in our industry and foster an environment where everyone feels heard and valued. And our actions speak louder than our words – we created the ‘Bold Women’ program to bring women together, build allyship and strengthen collaboration across the business. It’s important to us and our future, that we build a workforce that’s representative of the societies we help so we can listen, learn and understand how to solve our customers’ problems in the smartest ways possible. And by creating a supportive ecosystem, we’re not just building a workforce, we’re nurturing a community.

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

There are 2 main ingredients in my personal make-up that inspired me to be part of the telecommunications industry. First, a real love of people and the growth that you experience from them and second, a curiosity, excitement, and fascination of what’s new and next in the world. 

Growing up in a military family, I have always craved, cultivated, and appreciated connections with people. Anytime I moved to a new city or state I would make it a point to extend myself, reach out and foster relationships with people. Along the years, I’ve kept many of those relationships going. 

The thing about the telecom industry is that it allows you to not only maintain and nurture those vital connections, but you also get to develop new ones with people even if you’ve never met face to face. 

Adding new technologies to our home was always such a treat, I was an early adopter before I even knew what that meant. From some of the first available personal computers to today’s AR/VR wearables—I am a fan!

This industry has continued to feed my love of people, connections, collaboration, and evolving technologies. I can’t believe I get to wake up and contribute to this every day!     

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

Bring your entire being to the party! It’s easy to “play our role” or “stay within the lines” but that harms you and the work. Our lives are rich with personal experiences, professional adventures and various roles and responsibilities—tap into all of it. People around you will grow and flourish because of all you contribute, and you will find incredible fulfilment for bringing your whole self to the party every day.

Go for the Moonshot!  Small incremental steps are safe (and boring). Moonshots inspire, and lead to giant leaps forward. Bet on yourself and the genius of others to slay the moonshot.

Ask, you can only be told No.  It’s really that simple. You are worth it; you deserve to have the request heard. The answer may be “no”, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask. 

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