International Women's Day: What are Colt and Digital Realty doing to Inspire Inclusion?
Industry Voices

International Women's Day: What are Colt and Digital Realty doing to Inspire Inclusion?

Colt, DR 2

Following 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

Catherine Leaver, Chief People Officer, Colt Technology Services

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

·In 2022, women made up 26% of the tech workforce. 56% of women leave the tech industry between ten and twenty years into their careers – double the rate of men. We need this to change

It is down to the industry to come together, to remove the barriers that stop women and other minority groups from progressing.

We know that people don’t fit into neat boxes when it comes to identity and so we ensure our approach is intersectional and that women from all walks of life feel included and part of this change.

We join forces across the industry with industry groups like the Change the Face Alliance, a group of tech companies including Vodafone, Meta, Nokia and Samsung collaborating to make the tech industry a more inclusive place.

At Colt, we know that diverse pools of talent provide diversity of thought and ideas, drive innovation and improve performance. Inclusivity creates a healthier work environment, boosts engagement, and makes people happier to be at Colt. And if our employees are happy, they deliver a great customer experience.

We’ve been rated top for Women on Boards in Capacity Magazine list

Our CEO, Keri Gilder, helped pioneer and develop the industry’s first inclusion and diversity scores with TM Forum.

Gender disparity remains a major issue across the telecoms industry. Everyone’s talking about it – but talk is cheap and we have to act now.

We’re very proud of our open, flexible company culture.

We invest in listening - engaging our Women+ network to understand what women need to thrive at Colt.

We invest in training and education; and we role model inclusive behaviours and values which drive psychological safety – the right to be yourself at work without fear of consequence.

These factors combined are helping us make in-roads in areas such as addressing gender disparity. We set also targets and hold ourselves accountable including for women at leadership levels

We know we still have a way to go, but we are improving, with initiatives such as communities and support networks – including our women’s network Women+@Colt; mentoring circles and our development series, Embrace your Best; our Rise Programme for underrepresented emerging talent; building inclusion into people processes, such as our Inclusive Recruitment programme; education and training, working to raise awareness of how bias can impact decision-making, with mandatory Conscious Inclusion training for all employees; a focus on wellbeing including Mental Health First Aiders and Menopause champions and domestic abuse support policy and inclusive policies such as parental leave.

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

Like many people I rather found myself in telecoms early in my career rather than making a purposeful choice to join the industry. What attracted me to that opportunity still stands true today – it is a fast-paced industry which is never dull, full of loads of opportunities to learn and make a real impact. Most importantly what we do has a profound impact on society, on how we live and work.

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

Don’t think twice, it is a fascinating sector with loads of opportunity to make an impact. The nature of the industry and work means you constantly learn, refresh your skills and grow. All while knowing you are shaping how we live and work.

Sue Jones, SVP Global Marketing, Digital Realty

What are you doing to inspire inclusion in telecoms at Digital Realty?

As a global business, inspiring inclusion is a fundamental aspect of our values and operations. Within our own organization, we’re intentional about building teams that mirror the rich diversity of our global connected customer communities. Since 2020, our DEI Council has been at the forefront, spearheading five Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which serve to promote diverse and inclusive cultures, and provide opportunities to collaborate and connect with a range of communities at Digital Realty. From our Women’s Leadership Forum and Veteran’s ERG to our LGBTQI+ community and Black ERG, we now have more than 600 members spanning North America, EMEA, and APAC.

There’s always more to be done, and I’m not sure we’ll ever hit a point where we take our foot off the gas. However, ultimately, I want every step we take to be moving forward, not backwards.

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

I’ve always had a strong affinity for technology, mainly because it can fundamentally change and improve the world we live in. My inspiration for diving into the technology industry all started with my father, who pointed me in the direction of IBM when I was still in school. Instead of going to university, I signed up to IBM’s apprenticeship programme, something I found to be extremely useful in terms of establishing a practical business skill set while also gaining industry qualifications. That was my first taste of marketing and technology more broadly. I loved, and still love, taking incredibly complex concepts, boiling them down to their purest form, and pushing them out into the world. I’m not sure that love will ever go away.

After IBM, I spent several years climbing the corporate ladder in several roles until I landed at Orange Business Services, where I was for 10 years. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, and I gained fantastic experience managing international teams, learning about the different cultures, and that every country is at a different phase of its technological development, something that is vitally important to be aware of when marketing across countries and diverse regions. In 2017, I joined Digital Realty, my first taste of data centres. I’ve not looked back since.

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

I’ve received some brilliant advice over the years, but the one that has honestly resonated with me the most is: believe in yourself. This is the advice that I continue to pass to women considering a role in technology today, and it’s something I tell my team as much as I can. They need to understand that they’re where they are for a reason and that they’re not an imposter. Retaining confidence in yourself is one of the most difficult things to do nowadays. It’s hard enough trying to progress and climb the corporate ladder without being pulled down by yourself of all people.

Pointing out the obvious here but believing in yourself and having confidence in your own abilities is much easier said than done. One of the things that helped me with this was getting a mentor. I’ve had a mentor at every business I’ve worked at. Asking someone to be your mentor can be intimidating, but I promise, nine times out of 10, the person you ask will accept.

It doesn’t need to be a formal arrangement. Look at a mentor as a trusted advisor; someone that’s there to be a soundboard, and, when needed, remind you of how brilliant you really are.

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