Is the channel still a boys’ club? According to the statistics, it is. This isn’t going unaddressed, though. More and more women-focused events are cropping up at channel conferences. Check the agenda of your next conference or event and you’ll likely find a breakout session or even a preconference aimed specifically at and for women. Whether it’s focused on purely networking or teaching women new ways to take on more leadership and initiative in their careers, these events are definitely great to attend.
At Baptie’s recent Channel Focus conference, the day before the conference proper was dedicated to a Women’s Leadership Council. There were panels and networking opportunities, leadership tips and mentoring sessions all day. It was fantastic. I enjoyed the chance to meet and even mentor my fellow women in the channel and share what I’ve learned.
I came away from Channel Focus thinking of the preconference Women’s Leadership Council Meeting more than anything else. Specifically, I thought of how much we are accomplishing now, in terms of helping women’s IT channel careers — and how much more we could be doing to help elevate them higher.
There’s been a big push in the last ten years to help women take more leadership positions. In the tech industry, there have definitely been efforts — Lean In groups meet over lunches and exchange tips on owning your career, STEM programs work to attract girls to science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as article upon article on the benefits of women in the C-suite.
And yet, here we are, still talking about how to make it happen. Progress is slow. We meet at lunches and talk about balancing work and family or women’s tendency to smooth things over and allow others to take credit for their ideas. We talk about how to negotiate these experiences as they occur, but not necessarily how to solve those problems for good. I often find myself thinking: Will talking about work-life balance again truly help us move forward to gender equity in the channel or workplace?
Here’s what I think will help break apart the monotony and truly start moving us forward: mentoring programs. At the Women’s Leadership Council Meeting, the leadership team started a new program called speed mentoring. It’s like speed dating but focused on empowerment in the workplace rather than awkward conversations about walking on the beach.
Mentorship programs can give younger women just getting started in their careers the support they need to make bigger, bolder moves than they might otherwise feel capable of making. Even well-established, high-powered career women can use the support mentoring provides to keep them going strong! Support systems consisting of women in all stages of their careers help propel movement truly forward. Talking about the struggles women face, addressing those in a positive, career-empowering way, and looking to the future will add more women as channel leaders. One-on-one and group opportunities to address and make positive changes, one woman’s career at a time, will change our field.
The channel is a great place to work, and younger workers are catching on to that. Let’s work together, generation to generation, to ensure it stays on course to a more equitable and fulfilling future.