Ai Allies – Gavriella Schuster
With 25 years of experience working for one of the largest businesses in the world and now acting as a leading figure in the fight to improve gender balance across the technology industry, Gavriella Schuster is well placed to discuss the key challenges that women face in the sector and what can be done to improve gender balance across the industry.
In her role as the Chairwomen of Artificial Solutions’ Advisory Board, Gavriella is working to implement the #BeCOME framework, which she has focused on implementing across a range of other businesses with the technology sector.
“I’m a former Corporate Vice President from Microsoft but recently left the organization to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in high tech. My focus and objective is to help to build a network of allies to create a more inclusive environment and culture that is accepting of diverse talent throughout the industry.”
Gavriella believes that creating personal allies within a working environment is critical for creating a strong culture that is both supportive and productive. Her #Allies campaign is a major driving factor of this belief and more companies are committing to the implementation of the #BeCOME and #Allies framework.
“To be an ally to somebody who may need personal and professional support, that means that you are recognizing that you have privilege and some power within an organization and you are willing to work with intention to confer that power to those around you. An ally is one who shares their power.”
The fundamental concept of Gavriella’s framework, is that allies need to be made within tech businesses and across the industry. The goal is to encourage women to reach out to others who they believe can support them and elevate their voice within a professional environment, especially if they are facing issues with recognition and validation.
“I have spent 30 years in high tech and things have actually gotten worse in relation to the the gender equity equation. In 1991, 36% of the computing workforce was made up of women, since then its now between 22% and 27% and so while the industry has really taken off, the percentage of women in the industry has declined. That is very troubling for me.”
“As every company become a tech company and as technology becomes ubiquitous, it’s problematic if women are not participating in the technology economy.”
As is now well known, a company that has greater diversity has better overall performance and so, there is a clear mandate for the tech industry to encourage and educate more women to enter the sector.
“Businesses are 22% more likely to be more profitable and to be more innovative, which allows tech businesses to build solutions that reflect the general population. This isn’t just a ‘women’ problem, this issue is impacting the bottom line of businesses so we need to see ally-ship with intention. That’s why it’s so important.”
One of the key issues facing the sector is a high drop-out rate amongst women, who no longer feel comfortable in their professional life, however, Gavriella believes that making allies in the workspace and having a certain mindset can help to mitigate this issue.
“Most men want to be allies, they just might not be aware that women face as many microaggressions as they do. If you’re in a meeting and you find that you are constantly being interrupted and you’re not being heard, then you should find somebody who is frequently in those same meetings who you feel you can trust.”
“That’s when you have a conversation where you can ask for support the next time you are interrupted or ignored. You’ll be amazed at how strongly you’ll be supported as soon as you ask for someone’s help.”
Gavriella is eager to support women at all levels of the industry and has created a number of resources to provide help and advice for women in tech.
Her e-book can be found here, and her recommended reads include ‘Empowering Women and how to Empower Women’, ‘Why Men Win at Work’ and ‘Good Guys’.
“There are also two amazing groups that I would encourage women to engage with. One is the Women in Technology Network and Women in Technology is also a valuable network to access. Finally, Wentors is a career matching service which helps women connect with senior women mentors.”
Gavriella is also a strong advocate of International Women’s Day and continues to see its relevance and importance.
“It gives us a chance to pause and reflect on the progress, or lack of progress, we have made. It reminds us all of what we need to do and what our commitments to action should be. I think the best way to drive change is through storytelling and so we need to use International Women’s Day to share the stories of successful women and what they have done.”
To connect with Gavriella, follow her on LinkedIn, here.