March 28, 2023
Building a Community of Women Leaders
March is Women’s History Month — a month to reflect on the achievements and contributions made by women. Although we celebrate and uplift women all year long, we use this month to specifically shine light on the impact women are making on the rapidly growing IT industry.
In this article, we will highlight key themes from our most recent Women in Technology events.
Women in Technology Roundtables
Over the past four years, OST has hosted Women in Technology Roundtable events both virtually and in-person with leaders from all around the world in attendance. These events were created to build and connect a community of women leaders who can be vulnerable with each other, share experiences, and inspire and uplift the next generation of leaders.
This winter, we held a Women in Technology Roundtable event in Grand Rapids, MI and brought 12 professionals together to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face in their industries. The diverse group came from various backgrounds and areas of expertise, ranging from IT and technology, healthcare, food service, public entertainment, recreation and more.
Navigating Change: The Power of Why
Lisa Jilek, CEO of OST, led the discussion and set the stage for the topic of conversation — navigating and leading change. Post-COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have been forced to adopt new ways to operate. Remote work, digital communication, security and accessibility were just a few challenges named around the table. But how do we, as women leaders, manage and balance the rate of change?
We must start by asking questions. The power of why emphasizes the importance of seeking to understand the purpose behind actions and decisions. Being intentional and encouraging others to ask questions creates a strong culture of curiosity.
The power of why sets the table to be vulnerable. And that was reflected in the room at the OST roundtable. Several of the women leaders contributed to the conversation when the topic of vulnerability was brought up. One leader said, “Setting the tone to be vulnerable starts with you.”
Others shared their experiences of getting vulnerable in the workplace and suggested a couple of books that helped them along the way.
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
Dare to Delegate
Another key topic discussed at the event was delegation. Many of the women leaders agreed that women are less likely to delegate than men. One participant shared, “It is a way of empowerment that makes women feel aggressive and assertive.” Women are more likely to feel guilty about delegating tasks to subordinates, says research from Columbia Business School. So, they often take on the tasks themselves.
The group discussed the challenging transition from “do-er’s” to “leaders.” One woman shared her inspiring journey to helping each of her team members find their core strengths. She took the time to understand and analyze each member’s strengths, set up a project plan assigning key roles that aligned with each member and then watched her team succeed. Using encouraging phrases such as, “I trust you to get there” created trust and safety among the team.
“You as a leader cannot elevate, until you delegate” said one woman.
“Manage the process, and lead the people,” said another.
Double Down On Your Purpose
A common theme that emerged from this roundtable event was the need to find your purpose. “In times of uncertainty, double down on your purpose.” Discover what feeds your soul and remind yourself of it often because “uncertainty and possibility are first cousins.”
Help others find their spark and guide them towards ignition. Create a strong community and be vulnerable with each other. As minority leaders in their workforces, the group concluded that they must strive to support and empower each other and bring others along with them in the journey.
But it must start with yourself. “The way we talk to ourselves is the most important conversation we can have.”
OST: Celebrating and Uplifting Women in Leadership
At OST, we’re proud of our efforts to raise up the next generation of women leaders. 53% of OST’s employees identify as a woman. And over 75% of our Executive Leadership team is led by women. While our work in the technology industry has made moderate strides towards gender equality, we continue to acknowledge and work toward meaningful and sustainable progress. We look forward to hosting additional Women in Technology Roundtables in the future. If you’re interested in learning more about the event, reach out to us! We’d love to tell you more about it.
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