In this ever changing world of technology, transformation is the new norm. Digital disruption is now a buzzword, and constant innovation and change is what will help companies survive. Nevertheless, regardless of the metamorphosis the industry is going through, there are some issues that will always remain pertinent. One such issue the industry is facing today is gender inclusive policies and diversity. Has the perception towards women in the industry changed as opposed to what it used to be before? Are women being trusted with more leadership roles? Yes, says Ms Sheenam Ohrie, Vice President, Enterprise, Data and Mobility Engineering, Dell Digital.
Highs, lows, success failure, the industry’s evolution towards digitization, Sheenam has seen it all as she made it towards the leadership role. “80% of the IT industry today understands the significance of diversity. The industry understands the need to have different kinds of talent from across genders or differently-abled people. However, what we are now as an industry moving towards is addressing subconscious bias. The focus is no longer on women but it is now on men and how they need to address any potential bias that may be holding against women,” says Sheenam.
Dell conducts a leader training program called Men Advocating Real Change (MARC). Over 400 Dell executives and senior leaders, including Michael Dell, have completed intensive MARC workshops wherein workplace dynamics – especially related to gender – have been discussed and the effects of their own unconscious biases have been addressed. Women are also participants of Dell’s MARC program, which enriches the discussion as leaders compare their personal perspectives.
Women, Career Breaks and Upskilling
Another issue that women face is taking long maternity leaves or breaks regarding family commitments that sometimes run into years. Therefore, often aspersions are cast on a woman and her capabilities when she wishes to return to her respective career. Sheenam says that maternity leave or any other break for that matter is very important and logical because women need to strive for a balance in their lives. Nevertheless, Sheenam has the following imperative advice for women on breaks:
- Women must upskill themselves, because in today’s day and era, technology changes every six months. What trends today doesn’t trend tomorrow.
- Thanks to technology, today there are various resources available wherein women can upskill themselves. There are several institutions offering online training so women can take two to three hours off in a week to skill themselves.
- Women need to keep their networks alive by constantly talking to people in the industry.
- It is always beneficial to keep ourselves abreast with the changes in the industry.
- Women could also keep themselves aligned with various institutes that are helping women restart their careers.
Career or Family: The Difficult Question that Women Often Face
Whether it is the technology or other industries, sometimes women are also caught up with the difficult question of whether to choose their careers or their families. Sheenam says to those women that they must choose what the right thing to do at the moment. “Choose your priority, and choose what makes you happy. Being a woman, you are central to the family’s ecosystem, so if you are unhappy, your entire family is unhappy. So if you are upset for not being able to take a break, go ahead and take a break and there are always ways through which you can come back when the time is right,” says Sheenam, stating her own personal experiences she has faced in her life.
Women Friendly Policies at Dell
Apart from disrupting the IT industry, technology has also come to the rescue of women. An employee’s location on the globe no longer prohibits them from serving their duty towards the company. Dell allows employees to leverage technology to work from anywhere and anytime. Women can always choose to work from home whenever the need arises, says Sheenam.
Dell also makes sure while hiring that women are always in the final round. Further to that, the hiring panel always has a woman role model who potential job candidates can look up to, she adds.
Dell also has various initiatives such as MARC and other mentor circle programs for women. And as far as new mothers are concerned, Dell has onsite crèches wherein employees can leave their children to be taken care of while they fulfill their commitments towards the company.
The Secret Behind Sheenam’s Success: Confidence
Sheenam has been in the industry for over 20 years now and her inspiring journey has seen all the highs and lows before she made it to the leadership level. “What made me tick is the fact that I never thought that I could not do something, or there was a challenge that I could not solve,” says Sheenam, while advising women to be confident of themselves. “Most women say I think I am, rather than I can and I am. You should believe in yourselves and keep yourselves abreast. Also, use networking as a conscious value chain. It doesn’t mean smoking and drinking, networking can also be over a cup of coffee,” says Sheenam, while expressing confidence in the fact that the number of women leaders will rise in the years to come.