Diversity & Inclusion are keys to succes
30 April 2019, Astrid van Heumen Corporate Casting, the Netherlands
Last week I had the great pleasure to join an all female entrepreneur trade mission organized by TEDxAmsterdamWomen and Facebook Amsterdam to San Francisco. Imagine the energy and enthusiasm, a troop of 35 amazing, talented and ambitious women from Amsterdam, held in stock while exploring bravely a whole new world and field of expertise together.
Some are leading corporate ladies other modest however adventurous female entrepreneurs as myself. All these women have an appetite for success and are on a mission; to find out ‘what is next after next.’ And how to adept, adopt and improve within the new unstoppable development of tech inventions, innovations and new global players.
We all were aware of artificial intelligence, machine learning and block chain. Back on our return we have more ‘first hand’ understanding of the impact and see as expected plenty opportunities and future challenges.
We deep-dived thrilled and curious into the unknown, the so-called natural and exotic habitat of South Park and Silicon Valley. To meet the special ‘species’ the soon adapters and those who truly understand the language, the opportunities and the behaviour of 0’s and 1’s .
A world where daily — even multiple times a day — new boundaries are found, pushed and crossed. Where disruption and agility are the new norm and where amazing new realities are realized.
To know the unknown, challenge the common practice and go far beyond. Give it all to the people, to the world is the credo. And all this tremendous ambition formulates in pitch-books, ‘learn and earn’ presentations and all in the well-known non-conformist, easy going and super-friendly pose.
Remarks of the likes; ‘just be your authentic self’ and ‘say yes to potential’ and ‘just create your own opportunities’ are very appealing one-liners to us ambitious, experienced women. In short: ‘everything is still possible, you just need to do it. All this is very inspiring, challenging and tempting. Yes, we ‘Sisters’ should to go for it!
A short reminder. Do it the American way, positive, opportunistic and amazingly without any hesitation. This realisation created a multiple flow, a momentum that seduces us as a group to reset our existing mind-set and dreams. So curious we all are to find out what the result of these adventurous and ambitious thoughts are going to be, in a year from now. Sometimes in life you get opportunities presented on a silver plate, I will do the utmost to make it all happen.
It sounds almost like a ‘make believe fairy tale’, but the reality shown on the stock markets proofs once again that early, calculated risk appetite is a solid business-model. Where is the catch?
Interesting enough there was a huge common interest where we as European women can share our knowledge and experiences too. Rather surprised we were to find out some of the harsh reality of Silicon Valley regarding the diversity agenda. During this week’s discussions and debates we realized that however agile and disruptive the business community is, here as much as in the `Netherlands, the female factor is still worth to fight a fierce battle.
The glass ceiling is one to break and that battle might be won as most of us experienced. The next to overcome is the realistic danger of ‘the glass cliff’.
Frankly this means that when a talented and fearless leading lady with stamina is broken through the glass ceiling and finally is appointed for the long longed executive role, the company might be in trouble or worse. There a many examples that show that women are appointed to the role of CEO, no man would consider take. An example often referred to is a courageous lady like Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo as well as poor ‘Brexit’ Theressa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
For the female entrepreneurs, the reality in the digital business world is even more challenging. VC money is everywhere and fund-managers are looking permanently for the next success formula to scale up and with IPO-potential. Surprisingly however is to find out that even in the relatively young world of the latest and the new tech giants, there is hardly airtime on the stage for ambitious and adventurous female entrepreneurs. Just a few investors with a healthy risk appetite and a good eye for talented ladies have the guts to invest.
We where challenged to enter the discussions and debates on a friendly, however Dutch way. We therefor were direct to the people of the world of agility, disruption and rebel-ism as we felt that we women are missing out. It is fair to question, how is it possible that same 25 years old stories, we all are accustomed to, are still told in this fast forwarding world of change and development? How come that on the topic ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ the same patterns still exists in these young disruptive tech companies? Still there is hardly room for female leadership, is just a minimum of VC money invested in female founded start ups or scale ups. What can we do to conquer our seat at the table, claim our roles, the key-positions, the boardrooms, the stage?
There is no quick fix but we need to start somewhere. We are advised to be bold, be brave and that we need to act. “Gentlemen decision-makers, it is time for you to be bold brave, not to hesitate and act.
Hello, here we are! We are ready to rock. We have all the talent and energy you are looking for. If not invited to play our part, we are going to take part of the adventure by claiming our roles on stage. We Women will not tolerate, missing out the party of this super powerful, realistic and disruptive world of golden eggs. What is it worth to have the ticket to the party, without the invitation to dance?
Women entrepreneurs and female leadership should be recognized more as a missing link, playing a essential part in the future script of tech, the Human Factor. The good news is that the world is changing. For years it was a given that the future starts every day again. As of today the future is now.
Due to upcoming global pressure on the latest business models and modus operandi of tech companies and giants, there is need for us women. Key decision makers are all aware that they need to change, to stay on the ball.
Besides product-specialists like techies, programmers, cyber securities specialists, digital currency, data analists, AI, machine learning and block chain specialist, there is a need for a different kind of talent. Those who still have soft skills and understanding of peoples behaviour combined with the experience to lead, sell and manage the fast forwarding future will be key to success. For how long Silicon Valley businesses remain the sole successful drivers of the new economy, directly influencing individuals globally just with a click?
The group was happily introduced to some VC investors that love and understand the importance of diversity and inclusion. Not only as a business generation or a product, no they are realising that there should be more room for female start ups and scale ups. There are plenty funds to invest and we all know that calculated risk is the easiest one to take. So Ladies take with both hand this opportunity and proof that we are worth to invest in. Support each other and me firmly and regularly on this quest.
The tech flow is for the coming years the wonderful future, full of global momentum and is frankly a winning game. However we all know that it is the ‘Human Factor’ that starts, build and drives a successful company. Leadership driven by innovation and competent founders as well as solid CEO’s are creating a healthy company-culture, where all employees are welcome, feel free and safe, are open doors. These remaining keys to success are a fact and absolutely not an easy ‘copy pasted’ formula. Corporates and organisations were ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ are openly discussed and where equality is just a matter of fact in stead of a topic of a heated debate, might become the successful corporate cultures of the future but only when they never loose track of their true business model and are on stage with the characters that fitting the roles of the future script.
*So we as Corporate Casting are taking up the challenge due to all friendly encounters and interesting impactful discussions I had. We foresee an exiting future and we are going to pick up that tempting opportunity. We indeed are infected and take up passionately our responsible to make path for talented key-people. We like are going to use the magic wand and will keep you posted.