ST Women in Technology - 106

So we made some tactical changes, particularly
for lateral hires-for example, developing gender
neutral job descriptions for open positions and
ensuring that we had diverse slates of candidates
for those positions, as well as diverse teams to
interview them.
But the centerpiece of the initiative was
"Leadhership1," a six-month program created by
Susan Davis-Ali that is designed to engage and
retain rising women technologists in the company.
The aim was to help participants achieve greater
clarity on their career goals, gain confidence
to achieve those goals, and build a network of
women in technology who could support them.

TOO OFTEN, A CAREER IN
TECHNOLOGY CONJURES UP
IMAGES OF A BUNCH OF GUYS
WRITING CODE ALL NIGHT LONG
AND SLEEPING IN THEIR CLOTHES!

We started the first year with a cohort of 25
women, who met in our office in Minnesota. The
third year we went global, with a group of 84
women connected through video conferencing.
Our most recent cohort saw nearly 160 women
participate.
The Leadhership1 program has been refined over
time and today is built around 10 modules, with
topics ranging from "Proactive Career Planning,"
to "Lessons Learned from My Biggest Mistakes." It
also includes 40, one-on-one coaching sessions,
a mentoring system, and access to a private
online community where participants can share
experiences, best practices, and other resources.
It should go without saying that the program
is not about jumping women up the leadership
ladder. The women I know from the program
don't want an undeserved advantage. They just
don't want an undeserved disadvantage.

106

we still lose far too many women technologists
as their careers progress, the experience of
program participants has been encouraging. Our
most recent data suggests that the retention
rate among participants is 4% higher and their
promotion rate is 12% higher than that of a
control group of women in similar positions at
the company.
And graduates of the program report that it has
made a significant difference in their careers.
When asked about their career objectives at
the end of the most recent course, 93% of
participants say those goals are clear, compared
to 74% of those asked a related question at the
beginning of the program. Moreover, 91% of the
graduates say they are confident they can reach
those goals, compared to 50% of those polled as
they enter the program.
A positive-and lasting-impact can be seen
beyond the numbers. One participant of the
first Leadhership1 cohort, eight years ago,
wrote to us recently: "The program gave me the
confidence to take charge of my career path
and find something I love versus waiting and
hoping for a manager to recognize my talent and
staying in a job I didn't really care for." A more
recent graduate wrote: Since I have taken part
in the program... I have overcome my Imposter
Syndrome to become a conference speaker. (I
have been invited now to speak in a conference
in Vienna!) I have built my brand and broken
some glass ceilings in my professional field and
in this company."

THE LESSONS
What have we learned from our experience with
the Leadhership1 program so far? Two things
stand out.

THE RESULTS

One is that, for a program like this to succeed,
it needs to be a sustained effort. Too often,
programs like this simply fade away as an
organization changes focus, sponsors lose
interest, or a program doesn't produce
immediate results.

Evidence of the Leadhership1 program's success
is both quantitative and anecdotal. Although

Our nine-year commitment to the initiative has
enabled us to not only continually refine the



ST Women in Technology

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ST Women in Technology

Contents
ST Women in Technology - Cover1
ST Women in Technology - Cover2
ST Women in Technology - 1
ST Women in Technology - Contents
ST Women in Technology - 3
ST Women in Technology - 4
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ST Women in Technology - Cover4
ST Women in Technology - 108
ST Women in Technology - Poster 1
ST Women in Technology - Poster 2
ST Women in Technology - Poster 3
ST Women in Technology - Poster 4
ST Women in Technology - Poster 5
ST Women in Technology - Poster 6
http://magazine.straighttalkonline.com/issue11
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