How can we proactively make a change to achieve equality and inclusion in tech? It's International Women's Day in March and Orbis are dedicating the entire month to celebrating the womxn of Tech and Design. If we want more womxn in tech, we have to do more than want. Our team felt we needed to share stories from the industry, told by voices with first-hand experience. All of the exposure International Women's Day kicks up is critical, not just for our own education as a business, but also to support the exposure of gender equality and inclusion in tech. These stories are not told by a company or PR, or any other bias perspective. These are the real womxn of tech shaking up the industry.
Belén, what has your personal career journey in tech been like?
I have been working at Cloudreach full-time for nearly 4 years and have held different roles. I currently work as Global Partnerships Business Manager, and prior to that I led our Talent Acquisition team. I spend my spare time with something I’m very passionate about, Tech Women and Wagora.
Tech Women is a meetup group in London, Manchester, Dublin, Barcelona and New York;
Wagora is an evolution of Tech Women in order to have a higher impact and change the status quo. Wagora is a community focused on advancing women and underrepresented genders in the tech industry.
I’m very thankful to Cloudreach for supporting me with both Tech Women and Wagora.
I have not always worked in the tech industry. I worked in the sports industry for about 10 years, both in Spain and the UK. I started working at the age of 16 as a tennis coach a few hours on the weekends whilst at school, and a couple of years later, while at university, I started combining my studies with a full-time job in the same company where I held different roles for 7 years.
After 7 years, I knew that in order to take my career to the next level I would need to be proficient in English. I decided to pack my bags and move to the UK, not speaking English fluently at all. I have some very funny stories. Scary times back then, and very challenging but I’d do it all over again! It might seem weird, but just doing this interview with you… I couldn’t put three words together in English 7 years ago.
In the UK I changed sports for the tech industry. Despite my work being similar, it was not easy to make the switch, but networking really made the difference.
What do you think tech leaders could do to help support gender equality within their teams?
It’s about fairness, giving equal opportunities to all and fostering an inclusive environment.
Leadership needs to ensure that processes and policies are fair across their organisation, and that people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.
As a consequence, diverse teams are built, and people will do their life's work in their teams and organisations.
Widening that point, how can businesses adapt to ensure they are enhancing women with their careers?
Businesses need to take an action-driven approach to increase the number of women working in tech. Collaborating with organisations such as Wagora will ensure they’re making an impact in the community. It’s not about what you say you want to do, it’s about what you do.
Top 3 tips for women looking to break into tech or progress from their current position into a tech role?
Find a support network, a mentor and go for it! Easier said than done. Support networks are very important, you will meet like-minded individuals and people happy to help you.
If anyone reading this wants to move into a tech role and doesn’t know where to start from, feel free to connect with me on Linkedin - happy to help.
When and how was your community created and what inspires you to lead your community?
Wagora was founded in September last year (lockdown silver-linings!), and it was born from the back of the success of Tech Women meetup groups we were organising. We currently have over 6000 members.
What is your community’s mission and what impact are you hoping to have on the industry?
Our mission is to enable women and underrepresented genders to acquire and develop the digital and leadership skills of tomorrow.
Wagora strives to bridge the gender gap through partnership with like-minded organisations. We work with our partners to reshape and kickstart career-changing initiatives, programmes and processes which embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion.
What is the best part of being involved with your community?
The impact we are having on people’s careers and lives is certainly the best thing. Providing opportunities and support to our community and seeing the impact that we are making is just awesome.
What are your plans and goals for 2021, what is the community’s vision for the future?
Our plan is to keep making an impact and drive change in the community alongside our partners; getting more women into tech and supporting the ones that are already working in the industry.
We will be launching a couple of exciting things with Wagora in the next few weeks, which we believe will make our community feel even more supported. I want it to be a surprise so I will keep it quiet for a few more weeks!
In terms of our vision - we envision a world where women and underrepresented genders of all backgrounds, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability and age, have a fair chance to succeed in technology.
In tribute to IWD’s 2021 campaign, what do you choose to challenge?
I choose to challenge inequality, biases & stereotypes