The Devil Wears Technology is a blog series that shares the stories of #BossLadies around the world. Started one year ago on International Women’s Day, the blog digs into the backgrounds and current life stories of women in the financial and technology space. I’m delighted in this edition to interview Temenos’ very own Emily Steele, one of our leading ladies in the company. During this interview, we will discuss the importance of diversity and balance, and where we go from here.
The theme of International Women’s Day this year, “Balance for Better”, embraces the hope of creating a balanced world. What does that mean to you?
To me, creating balance in the technology industry has multiple facets: gender and cultural balance, work-life balance, and diversity among decision makers. Why is diversity vital for success? One word: innovation. Diversity breeds innovation and ensures that we don't miss things or overlook needs and experiences outside our own.
The pace of technological change today is faster than ever before, and diversity and inclusion in the tech space have helped to pick up that pace. Our team members bring diverse perspectives, which creates a challenger environment that is open enough to get ideas on the table while inviting everyone to come together on common ground. At the end of the day, this environment drives innovation because not only are we confronting the perceived norm, but we're also challenging everyone's status quo.
What are you doing at Temenos to ensure diversity in the team?
We have an innate commitment to diversity. This means we’re not trying to fill positions to ensure we have 50% women, 50% men or X number of people from a specific background or culture. This isn’t a numbers game. Instead, as part of a global company with roots in North America, we are committed to building a company of people from diverse backgrounds and networks, and gender diversity is just one piece.
As president of Temenos North America, I foster diversity by making sure the members of our team feel safe and comfortable being themselves and sharing different ideas and experiences. When people are free to be themselves, they open up and bring their value to the table.
We have a very strong referral network internally that encourages our team members to bring in their friends and peers. Because the members of our diverse team share their connections with us, our network as a whole becomes more diverse, enabling us to have cultural, socioeconomic, gender and age diversity.
How can companies and the women that work for them, achieve balance?
When we talk about balance, there’s more to it than diversity. We also need to focus on work/life balance. Tech is a 24/7 industry — it's fast. In this industry, slowing down means falling behind. And for women, that has created challenges in the past.
Historically, it was very difficult to thrive in the tech industry if you had outside responsibilities. But the industry has shifted, and thanks to the ability to work remotely and flexibly, we now have more freedom in our schedules. I think this shift has made it easier for women to enter the tech field. Today, I’m proud to see women rising through the ranks of tech without the same barriers that existed in years past.
How has the industry changed over time?
If I go back 15 years, I was the only woman at the table during management meetings both internally and externally. At events, only men would present anything related to our industry. Today, that is simply not the case, not just inside of our business but also in the industry as a whole. I see a much more diverse group of people presenting at events and a greater mix of women and men at the table. Looking at Temenos’ North America leadership team, roughly 50% are women!
As part of the culture shift, the work environments in the tech industry have changed over the years. In the past, networking took place after work or at conferences, which limited access to those who had the right connections and didn’t need to be home for other responsibilities. Now teams are social all day long. Everyone has access to networking and comradery. That shift in workplace dynamics has made a big difference in diversity and gender balance across the value chain in tech.
What’s next for women in tech? How do we continue to work toward a balanced world?
I have seen women break through the glass ceiling thanks to the efforts of generations of trailblazing women who came before us, but we still have a lot of work to do. When it comes to gender diversity in the tech industry, the numbers are still not equitable. We need more women to join science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational programs and establish themselves in tech careers. With all of the progress we’ve made toward diversity, many issues still demand our attention.
We encourage all Temenos offices to have an open dialogue to identify women's challenges within the business and work together to solve them. Each office has a focus group to identify and acknowledge the challenges women are facing, come up with solutions and share them to raise awareness. This helps us move beyond simply talking about challenges in our daily lives and start to take action.
This year, we are encouraging our North America team to celebrate International Women’s Day by wearing purple, coming together to talk about how they maintain balance in their careers and sharing stories about inspiring women colleagues.
To clear the next hurdle in the journey toward true equity, I encourage women to be fearless. My advice to the women leaders of tomorrow is to always remember that there is nothing a woman can’t do. So be fearless, take chances and take risks. Be who you are. Be aware of what sets you apart and bring every ounce of your value and life experience to the table. Together, we can create a more balanced working world.