Our mission is to innovate and evolve technology to build networks better. If we’re not innovating then we will simply not achieve our market potential.
There is ample evidence that gender diversity drives both cultural and bottom-line benefits. Gender diverse teams are better positioned to unlock innovation, and diverse management teams are more innovative than less diverse teams, measured recently by BCG on the cadence and success of new products and services launched.
At Render, we need to be innovative to thrive. We need to foster an open culture that prioritizes diverse thinking knowing that this will deliver us a competitive edge when it comes to innovation, creativity and growth.
42% of our product and tech team are women, we have female board representation, and 33% of our leadership team are women. At the crossroads of two traditionally male industries - technology and construction - we’re tracking well, yet like most teams, businesses and let’s face it, governments, we’ve not reached that utopic state and certainly can’t lose focus on what’s needed to get there.
To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge theme we spoke openly and authentically with a few of Render’s leaders - Alicia Kearns, CMO, Lori Sherwood, Director - Commercial and Market Development, and Geraldine Nankervis, People and Culture, on how they have chosen to challenge the gender norm and what’s needed to drive meaningful change amongst our own team and the forums we participate in.
How have you chosen to challenge the ‘status quo’ in your career?
LS: To me, challenging the status quo means trying to change behaviors and not allowing systemic sexism to go unchecked. Is it rampant? No. However, neither is it rare. In my career, I have repeatedly seen women being asked to do administrative tasks far below their pay grade, been excluded from developing client relationships because they don’t play golf or fish, and been directly challenged in their authority to speak on behalf of a company based on gender alone.
I believe that as women we have a responsibility to try to change these behaviors that perpetuate stereotypes, diminish confidence and hold women back from advancing. This does not mean calling out every little thing that could be misconstrued but not shying away from uncomfortable conflict to effect change, I have chosen to empower and rally the women around me to be the change that’s needed.
AK: I have always been in male-dominated tech environments, and experienced the gender stereotype biases that came with moving through the ranks of these businesses. The fear of expressing differing viewpoints and perspectives was something I personally needed to navigate and overcome and is an area that needs to be addressed in certain workplace cultures.
How I chose to set a different path was a considered alignment to brilliant and strong women in executive leadership roles, and as my career advanced, choosing to only contribute to businesses that embodied a diverse and inclusive culture with strong collaboration, empathy, and trust values.
'Now I pay it forward to women in my network and the team here at Render by mentoring and encouraging young women to speak up and share their unique perspective - it’s not the solution but its empowering by nature and that’s an important first step.'
What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing women in our sector, and what are some ideas for solving these?
GN: Automation, globalization and collaboration are the future of work and a large percentage of women are working and studying in fields that won't exist in the future. At Render, we have the opportunity to introduce women to a career in tech and we're proud to partner with organizations that train and mentor women including Code Like a Girl, to open up these opportunities and contribute to solving this challenge.
AK: The tech industry is notoriously fast-paced and dynamic. Senior roles are generally stretched to the limit and carry their own level of stress, so that combined with the burden of home and school care can be overwhelming. In some ways, the pandemic has exacerbated diversity challenges in tech, where representation is already low. I believe it is incumbent upon all leaders and other women in tech to be compassionate, kind and 'cheerlead' balanced working environments.
LS: The biggest challenge facing women is equal representation. Equal representation in leadership positions and influence circles like industry forums and events. I have been to many conferences where it’s an all-white male agenda. One conference I attended had 121 male speaking slots vs 11 female equivalents. At the end of the show, I shared with the organizers a list of 20 women who were at the conference that would have made great speakers.
'As an industry, we need to do more to ensure that women, people of color and younger professionals are brought into the fold as thought leaders and influential voices.'
How does Render challenge the diversity norm?
GN: While Render operates in a male-dominated industry, the internal culture is one of family values, camaraderie and transparency - while keeping a laser focus on growth and scale. The reality is that we have many facets of our lives and work is just one of them. Since working in a remote environment, our CEO has interviewed executives with his newborn on his lap, kids have featured in Zoom calls at school drop off and pick up times, and we always consider restructuring full-time roles to part-time based on the people who will enable Render to win as a team. This is the ‘new normal’ for us and one of the great aspects that’s surfaced as we transition out of lockdown.
AK: When opinions vary and customer deadlines are fast and furious, emotions can run high, but I have seen a really strong level of emotional intelligence and self-awareness across all genders and levels of the team at Render. One of our values ‘ Stay Open’ certainly speaks to this but I also believe this has become both a diversity and cultural norm.
What advice do you have for the next generation of women joining Render, or more broadly the tech sector?
AK: Firstly, you do not need to be more than you are. Be brave, or as we say at Render ‘back yourself to win’.
More practically, be curious, be helpful and be attentive - this will not only help you build relationships but will help you understand and prioritize truly impactful initiatives. Collaborate well and focus your time where your organization needs you the most (outcomes vs. activities) as these are the things you can influence and have the power to control.
These women make me proud to be a part of #TeamRender.
Cultural shifts do not happen overnight and a more inclusive workplace requires a consciousness around how we behave and how we #choosetochallenge - the wonderful part is, it’s everyone’s responsibility and can start with just one person and a simple decision.
From challenge comes change, and at Render we pledge to make the choice to create a culture of belonging for all team members, elevate women's achievements and challenge gender bias every day.