If you missed the recent scrutiny of the tech sector with regard to Diversity and Inclusion, specifically the inclusion of women, it’s probably because you’ve been in a coma. The implications and impact for HR, leadership generally and business success from the range of issues highlighted in the various controversies, are significant. We have seen a detailed examination of culture and practices in a number of high-profile organizations (Google and Uber to name but two) as well as the exposure of widespread discrimination and harassment of women reported in the VC sector.

So, I was delighted to see on the opening day of HR Tech World Amsterdam this year there will be a perfect balance of women on the main stage. Congratulations! This is not just progressive but business savvy. Women make up over 70% of HR practitioners and even though many are not on the tech side of the function, they will be end-users. It’s important to get them on that side.

Check out the exciting agenda here.

Women on stage matter

It’s important not just for the tech industry, but for all sectors to have women speakers on stage in high visibility roles. They are the role models for future generations and will motivate and inspire younger and junior women to follow them. Very often women are consigned to low visibility breakout workshops and the more traditional roles of teaching and coaching.  Many conference organizers frequently look for the low hanging fruit of the same old speakers (male) who have used over and over again.

Corinne Vigreux,  Co-Founder of TomTom

This year’s line up

Corinne Vigreux,  Co-Founder of TomTom will take us on TomTom’s transformative journey and walk us through what kind of risks enterprises need to take to simultaneously pivot and maintain a constant level of innovation, always staying one step ahead of the trend and more importantly, the competition.

I’m going to be in the front row for the panel discussion moderated by China Gorman on the obstacles women face in the technology industry. This dedicated panel on women founders includes, Urška Sršen Founder of Bellabeat who created an app focusing on prenatal and neonatal care and which now focuses on smart wearables for women. She is joined by Ida Tin, a Danish internet entrepreneur and author who is the co-founder and CEO of the women’s menstruation-tracking app, Clue, and credited with coining the term “femtech”. These women lead tech businesses that are specifically working on technology for and about women. It sends a powerful message. The lack of women on Apple’s design team meant that although there were numerous apps for other health issues, apps tracking women’s reproductive health were largely ignored until 2015.  Seems incredible but it’s true!

China Gorman, Board Chair for Universum Americas

Re-defining success

And finally Arianna Huffington, global CEO, Thrive, takes the closing keynote slot on Day 1 with a speech on redefining success. She tackles a question that crops up in every HR Tech conference that I have ever been to which talks about motivation, wellness and employee engagement.  It’s long overdue.

It involves drilling down to cultural basics to analyze and re-examine how we define success in the first place. Research from Accenture shows that men and women are increasingly on the same page when it comes to definitions of success. Work/life balance is becoming increasingly gender unspecific especially for millennials where it ranks almost equally with career opportunities as a sought-after benefit. Arianna will make a case for a third metric redefining success beyond money and power:

“one which is “based on well-being, health, our ability to unplug and recharge and renew ourselves, and to find joy in both our job and the rest of our life.”

Mounting evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, confirms that the practices that make us less stressed also make us more productive, and Huffington provides clear examples of how this is not only good for families’ and employees’ health but also good for a company’s bottom line. Research shows that the current male-dominated model of success isn’t working for either gender, Huffington acknowledges that women must lead the charge in changing the current ethos. Eloquent and engaging, Huffington shares how ‘leaning back’ makes for wiser leaders  I’m looking forward to hearing her compelling case that success ultimately, is not just about money or position, but about living the life you want—not just the life for which you settle and how employees and organizations will benefit.

I’m also looking forward to the discussion with Josh Bersin of Deloitte who has been urging businesses to consider the “disengaged employee” for a number of years.

It’s a great opening line-up. Although I do look forward to the day when we can say “Male Unicorns” and “Female Founders” no longer need a separate slot!

Hope to see you there!