Today, Women in Cloud is thrilled to announce the first-ever #EmpowHERAccess Awards, a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to recognize those who have facilitated their access and ensured business stability throughout the pandemic.

Women in Cloud (WIC) partners with M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Capital Fund to award those who have created access for women in tech to support their stability and recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

#empowHERaccess is an annual digital advocacy campaign by Women in Cloud to generate greater economic access for women in technology. Launched in 2020, the campaign reached over 600K women all! This year, as part of the #empowHERaccess campaign, we at Women in Cloud invite you to join us in acknowledging and celebrating the many stories of pivot and perseverance during the global pandemic. The application ends on June 30, 2021. So start your nominations today!

Women in Cloud has created eight awards to recognize and commemorate these vital members of our community: 

  1. Digital Transformation Project of the Year Award: This award celebrates excellence in digital transformation through the cloud and AI technologies. This award is sponsored by Microsoft Corporation. 
  2. Cloud Solution of the Year Award: This award sponsored by Insight, celebrates the cloud solution that most successfully innovates through the use of cutting-edge cloud and AI technologies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  3. Supplier of the Year Award: This award celebrates companies who have managed to be accessible to female entrepreneurs during the recent epidemic and have increased their supplier ecosystem to accommodate their diverse needs.  
  4. Advisor of the Year Award: This award celebrates the advisors and mentors who have continued to support women entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic by unlocking their rolodex, volunteering their time, and sharing their knowledge. 
  5. Investor of the Year Award: This award celebrates investors who continued to provide economic access to women entrepreneurs during the pandemic by investing $1M+ into women-owned or led technology businesses. 
  6. Innovative Partnership of the Year Award: Sponsored by Accenture, this award celebrates companies that have partnered with women technology entrepreneurs to co-sell their solutions into the enterprise ecosystem. 
  7. Cloud Technology Deal of the Year Award: Our Cloud Technology Deal of the Year will be notable for creating new partnerships, coalescing resources, or injecting funds into innovative cloud businesses. This award is sponsored by Meylah Corporation. 
  8. Women in Technology Outstanding Leadership Award: The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the cloud industry by an individual. Our Outstanding Leader will be an industry leader whose creativity, passion, and innovation are driving the space forward—someone who embodies cloud excellence. M12 – Microsoft’s Venture Fund sponsored this award. 

We welcome you to nominate organizations, suppliers, advisors, investors, and women technology leaders and help us recognize powerful force contributing to your success in the technology industry. Those chosen will be honored at an Award Ceremony on July 16th during the WiCxInspire event. 
Important:

1. Organizations and initiatives can nominate themselves!

2. Nominations are open until 30-Jun-21Learn more!

3. This year’s award ceremony will be on July16th, 2021 during the WiCxInspire Event

For information on the #EmpowHERAccess Inaugural Awards, click here

The countdown begins! 

Recently, I was reminded of the book ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (1993)’ by the American author and Relationship Coach, John Gray. While facilitating an alliance workshop between two high-tech partners, I was reminded of a suggestion the book makes; there are incompatible differences between the way that men and women act in any given situation, and that conflict arises from these different viewpoints. One partner was a global systems integrator and consultancy; the other was an equally large (and global) software company. The workshop was to discuss the current state of the global alliance relationship that they had formed many years ago and reset the vision for the alliance.

Despite the number of senior key stakeholders at the workshop from both parties representing: product lines, consulting practices, sales, marketing, R&D, and corporate planning, the two global managers leading the discussion caught my attention. Experienced Vice Presidents in their respective companies, both responsible for managing global relations, the only obvious difference was their gender. For the purpose of this article let me call them Sally and Simon.

During the course of the workshop, we addressed the question of ‘Joint Business Value Propositions’, and I asked the question: “What is the Joint Business Value Proposition for this alliance? What is different and exciting to the customers about using the combination of both of your company’s products and services?”

Simon immediately jumped right in: “Well, it’s obvious right? Between us we control a large degree of market share in our chosen fields, we are both acknowledged leaders in our respective products and services, what I need is to agree on a target figure with Sally about how many of our software licenses her company will sell this year.”

Sally replied: “What are we trying to achieve with our offerings here? Between us, we need to understand better how we come across to the market and I’d like to know more about Simon’s business strategy and how my team can help him.”

Simon: “Great! That’s just what I said… now let me tell you in detail about my sales targets territory by territory around the world and we can then agree on what numbers you will allocate …!”

And before I could stop him he jumped up to the whiteboard and started doing just that!

The incident put me in mind of the Mars versus Venus debate sparked all those years ago.

If one is to consciously observe and compare the language that Simon is using, which is, ‘me, I, my targets, my objectives, my territories’ to Sally’s conversation which is, ‘us, we, our team, our common goals’, it wouldn’t be hard to differentiate between the leaders. One might say this is negligible and unimportant, however, I believe it is indicative of a deeper mindset. 

Whilst flying home I ruminated on our conversations in the workshop, I confess I couldn’t decide whether the fundamental difference highlighted by the two professionals was the difference between men and women or the difference between sales executives and alliance executives.

In traditional sales, the business landscape is quite clear. I am a seller and you are a buyer; my job is to convince you of the suitability of my products and services to your challenges and needs and I will use appropriate and suitable tools and methodologies to help me do that (e.g. Challenger Sales, Consultative Selling, SPIN Selling, Relationship Selling, Closing Techniques, and on and on). The language involved in the conversation is focused on the seller. It’s a binary type conversation. I win, you ‘lose’ (because you pay out the highest price I can negotiate).

In alliance selling on the other hand it’s a little more subtle. Sally isn’t trying to sell to Simon, she’s trying to understand how they can both together sell to an (as yet) unknown customer, and do it in the most efficient and effective way possible.

The conversation is peppered with words like Us, Our, Joint, Collaborative, Together, Consensus, Joined-Up Approach, and so on.  During my flight I thought about two different scenarios:

  • The different background, mores, and language used to typically describe men and women and,
  • The different background, mores, and language used to typically describe salespeople and alliance people

In both cases, I daydreamed about the words that I had heard used in the past to describe the two groups and I wondered if there was some kind of connection.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t have good male alliance managers and I’m not saying that you can’t have aggressive and hard-driving female executives, but the more I thought about my own experiences with all four groups (men, women, sales, and alliances) the more I resonated with the differences and the apparent connection between the two groups.

Could it be that women are more genetically ‘programmed’ over many thousands of years to view harmony and collaboration in the family unit as preferable to personal advancement?

The jolt that I got as I hit the runway in Birmingham (my hometown) jerked me awake and afterward I couldn’t decide whether it was clear thinking and deep insight or pure gibberish?!

What do you think?  I’d love to hear from you!

If you’d like more information or would like to contribute to this research, feel free to contact me at mike.nevin@alliancebestpractice.com

About Mike Nevin
Mike Nevin is a highly experienced international strategic alliance consultant, coach, and author. Mike was the founding Chairman of ASAP in Europe (ASAP is the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals) which he launched in March 2002. and his seminal work (The Strategic Alliance Handbook) is recommended reading on MBA courses throughout the world.
https://www.amazon.com/Strategic-Alliance-Handbook-Business-Business/dp/0566087790

We are so excited to announce the launch of #empowHERaccess campaign this month.

#empowHERaccess is an annual digital advocacy campaign by Women in Cloud to generate greater economic access for women in technology. The inaugural 2020 campaign focused on the disruptions women in technology founders were facing, and anticipating, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, while WIC’s 2020 programming aimed to offer the access and opportunities women technology professionals need for recovery and continued success.

The 2021 #empowHERaccess campaign will bring together a number of facets to better understand the Global Crisis the pandemic has created for women entrepreneurs, and celebrate the many stories of pivots and perseverance.

As we were shaping the narrative, the community and Fortune companies wanted us to provide solutions to involve women tech founders as part of the digital transformation roadmap. Based on the feedback, I brainstormed the Forbes article to highlight tangible practices that can be implemented now to double the supplier diversity to create billions of dollars in economic impact using the collective power of Fortune 1000 companies.

So, What can Fortune 1000 companies do?

Systematic change requires collective action by organizations large enough to influence and maintain change. Some groundbreaking ideas to doubling the supplier diversity in Fortune 1000 companies for digital transformation could be:

  1. Strategic digital transformation planning with diverse suppliers. Digital transformation is shifting the competitive landscape for many organizations. As you seek to partner with new partners, it is important to look for diverse suppliers who are willing to work with you on the journey while you extend your talent workforce.
  2. Policy Refinement. Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review claims that 52% of women in STEM careers will eventually leave because of hostile work environments where the company culture is not accommodating of women. The gap in the pipeline can be addressed by establishing policies within Fortune 1000 companies changing the landscape, forever allowing women to lead and develop solutions for the future and bring them into supplier ecosystems.
  3. Underwrite certifications. To accelerate the rise of women-led supply chains, Fortune 1000 needs to take on the onus of underwriting certifications to reduce the burden on diverse technology suppliers trying to build and raise their business. Supplier certifications are a huge investment that largely contributes to small businesses with a lack of funds being unable to deliver to their full capability.
  4. Focused networking with buyers. It is a no-brainer that networking is an essential element for business growth; however, facilitating focused networking sessions will help explore unique and creative solutions developed in a diverse environment.
  5. Solution Showcase. Sixty percent of digital sales are carried out through online marketplaces already, and the number of new marketplaces is growing rapidly to create visibility of potential solutions. Access solutions from Women In Cloud solution marketplace that helps buyers access enterprise-ready solutions developed by women founders for Fortune 1000 companies to incorporate in their supplier network. 

The solution is quite simple to pinpoint, if we double down on investments and engagements with female founders, the world’s largest organizations could succeed in abolishing the gender gap in tech entrepreneurship while accelerating economic recovery. 

At Women in Cloud we are committed to developing solutions and generating resources that are dedicated to enabling Fortune brands and enterprise companies to create an economic impact; 

1. WiCxFortune100 Initiative: A turn-key equity advancing solutions for Fortune 100 companies to come together and collectively solve gender-equity challenges through representation, recruitment and relationship building.

2. WiC Solution Marketplace: A one-stop-shop for technology solutions and services for the mid-to-enterprise market, created, owned, and operated by women entrepreneurs.

3. Fortune 100 Lunch and Learn Series: A high-level networking experience designed to open the doors for leading fortune companies and brands to connect with technology business builders. 

I invite you and your brand to get engaged with us to unlock economic access while making the supplier programs diverse and inclusive in the ecosystem.

Website: https://womenincloud.com 

Calling all female tech founders to take 2021 Edition of Covid19 Impact Survey to help us identify and build economic relief and recovery solutions

On this International Women’s Day 2021, and every day, I’m joining all those who #ChooseToChallenge  the biases and traditional ways of doing things that are holding women back. As women climb their own career ladders, they can be a powerful force for lifting other women.

Choosetochallenge2021

To do this effectively, we may need to examine and challenge how we lead. In our career journey, we often focus on our personal ambition; getting results; winning promotions. But being an outstanding leader is really about empowering others, enabling them to succeed. Have we been leading in this way? Are we setting a good example? Are we enabling our teammates to grow and thrive?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of the “servant leader,” and trying every day to play this role. I’m convinced this model of leadership has tremendous potential to change workplaces for the benefit of women (and men), and also to build better organizations and communities.

Let’s examine what servant leadership is; what it isn’t; and how you can know whether you’re in an organization that supports this way of leading.

What is servant leadership?

Servant leaders take the traditional leadership model and turn it upside down. They serve those they lead, by enabling their teammates to achieve often beyond their own expectations. Servant leaders focus on empowering and uplifting those who work for them.

While traditional leadership generally involves someone at “the top” exercising power, servant leadership is very different. The servant leader shares power, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. One of the questions the servant leader asks herself is, “Are the people I’m serving growing and flourishing?”

Not long ago, I had an epiphany about this in my own life. I had steadily climbed my career ladder and reached the level of a top sales director and one of the senior women executives in Accenture. But I was starting to examine what kind of leader I wanted to be.

I realized that being a good leader is not just about personal drive and my own career path. As a senior woman executive who has achieved great success, I have a platform to lift other women up. It’s time for me to focus on the next generation of women leadership and help them move up in their careers. What does each woman need on her career journey? What can I do to support her?

We can be servant leaders at any stage of our careers. It’s independent of our age, position, experience or life circumstances. Anyone can support and enable others.

What isn’t servant leadership?

We should also be clear on what servant leadership is NOT. It’s not martyrdom or neglecting your own well-being. You’re all familiar with the safety instructions in airplanes: “Put your own mask on first” before trying to help your child or another passenger! Servant leadership holds that before you can be an effective leader, you must take care of yourself. It’s not being self-centered; instead, think of it as self-care for service. It’s a more realistic, human view of our lives.

And self-care is immensely valuable, to ourselves and those around us. The pandemic has made this starkly clear. While it has impacted everyone, it has taken a huge toll on women in the workforce.

Recent research found that more than one in four women are thinking about downshifting their careers or even leaving the workforce. The gender-equality gains achieved in the past several years could be wiped out in a single year as a significant number of women may leave their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19. And Accenture research confirmed that the impacts of the pandemic have fallen disproportionately on women—and especially working mothers, senior-level women, and women of color.

I’ve formed some self-care “habits” to practice every day. I start each day with meditation. I take some time to invest in myself and my well-being. I try to take five minutes between meetings—little micro-calibrations—to help me mentally get things together so that I can bring my best to my next meeting.

How do I recognize a supportive workplace?

Now that we know what servant leadership is (and isn’t), how can we recognize an environment that supports us in this way of leading? We want to be in an organization that teaches and enables us to be effective servant leaders.

One of the reasons I love working at Accenture is this continued support for my growth as a leader. Accenture offers its executive leaders the option to work with their own executive coach. My coach is encouraging me to think about how I will get to next level of leadership. She has helped me understand that my job now is to help others do their jobs well; it’s not to execute everything myself. As my coach put it, “Now you need to spend less time on the dance floor and more time in the balcony!”

I encourage you to think about what that means for you as you aspire to keep advancing. What got you here—where you are now—likely won’t get you where you want to go. Figure out ways to continue your personal growth, whether or not your employer pays for it. Growth is a hugely important personal investment.

Accenture is committed to promoting a work environment in which everyone can thrive. We’ve received numerous awards for gender equality and supportive environments for women, but we keep striving. We put down an unequivocal stake: 50/50 by 2025—a gender-balanced workforce by 2025.

All of Accenture’s women are mentored and supported at each stage of their careers. We offer powerful internal training and mentoring programs for women. The Developing Our Women Program connects junior, mid-level and senior-level women for networking and collaborating on development plans for career advancement. Our Insight program connects senior-level women for similar purposes.

For several years, Accenture has been studying a culture of equality and its impact. We found that workplace culture is critical for women’s advancement, and when women rise, men rise, too. Workers want to stay at companies that take care of their people. Our research showed that a culture of equality is a forceful multiplier of innovation and growth. When you lift up women, you lift up everyone—families, organizations, communities, entire countries.

The servant leader model echoes the movement by many companies toward “responsible business,” which is to reimagine, rebuild and transform our global economy into one that works for the benefit of all. Organizations of all kinds have a tremendous opportunity to reimagine and rebuild with responsible business. And we as consumers can demand this of them, using our wallet and making conscious purchasing decisions. Choosing to buy from responsible businesses is one of the greatest ways we can have a positive impact for change. I view this as yet another way to embody servant leadership.

As I’ve been pursuing my personal mission to be a servant leader, I’ve been reading a terrific book by someone who actually left Accenture to study how to be a monk. The book is Think Like a Monk, by Jay Shetty. He draws on the wisdom he learned as a monk to offer practical steps anyone can take every day to live a more meaningful life.

Among many brilliant insights and teachings in his book, he discusses why kindness is crucial to success. He quotes Daisaku Ikeda, a Japanese Buddhist philosopher and educator, who says, “It’s impossible to build one’s own happiness on the unhappiness of others.” You could also say, “It is impossible to build your own success on the failure or neglect of others.” No organization or society can thrive if women aren’t thriving too. I encourage you in all of your business dealings to think before you act. I am practicing every day to think about how I can be kinder in all of my dealings. When do I need to be firm and forceful? And when to be kind and generous? As a leader (especially a woman leader), it’s a tricky balance that takes intentional effort.

The author Nelson Henderson said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Each of us has benefitted from others who planted trees under whose shade we now thrive. It’s now our turn to be the servant leader who enables other women to advance.

Conclusion

We all have a responsibility—and ability—to lift up other women, in our professional and personal lives. This charge doesn’t “begin” when we move into a particular position early in our careers, and it doesn’t “end” when we reach the top rungs of our career ladders. As servant leaders, we can continually support other women in their climb, just as we ourselves seek out mentoring and coaching.

I urge you to commit to three actions to uplift other women:

  • Identify your aspirations. Imagine the future you want for women in your company and community. What would it look like? How would lifting other women help us get there? If we don’t clarify what we’re aspiring to, we’re not likely to achieve it.
  • Choose a leader you especially admire for her or his ability to empower women, and ask to be mentored. Observe how she leads and the results she achieves. Ask her for her advice on how to be an effective servant leader. Adapt what you learn to your own style.
  • Learn more about how to be an effective mentor and servant leader. Admit you don’t have all the answers or skills. Ask questions, listen, seek out training and build on your personal strengths. This one willbe the hardest, and I hope you incorporate it into your own personal growth journey. The rewards will be infinite.

I look forward to hearing your stories and questions, observing your progress on your career journeys, and most importantly seeing the impacts of your servant leadership!

Watch her TEDx Talk : Stop Climbing and Start Lifting

Credits: Gina Fratarcangeli, Managing Director, Market Unit Sales Leader, Accenture