When we started our journey with Women in Cloud last year,  we knew we wanted to ignite a conversation and drive action around diversity and inclusion.  We had a sense that a rising tide was coming and our timing was right for “less talk, more action,” but I’m not sure we could have predicted the amazing momentum in the national consciousness around these issues that have emerged in the last handful of months.

Perhaps I should not admit that I tuned in last week to the Oscars primarily to see the beautiful gowns.  I did. But I also listened with the hope that Hollywood would bring focus to the conversation around diversity in their industry.  I was not disappointed. When Frances McDormand asked all female nominees to stand up, I leaned forward in anticipation of what my gut told me would be a special moment.  Stand up she told the women, be recognized.  But then she went on to tell the powerful men and women in the room to support those standing by taking action — don’t just chat tonight at a party she admonished, but take real action and invite these women who stand to a meeting, give them access to opportunity.

I had what I’m now going to think of as my “Frances McDormand” moment  (sadly, without the fabulous gown) at the recent Women in Cloud Summit.  I looked around the room of almost 400  business leaders and amazing emerging talent and I asked them to figuratively stand up and take an action — make a pledge to give women access.  Access to mentorship, access to resources or tools, or access to programs and funding — there are so many ways to contribute.

We named this call to action the “100 Cloud Commitments” and our goal was to get the leaders in the room and those in our broader network to take 100 actions in 2018.  One hundred actions that create access for women entrepreneurs in Washington.

So how did we do? I’m happy to say we have great momentum with more than 50 committed actions to date from individuals pledging their own time to companies of all sizes committing resources for internal and external initiatives.  Here is a sample of some of the amazing commitments we’ve seen so far:

  • Microsoft and HPE jointly funded a 6 month accelerator program for 15 women-led companies to grow their ability to sell into the channel.
  • “I would mentor women to lead, to find their voice and claim a seat at the table,” said one leader who volunteered as a Women in Cloud mentor.
  • Gretchen O’Hara has been actively promoting the Women in Cloud efforts with leadership within the UN and local state initiatives
  • VC Gillian Muessig announced the $100M Sybilla Masters Fund to invest in women-led start-ups. The fund is named after an inventor whose corn milling device was the first invention to receive a patent in the American colonial era.
  • Multiple women have signed up to be technical mentors in leading-edge cloud technologies such as containers, Kubernetes and Docker.
  • Carrie Francey, VP at HPE, signed up to lead an “opportunity circle,” a networking program where women come together to help others achieve their business goals.
  • Michele Keeffe, the veteran entrepreneur and technology marketer, pledged to connect women in technology to the people, leaders, jobs, and companies that will move them closer to their dreams.

I also took a pledge that day.  With a college-age daughter, my interests lie in advising and helping young women carve their career path into tech, particularly into product-oriented roles and I’m mentoring several young women who are starting their career.

So, are you ready to stand up?  We can help. Let us connect you to one of the many women who raised their hand as part of the Women in Cloud Mentor Network. Or, do you have a pledge of your own ready to put into action? Are you ready to support women with access to opportunities? We invite you to help the community hit our 100 Cloud Commitments goal. Reach out to Wendy White here.

Want to hear more about 100 Cloud Commitments?  Check back regularly as we’ll be announcing more each month.

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