“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.” – IWD
Imagine a post-pandemic world where women are struggling for jobs, recognition, and for a spot in the industry? Well, we are already there! The Covid-19 pandemic has driven a large number of women out of the workforce and dented years of effort to achieve equity and equality for women in the industry.
The 2021 International Women’s Day-themed #ChooseToChallenge was dedicated to overcoming the overwhelming issues women continue to face in today’s world enhanced by the onset of a global pandemic. Following the theme of IWD, Women in Cloud’s two-day celebrations focused on providing digital experiences that help participants gain the skills, knowledge, and access they need to challenge the current environment and statistics around economic inclusion for women in technology.
The summit was a call-to-action to avert a brewing global crisis for women in the upcoming years as a direct impact of the current pandemic. The Co-founder and President of Women in Cloud, Chaitra Vedullapalli spoke about the detrimental trifecta hampering the creation of infinite economic access for women in technology. She highlighted the following trifecta and called upon the industry thought leaders, experts and corporations to build strategic partnerships to eliminate a possible crisis;
- Lack of Leadership Representation: Though female participation in the labor force has increased and the number of women in executive-level roles has risen, growth has been painfully slow. The percentage of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies has climbed from zero in 1995 to only 4.8 percent in 2018. Just one in eight start-up CEOs are women and the most highly compensated executive roles continue to be dominated by men. Overall, women technologists make up 28.8 percent of the tech workforce today. When we act with intention, we can put more women in leadership roles which will lead to a stronger economy.
- Lack of Supplier Diversity Allocation: Today, only 3 percent of corporate procurement dollars and 5 percent of federal contracts are going to women-owned firms. Although total global venture funding increased by 4 percent year-over-year, funding to female-founded startups decreased by 27 percent. Investors have reduced their investment in women-led tech companies taking it to less than 2 percent. It’s no wonder that only 2 percent of women-owned businesses ever make it to $1 million in revenue, which is 3.5 times less than their male counterparts.
- Increased Displacement of Women-held Jobs: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, due to the COVID-19 pandemic more than 2.2 million women were unemployed and it is estimated 180 million women’s jobs will be eliminated over the next 20 years as a result of AI transformation.
To combat these shocking numbers and help women, the Women in Cloud’s International Women’s Day celebration was a call-to-action summit to engage and partner with large corporations. If men and women worked together to double the supplier diversity allocation in large corporations – not spend, JUST their budget allocation – we will generate $1 billion in revenue for women entrepreneurs.
At International Women’s Day, we proactively created high energy community experiences to connect, inspire and transform the attendees to be part of the economic access movement;
- #ChooseToChallenge Fireside Chat: The high-level interactive summit began with a power panel led by Jackie Wright, Chief Digital Officer, Microsoft, and Gretchen O’Hara, Vice President, US AI & Sustainability Strategy. It was a captivating fireside chat that invigorated the audience and left them with clear thoughts to consider the current state of economic access and where they can take action to change the narrative in their own ecosystems. Click here for the full video.
- #ChooseToChallenge Leadership Panel: Led by Gina Fratarcangeli, Managing Director of Accenture along with power speakers Ying Zhao, ServiceNow; Kristen Marquez, Boeing; Jeana Jorgenson, Google; Lily Li, Columbia, Citi, the panel shared lived experiences, articulated the crisis that we are dealing with, and how as an individual one can find a solution to existing crises in your ecosystem. Click to listen to the conversation.
- #CloudJobs and #RockYourPitch: Battling the job displacement problem, the #CloudJobs Recruitment Lounge created access to over 150 jobs from 33 companies. Plus, we hosted #RockYourPitch, a confidence-building experience to help attendees and entrepreneurs to build their compelling pitch.
- #CloudExecConnect: Women in Cloud’s premium networking experience #CloudExecConnect helps female technology founders to connect with experienced industry leaders to advise entrepreneurs to get access to investors and customers.
- Microsoft’s #BuildFor2030 Campaign: Female founders from WiC Cloud accelerator were invited to participate in Microsoft’s #BuildFor2030 campaign to make ensure easy access to technology developed by female tech founders. Together, we highlighted companies that align with the UN SDGs and bring us one step closer to creating an inclusive digital economy. Congratulations to WiC Female Founders!
2021 is about challenging the norms of society and eliminating the onset of the global crisis fueled by the detrimental trifecta. So join us in the economic access movement and let us together beat this global crisis.
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To access the recordings from the Summit, stay tuned to the #WiCDigitalNetwork for more information on when they will be released.