October 28, 2020 Cyril Deschanel Director , Tele2 IoT

Diversity in Tech

With Global Diversity Month in October, I’ve been thinking about the topic of diversity a lot. Even in the time of Covid, I continue to travel for my job and being on the road gives me a lot of time to think. A few weeks ago, I was waiting to board a flight in Germany and saw a sign from the United Nations celebrating Global Diversity Month. It touched upon one of the areas we as a company have committed to when it comes to diversity, specifically gender equality. I snapped a quick picture as I headed to my plane so I would be able to reflect upon it later.

Tele2 has long made a strong stand on diversity, starting with gender diversity: our company has committed to having a 50/50 gender split by 2023. Already today, when it comes to gender diversity, Tele2 ranks first among companies on the Swedish OMX30 index, and eighth among 255 evaluated European companies. And while we’re very proud of these results, we are always striving to do more.

We know – and the numbers back us up – that corporate diversity drives better results.  It’s been said that strength lies in differences, not similarities – and studies show that companies that place an emphasis on diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry median.

My team is already pretty diverse and international. On my management team alone, we have five different nationalities and their ages span several decades.  But we still have a way to go when it comes to gender diversity. Of course, diversity goes well beyond gender equality – we also are addressing ethnicity, disabilities, cultural background, age, and other areas such as education and experience – but we’re starting with gender diversity because as most of us already know, tech is a male-dominated industry and we need to do more to address the imbalance.

But we aren’t addressing diversity simply to improve our bottom line. For me, a diverse team means a better and more productive working environment that produces more innovation and gives us the ability to attract the best talent. Diversity also impacts things like customer service, because when you’re working on a global scale you want to ensure that all points of view are heard and taken into consideration. Only by having a diverse team can you hope to achieve that.

To address gender diversity, we’re focusing on female leadership and actively looking to add women to our team, while also looking at ways to identify and elevate female talent. One big step we’ve taken is setting up a Gender Equality Initiative, which meets several times a month to actively discuss measures we can take to improve the company’s gender balance. And we’re not doing this in a bubble – the first meetings have involved all Tele2 IoT female staff, along with myself and an HR representative, but going forward we will involve male members of staff as well, because we believe gender diversity and equality is a challenge for everyone to address, and in the end, achieving gender equality will benefit everyone in the workplace. Having both men and women in the discussion makes everyone part of the solution, so we’re creating an environment where this can happen.

Bringing gender balance leads to more creativity, stronger team dynamics, and new and different ways of thinking and challenging one another.

You’ve probably heard the statistic that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, while women apply only if they meet 100% of them. It’s from an internal report from Hewlett Packard back in 2014. Many people took this statistic to mean that men are more confident and that women need to have more faith in themselves. I look at it a bit differently: I think we need to recognize that women aren’t any less ambitious than men, but that they do face barriers that cannot be ignored, even the more subtle ones, the ones that make women feel they have to over-perform just to level the playing field.

Our industry can help level the playing field by openly discussing the issues surrounding gender diversity with both men and women – and instead of putting the onus on women to drive change, make everyone part of the solution. This will lead stronger companies with much deeper pools of talent.

And while we say we’re focusing on female leadership at Tele2 IoT, this doesn’t just mean adding women to the leadership team – it also means giving women the space to be leaders in their own areas of expertise. It’s about empowering women, so we are enabling development plans, setting up mentoring programs with both internal and external resources, and also ensuring that when we recruit, we are clear that we are the kind of company that wants to develop talent.

One of our core values at Tele2 is having a challenger mentality. I want to challenge everyone in our industry to look at diversity not as a problem to be solved, but as a gift to be enjoyed. The sooner our industry truly embraces diversity, the better we all will be for it.

If you’d like to discuss diversity, please feel free to reach out. I’m always ready to have this conversation and do my part in promoting diversity across our industry.

#diversityintech



Cyril Deschanel
cyril.deschanel@tele2.com
Director
Tele2 IoT