Doing Our Part to Support Women in Tech
The latest statistics show that 47% of all adults employed in the U.S. are women but according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), women only hold 25% of computing roles. These numbers should be shocking, since 1990, the growth of STEM jobs grew by 79% versus a 34% employment overall growth rate.
At Vonage, we recognize that the technology industry historically lacks female representation, and we’ve worked intentionally to create a more equitable workplace. We’ve focused our efforts and have placed an emphasis on the increased need for senior female leadership within the Company that will provide more exposure and greater visibility for the woman at Vonage. We accomplish this through speaking or podcast engagements, access to executive courses through top business schools, and quarterly-sponsored networking events for Vonage women. Understanding that it’s not only about providing opportunities for exposure and elevating the voices of women, we also provide all team members with an annual membership to Brandon Hall’s Women in Leadership Platform, which provides access to research, publications, executive interviews, podcasts and webinars on leadership, as well as diversity and inclusion topics.
Amplifying Women’s Voices at Vonage
In March, team members started the process to create the Women at Vonage Employee Resource Group (ERG). This group will serve as a resource for supporting women and their allies as they create a space to address topics relevant to their experience. Siobhan Lettice, Senior Director, Solutions Engineering, EMEA, was inspired to start the Women’s ERG after learning about the recent work of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board. The Advisory Board sets the DE&I strategy for Vonage to build a framework to engage team members and attract talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences and promotes a culture that is inclusive and equitable.
“I could see there were a lot of people who were very passionate about the DE&I topics and initiatives, particularly women. I started looking for an existing Women’s ERG that I could join and possibly be an advocate and resource for my colleagues. I found that we didn’t have one yet and I thought why wait for one to be started when I could bring women together to create one,” said Lettice.
Fueled with a passion to make an impact and create a forum for her female colleagues, Lettice remains optimistic about the value that a Women-focused ERG could have for her colleagues. “This is an opportunity to gather together women who most likely have had very similar experiences. We have so much to offer each other in the form of support, education, collaboration, mentorship and more. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled with coming back to work after maternity leave, or who has struggled to communicate with confidence, for example. I know that sometimes those things can sound insignificant and intangible but they are important,” Lettice said.
Lettice hopes that the group will focus on four areas, communication & membership, development & progression, mentoring and events. Once the group starts holding meetings, she hopes people will come along to one of our sessions to learn more about the group. “We know that some members will be looking to take on a leadership role, or may want to contribute to an initiative in the group or just want to observe what we are doing and benefit from participating,” said Lettice.
Celebrating Women at Vonage
Women of Vonage Panel
Vonage also hosted several events for International Women’s Day starting with a Women of Vonage Panel featuring Nahrin Jalal, Developer Educator as moderator; and Amitha Pulijala, Director, Product for Video; Danielle Vergara, Director, Alliances; Lauren Lee, Developer Education Manager; and Marina Serrano Montes, Lead Application Developer as panelists. This accomplished group of women came together to share stories about the experiences they have had as women and advocates for women in the technology industry.
“For me, it was important to participate in the Woman of Vonage Panel to voice my support and to ensure I am doing all I can to encourage women in my organization. I also wanted to learn and feel encouraged from the stories shared by all of the fantastic women in the panel who are breaking the barriers at Vonage,” said Pulijala.
Vergara found inspiration to participate through this year’s International Women’s Day Choose the Challenge theme. “The Choose to Challenge theme and my personal motto of "do something every day that scares you" inspired me to join! I was scared because it was my first panel ever. I just wanted to make sure that I shared experiences people could relate to. Considering the live chats and all of the engagement that we had for the event, I realized that people could relate to my experiences and it has empowered me to share them with more people,” said Vergara.
International Women’s Day Vonage Celebration
Bethany Loft, Community Manager, was a key organizer for two roundtable discussions Vonage sponsored to acknowledge International Women’s Day. Panelists shared stories of their experiences with attendees before everyone separated into virtual breakout sessions. “I wanted to share my story as not only a woman at Vonage but a woman in the industry. I have met a lot of women through Vonage who have inspired me. I hope that I was able to give similar inspiration back out to them as well,” said Hillary Tapley, Sales Enablement.
For the event, we had the pleasure of welcoming Sharone Zitzman, co-founder and co-organizer of DevOpsDays Tel Aviv & Cloud Native Israel groups and Fawn Qiu, founder of Make Anything, an organization that empowers people from all technical backgrounds through creative technology workshops to share their experiences as women working in the technology industry. The panel was rounded out with four additional Vonage panelists, Tatiana Xyda, Enterprise Relationship Manager, Enterprise team; Siobhan Lettice, Senior Director for Solutions Engineering, Applications, EMEA; Hillary Tapley, Sales Trainer, Enablement Team, Applications; and Shenia Kirkland, Senior Marketing & Commercial Counsel and Co-Chair of the Vonage Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Board.
“International Women's Day was a great opportunity to come together as colleagues and discuss challenges faced by women in the workplace as well as celebrate the journeys of the women in our company. My favorite moments from the event were seeing how many thoughtful and interesting questions were asked by attendees to the speakers. They were really curious about the stories they had to share,” said Loft.
Joy Corso honored in Microsoft’s Women’s History Legacy Project
Chief Marketing Officer, Joy Corso, was recognized in the Women in Tech section in the Microsoft Legacy Project “Women’s History” experience for Women’s History Month. This was a virtual museum to recognize female changemakers and role models.
Take a Virtual Tour of the National Constitution Center
As a part of the Take a Virtual Tour of the National Constitution Center event that took place earlier in March, Vonage team members were invited to turn our eye toward history with a tour guide from the National Constitution Center who took us on a virtual tour of the triumphs and struggles of the 19th Amendment.
Women’s History Month 365
We believe in recognizing women and their contribution to society year-round. We also understand that gender disparity still exists. While the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, many women still faced barriers to exercise their right to vote, such as race and ethnicity. African Americans often encountered poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, violence and lynching as methods to prevent them from voting. Native Americans, who many weren’t made U.S. citizens until 1924, had their voting rights solidified with the passage of the 1965 Voting Act and the 1975 Voting Rights Act Amendment which added additional protection to prevent discrimination for language minority citizens. Also, while the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, Asian American immigrants only obtained the right to vote in 1943. As global citizens, we must remain empathetic to the plight of women who still face notable barriers in their quest for equity and equality. We must also remember while equality and equity may be law in some places, unconscious biases and practices may still surface. There will always be more we can do to amplify and elevate female voices and the access they have to equal opportunities.