Valuable Insights from Sue Urses, VP of Human Resources at Ivanti
With the launch of the results of our women in technology survey, we took the opportunity to chat with Sue Urses, VP of Human Resources at Ivanti, about her experiences and thoughts on how businesses can better support women at work. Below are her insights.
Being a woman working outside the home in any industry is challenging, but in the highly competitive and largely male dominated high-tech industry, women continue to be as elusive as a unicorn. This is especially true when you look at engineering and other technical roles. At Ivanti, we know that women are integral in creating strong, diverse teams. Diverse teams approach problem solving and solution creation from multiple perspectives that exclusively male teams simply can’t.
Ivanti Culture Supports Women
It’s with that in mind that at Ivanti, we are employing strategies to build a culture that will meet and support the needs of women in the work environment. We believe a family centric culture, with ample flexibility, is an absolute MUST for women today.
I know as I began my career in the late eighties/early nineties, if I wanted to compete with my male counterparts, I had to make heartbreaking choices. Not just once, but over and over again. I made a choice to sacrifice my (unpaid) maternity leave and bonding time with my newborn daughter in order to just maintain my career position and status. In order to advance…the sacrifices only continued. I agonized about how to care for a child with a cold or flu and still attend that critical meeting. I missed more than one school play or performance. My husband and I juggled who had to use their vacation/holiday time-off to stay home with that same child when she was on break from school, rather than using that vacation/holiday time to reconnect as a family or just recharge the batteries. Opportunity for personal fulfilment sat firmly on the back-burner until my daughter went off to college herself. Guilt was nearly a constant companion during those years.
Then it was my daughter’s turn to face those same decisions. She chose a path opposite of mine. She put her career on hold to be home with her daughters, my granddaughters. Those were the only two options available to her. So many years later, women (and sometimes men) continue to have to make these kinds of heartbreaking choices… or do they? Can we create a culture where young women (like my granddaughters) can do both? Can we have a career and a family and be successful at both?
Attracting and retaining women, at all stages of their careers, is a complex equation and problem to solve. I believe one solution is to create work environments that enable women to have a career without sacrificing their family (and a little time for themselves) – guilt free and without negative consequences. An environment where work/life balance isn’t a sign of weakness, or of choices not made. Rather valued for the meaningful contributions that can be made in both worlds.
At Ivanti, we are making conscious and deliberate changes to our policies and benefit offerings, and ultimately our culture, to make these heart-breaking choices a thing of the past. We will be introducing:
- More paid parental leave programs (maternal and paternal).
- More opportunities to work remotely and flexibly.
- Job sharing programs for people with young children who may want to work, but not necessarily full-time or not necessarily during traditional business hours. We recognize that the delivery of a quality, innovative work product becomes more important, than the time of day that produce is produced.
All of this to make it easier for women and men to work AND raise their families. Breaking these barriers can make a huge difference in enabling more women to pursue careers in today’s highly competitive, high-tech industry.