Gavriella Schuster Become Allies A framework for change
Gavriella Schuster Become Allies A framework for change

I am thrilled to share with you my new eBook – BeCOME ALLIES eBook: A framework for change.  It is hot off the digital press, and I would be honored if you would download and give it a read. This eBook guides readers through my framework for how to BeCOME an ally (a champion for women in the workplace) and the actions ALLIES take each day to make a difference.

I call on each person reading this eBook, regardless of gender, to BeCOME an agent of change—BeCOME an ally. I don’t expect you to do it without guidance. In my TEDx Talk, I outlined my framework for how to BeCOME an ally: Connect, Outreach, Mentor, and Empower. This framework addresses four fundamental methods to create a multiplier effect and get more women into tech. This eBook goes deeper into the framework and expands on the fourth method, Empower, with six additional actions you can take each day to help make our industry better, stronger, and more inclusive.

Actor Victor Webster said, “Everything we do, even the slightest thing we do, can have a ripple effect and repercussions that emanate. If you throw a pebble into the water on one side of the ocean, it can create a tidal wave on the other side.”

Consider the actions captured in this eBook your pebbles. Together, let’s throw them courageously and with purpose. Hopefully, on the other end, we’ll create a tidal wave of change.

BeCOME an Ally | Breaking through the gender equity divide

BeCOME, Connect, Outreach, Mentor, Empower

Have you ever been fed up with something and thought to yourself, “WAIT! Why am I putting up with this?” I had one of those moments a few years ago and it set me on a path of change—a path that took an exciting turn a few months ago.

In November 2020, I had the honor of giving a TEDx talk about something that has brought me heartache for years: the gender equity gap in the technology industry. After 30-years of regularly being the only woman in the room, I’m hopeful that sharing my story on the TEDx stage will be a catalyst for scalable change.

BeCOME and Ally: How to achieve gender equity

In the talk, I share personal stories about feeling invisible at work, as if I’m wearing an invisibility cloak that I just can’t take off. I know many of you can relate—you know, when you share your perspective in a meeting and are met with deafening silence? I can’t tell you the number of times that’s happened to me.  

To be fair, I’ve worked with many kind and inclusive allies throughout my career. And Microsoft, like many organizations, have taken this challenge head-on—making great strides with allyship training and a clear focus on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion. It’s been encouraging to see the progress we’ve made so far.

Unfortunately, in our industry as a whole, there just isn’t enough forward movement. So, by sharing my personal experiences, I hope to create a force-multiplier effect, where we can harness collective power to make change and ultimately bring gender equity to technology. But if we don’t act fast, we’re in trouble.

When I started in the technology industry in 1991, 36% of the computing workforce was women. In 2019, that number had fallen to 27%. We’re going the wrong direction, and it will soon get even worse.

The jobs being displaced through digital transformation disproportionately impact women and people of color. And that creates a perfect storm: by percentage, there are fewer women in technology, there are more jobs in technology, and yet there are more women being displaced by the technology. This is truly a crisis.

The good news is, we have the collective power to do something about it. Through technology democratization, purpose-driven leadership and male allyship, we can close the gap of inequity and create a new narrative. 

We need to add 8 million women to the technology workforce in order to achieve gender equity in the industry. With roughly 4 million in tech today, we have a long way to go. But with your help, we can create access and opportunity. We can #BeCOME agents of change by embracing four simple actions.

Connect | Make intentional connections with women in your network. Reach out and give women access to you and everyone in your community.

Outreach | Examine recruiting practices, hiring practices, and supplier selection practices. When you post a job, do you screen out candidates or do you screen in for diversity?

 Mentor | I would not be where I am today without the many men and women who have mentored me along the way. When you mentor, you blaze a trail for others to follow.

 Empower | The most impactful thing you can do for another human being is to empower them—to lift them up and create an inclusive environment that gives voice to everyone and allows people to be heard and seen for who they are.

In my TEDx talk I share examples of people I know who are walking the walk, like @Jennifer Didier who is the President and founder of our partner @Directions Training. Tired of seeing only men in her training programs, she set aside profit and created a scholarship program to bring free technical training and technical certification to women. And through her single intentional act, she has fundamentally changed the career trajectory for 70 women.

Another example is @Mal McHutchinson from @Interactive IT in Australia. He helped sponsor an organization called Male Champions for Change, which is dedicated to driving for gender diversity in high-tech.  And within his own organization, he has made a commitment to make his cyber security practice 50% women. That’s intentional leadership.

Through connection, outreach, mentorship, and empowerment, we can build healthier workplace cultures. We can attract new employees, customers, and investors. We can increase opportunities for all women and build a new generation of leaders that understand the value of equity.

We can do it. But it will take intentional action. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

Over the next four weeks, I’ll be posting articles here on LinkedIn about each of the four actions we can take to #BeCOME agents of change and help women take off their invisibility cloak.

LinkedIn Top Voices in Gender Equity

LinkedIN Top Voices
LinkedIN Top Voices

When I left Microsoft a few months ago to turn my focus and my energy on the issue of driving for gender equity, particularly in high tech, to pave the way for other women to succeed and try to break down the headwinds that hold so many great women from receiving the recognition and support they deserve, I was hoping that I could fuel momentum. I am incredibly grateful and duly impressed by the many women I have connected with and discovered who are also driving for the same change – lending their voices, energy and sweat equity to this incredibly important issue.

I am even more humbled and honored to be considered an influencer among some of the most esteemed women in this space. Thank you http(99+) LinkedIn Top Voices in Gender Equity: The 15 creators to follow | LinkedIn  for drawing attention to this important topic and continuing to fuel the momentum on the movement for gender equity.

Like so many women, there have been moments when I felt like I did not belong. So many meetings where I was the only woman in the room and I would speak up only to be ignored and have my ideas repeated by another man several minutes later and have it hailed as a brilliant contribution. This has happened so many times to me that I have developed my own strategies for building allies prior to there being a name for this role. I discovered the value that allies can provide and how meaningful it is for a man to recognize when I have been interrupted or when my idea was miscredited in a way that did not “rescue me” for I did not need that, but instead empowered me by interrupting the flow and making space for me to step into it. I am so grateful for the many allies that I have enlisted throughout my career and it is what has fueled my passion to document my experiences and the actions these individuals took as my allies.

2022 is the year we #breakthebias and #becomeallies to disrupt the status quo, take action and make change. Congratulations to the incredibly impactful women recognized for their contributions. On this #IWD2022, let’s build the movement and drive the change!