Posted by Kathy Zwickert, Chief People Officer, NetSuite
When a colleague attended the Amazon Web Services conference in Las Vegas in 2012, he was struck when he looked around at a session entitled “AWS Security” and noticed that among the roughly 500 people in the room, there was not a single woman.
What made it even more striking to Chris Blum, our Chief Security Architect at NetSuite, was when he heard the fact that the cybersecurity job market is currently suffering a severe workforce shortage that is expected to last years, as the profession grows at less than 36 per year.
Blum passed along that anecdote at a recent Girl Geek dinner hosted by NetSuite at its San Mateo headquarters, a very different environment than the one at AWS.
“Women are nearly absent from the cybersecurity industry and there are not enough people to fill the jobs,” Blum said. “At the current growth rates, it will take three years to bring gender parity to the cybersecurity workforce if 55 percent of all new hires into the industry per year are women.”
That grim statistic is the very kind of thing Girl Geek dinners are attempting to address. They are the result of one girl geek who got frustrated about being one of the only females attending technical events and being asked to justify why she was there by her male counterparts. That has evolved into dinners and networking events around the world.
At the San Mateo event, Blum’s session, as well as one about trends in omnichannel commerce led by Rebecca Nathenson, the director of commerce product management at NetSuite, really resonated with attendees.
“I really appreciated the focus on security and technology, so many other events focus on the softer topics,” wrote one attendee in a follow up questionnaire. “It was very interesting.”
“I loved the presentation on omnichannel commerce,” wrote another. “Just the right mix of technical and business. I also loved the vibe of the NetSuite women. I feel like I need events like this where I can get a brief glimpse into the culture of a company, and while no place is perfect for women yet, I could see that you are light years ahead of my current company.”
NetSuite elected to sponsor a dinner as part of our commitment to innovation and women in tech roles at NetSuite. As we see it, a commitment to diversity means more than a panel discussion on women in technology at a user conference. It demands ongoing commitment. The Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner is part of our ongoing commitment to diversity led by the Women in NetSuite (WIN) program that has helped drive a new maternity policy, helped promote more women into leadership positions at NetSuite and created extra opportunities for learning and networking.
The Girl Geek dinner was a terrific opportunity to focus on another of our core initiatives – recruitment. We’re committed to bringing in talented women to bring more diversity to the NetSuite workforce.
Because, as research from Catalyst and Leanin.org has shown, diversity matters. Fortune500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance than those with the lowest representation. Companies with the highest percentage of women board directors outperformed those with the least across equity, sales and invested capital, according to the research. And that’s just one small data point demonstrating the value of diversity. We know there will be more and we expect to see those results at NetSuite.
For more on NetSuite, visit our NetSuite careers page.