When it comes to encouraging more women into senior positions, Monika Fahlbusch argues, in the second of our interviews, that where there’s a will there’s a way.
“You need a plan to make it happen”. That is the view of Monika Fahlbusch, Chief Employee Experience Officer at US company BMC Software.
The company employs people around the world, a large proportion of this being women, making it in line with the rest of the tech industry which typically employs around 25% of the entire workforce as women. But, like many firms in IT, as well as other industries, very few are in the boardroom.
She says that, while the UK has made a positive contribution to equal opportunities on the legislative side, it lags behind the US in terms of attitude and willingness to make changes. This, Monika explains, is partly down to an American cultural norm of, if change is on the way, everyone wants to get there first.
“I would strongly encourage – if I were sitting with a room of CEOs in the UK – to create a plan and execute that plan,” Monika states. “This isn’t a lack of opportunity, it’s a lack of will, in my opinion. And there is absolutely nothing stopping them from doing it. There isn’t a talent deficit. I reject the idea that they can’t find anyone.”
“There are many amazing women in my personal network who are ready and able to be on boards today. And some of them are but they have capacity to do more than one.”
She is keen to point out that recruiting more women at senior level doesn’t require a cultural shift. It’s more a case of supporting them when they get there.
“In my company, I’m one of the only woman in the C suite and the only woman in every board meeting, by and large,” Monika reveals. “When a woman is invited then I will take her aside and tell her what it’s going to be like. Knowing her topic, I’d talk with a couple of other people about what she was going to be presenting and ask them to support her. Set her up for success.”
From her own experience, Monika is passionate about the role mentors play in helping women to move up the professional ladder. Her own mentor, who has supported her for around 15 years, has, she says, been a critical part of her career.
“He gives me the straight scoop,” she says. “He’ll sometimes tell me exactly what I don’t want to hear, which is exactly what I do need to hear. Now, I’m trying to do a good job of giving back, to be that person for others.”
It’s not essential that the mentor should be a CEO. They should, however, be a person of influence, or a person higher than you as they will be the ones guiding you to the next step.