"Allyship is vital in supporting and developing women working in technology"
It's nearly time for the Women in Tech Excellence Awards - a celebration of the inspiring women in our industry, as well as the work they're doing.
We had thousands of entries this year, meaning making the shortlist was an achievement in and of itself: so for a company to have eight finalists, as Morgan Stanley has done, is a stunning victory.
Liezel McCord, head of data governance & data management, explains that the company's commitment to representation and inclusion has helped to support the development of female talent at all levels of the business.
Why is women in technology an important issue for you and Morgan Stanley?
Liezel McCord: A core value of Morgan Stanley's is to commit to diversity and inclusion. The firm aims to create a representative, inclusive and equitable workplace where individuals, their perspectives and backgrounds enrich our collective experience. We want to work in an environment that represents the wider society. Through our internal Women in Technology network, we help to create a more inclusive environment and improve gender balance by empowering female technology talent. A key element, which is vital in supporting and developing women working in technology, is allyship. Allies can show their support in a number of ways, from ensuring female colleagues' opinions and contributions are getting their share in meetings, to professional development and sponsoring or mentoring women throughout their careers. With allies and role models as champions, we raise women's voices to ensure they are being heard.
I believe it is vital to support women at all levels in their career. Chairing the EMEA Women in Technology Steering Committee provides me with the opportunity to support and recognise individuals who are going above and beyond in their day-to-day jobs as well as in their contributions to the industry and the community. Creating a platform that builds role models at all levels is vital if we are to inspire and champion future female technology leaders.
How did you enter the IT industry?
LM: I was interested in technology from a very early age. I remember my father buying one of the first generation Apple Macs and my interest grew from there. I went on to study computer science at university, where I earned my BSc. I then starting my career as a software developer in the automotive industry.
Why do you think the IT industry is mainly male?
LM: Women are underrepresented in many industries, particularly at senior levels, and technology is no different. There are many reasons for this. For example, we know globally fewer women than men are studying STEM in higher education, which has an immediate impact on the pipeline of young women entering the field. This subsequently creates a dearth of talent, and of course a lack of role models down the line. Having positive role models helps influence the level of interest and type of conversations that girls have around their future careers. This is why it's so important to act now to ensure the industry is creating a strong platform for women to succeed. Future generations will witness these achievements and consider technology as a viable and positive career option. Driving these changes in education and across society is vital to address underrepresentation of women in technology, and I'm proud of the time and resources Morgan Stanley invests in this space.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
LM: I have learned many things during my career, but one that stands out for me is the realisation that mistakes, disappointments and perceived failures are opportunities for growth, development and new ventures. This is made possible by having a positive mind-set, self-belief and perseverance.
What are your three top tips for women looking to start a career in IT?
LM: 1) Perseverance is key to success: Never stop following your passion and believing in your dreams.
2) Get a mentor: There are many challenges and questions as a career grows. Having a sounding board and honest (that's the key) advice is invaluable, especially when self-doubts or difficult next steps present themselves.
3) Don't stand still: Keep growing, keep learning, be curious!