Actionable career advice for aspiring female leaders

Women Leaders

by Nikki Wilton, Global Sales Director, Xchanging, a DXC Company

All the stats say that we need more Women in Leadership, but the situation hasn’t changed much in the last ten years. McKinsey predicts that if the pace of change continues at this rate it’ll take another 100 years, or 5 generations, to reach any equal balance at the top. That’s despite the data that says for every 10% of women in senior management positions; the profitability impact is somewhere between 2-4%. When you think about it, that’s an appealing statistic – 30% gender diversity could take your bottom line up by between 6-12% . Meanwhile, according to DDI, the top 20 performing companies have senior leadership teams that are almost 40% composed of women – compared to 19% for the lowest performers.

The situation in technology is arguably the most challenging of all. Over 56% of women who join our industry will quit mid-career. So what can we do about it, and whose responsibility is it to drive that change?


Editor’s Note: Hi readers, it’s Cat! Our guest blogger Nikki is in the process of piloting a course for DXC aimed at advancing our high potential female leaders through the pipeline and into jobs at the top. The course, which touches on unconscious bias and underestimation as previously mentioned, also lets you reflect on what you may need to brush up on; confidence, over preparing and other little blunders we may or may not have. We are hoping to launch this course in September 2017. Please join this webinar on 16th August to learn more. If you are interested in registering for the full course, please contact Nikki with your name and current role.


Taking action

Back in 2016, I was invited to sit on the Diversity Steering Committee at Xchanging, chaired by Craig Wilson, our former CEO. Up to that point, as a global sales leader, I’d never even given diversity a passing thought, much less “unconscious bias” or the “female talent pipeline.” Surely, these were HR concerns, right?

As an outcome of this committee, I was persuaded to write a blog aimed at attracting more female applicants. I’d never written one before – but as I assumed that no one would ever read it anyway, I wrote a frank and honest account of what it was like to be me. The article got 19,000 hits. I was horrified – what on earth had I said that might have generated so much interest? I was also secretly delighted, as I had nearly as many hits as a blog by Martha Lane Fox! My interest was piqued, and I started to pay a bit more attention.

At Xchanging, our gender diversity across the business was high, but in our senior leadership teams, 87% of those leaders were men. Determined to empower a new wave of female leaders, Craig sponsored an initiative to pilot “Women in Action” a course delivered by Skillsoft and specifically designed to accelerate women’s careers.

Delivered as a group, the course was a “wake up call” for every woman who saw it through, and rather than focusing on the things women can’t change, it provided actionable advice on how we could move forward. Not only that, it was liberating to share experiences and understand how and why the unique skills and perspectives of our gender make a significant contribution to delivering profitable growth. Conversely, understanding where we come up short, need a little more polish or perhaps need a push was equally motivational.

Undeniable results

As a leader, to watch as a team becomes inspired, empowered and motivated is immensely rewarding. Of our pilot, 50% of our participants have changed roles, all cite more confidence, 80% have increased their networking and social media profiles, and every single one of them now threads strategic and financial data through their communications. We all have a better perspective on our desire for perfection and a much more bullish approach to taking that next career step.

So what’s next? Armed with evidence of such positive results, I tailored the course and started a process to cascade the learning. Today the next group of 20 women in the UK and India is midway through our very own pilot launch “Heels on Wheels.” Taking the best that Skillsoft has to offer, some great external content and some very generous DXC leaders who have donated their time, we have a unique experience for our next generation of female leaders. I hope that, in turn, these women will be as inspired as I was to “hold out their hands” and cascade this experience across our business.

Recently, I had a thank you email from one of my younger students that provided incontrovertible proof of the value of the programme. It simply said, “You have given me wings.”


Nikki Wilton

Nikki Wilton is the Global Sales Director of Xchanging at DXC Technology. With over 25 years’ experience in the technology industry, Nikki is passionate about solving clients’ business challenges through the innovative use of technology. At Xchanging, Nikki has taken established digital competencies and translated these into an array of customer focused digitised solutions, solving core issues for clients caught between legacy investment and the need to engage with a new millennial market place. A founding Exec of Interest in the Xchanging / Skillsoft “Women in Action” initiative, and inspired by the outcomes of the course, Nikki promotes and leads this programme for aspiring women across the Xchanging business.

RELATED LINKS

Are women leaders the mothers of transformation?

Winning through diversity

Your business skills are valuable to technology companies

Comments

  1. The advice and sessions I took has immensely helped me to think and approach my career and everyday work in a completely different mode. I have benefitted out of this sessions. I hope this rare initiative would be available for many young career women to build their own career perspective.

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  2. Cathartic says:

    To contact Nikki please use this email: Nicola.Wilton@xchanging.com 🙂

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  3. Tracey Andrew says:

    I thoroughly recommend participating in this programme. It is very inspiring and will assist you in progressing your career

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  4. Debbie Jones says:

    I’m on the current “Heels on Wheels” programme that Nikki is delivering. She is truly passionate about the this topic. The programme content and the way that Nikki delivers it makes it a truly empowering and confidence boosting experience.

    I can honestly say that I’m now doing things that, 3 months ago, I would never have believed I would be doing and that’s in part down to the confidence I’ve gained on the programme.

    I’ve also been lucky enough, via the programme, to have joined a great new network of like-minded women.

    My message to any women out there is that if you get a chance to go on any further runs of this programme then grab it with both hands – you WILL get so much out of it.

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  5. Angela Bylett says:

    This course was a real “game changer”; a chance to invest time in the development of my career, learning from like minded women and stepping outside my comfort zone. I definitely learnt a great deal from others and indeed about myself. It’s so liberating to be in an environment where you feel you can speak honestly and freely.Nikki is an inspirational leader and I highly recommend this course.

    Like

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