As Raymond Gilmartin, chairman and CEO of Merck, has stated, “The Competitive advantage in a business like ours rests on innovation. To succeed, we must bring together talented and committed people with diverse perspectives.”
This is just one of the eye-opening quotes I heard last week at the annual Women of the Channel Winter Workshop hosted by Everything Channel, in New York City. More than 125 channel leaders from North America were chosen to participate in this leadership conference-and I was one of the lucky women who got to participate in this enlightening event.
Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I’m Colleen Kapase (that is pronounced “cap say” in case you are wondering), Sr. Director of VMware Partner Strategy, and this is my first VMware blog. I just came back from this inspirational workshop, and on the plane ride home, I had a chance to reflect on my experience and how, as a whole, diversity in the workplace promotes innovation.
We heard from speakers such as Patricia Hume, VP of SAP’s Global Indirect Sales and Carol Giles Neslund, VP of Avaya US Channels. I joined them in a panel lead by columnist Katherine Boehret of The Wall Street Journal. New York decked out for the holidays made a perfect backdrop to the event.
As part of an ever-changing and fast-paced business environment, I talk with partners in all parts of the world who are working to differentiate their business. One main theme I hear over and over again is that having creative people with different perspectives come together is the most productive way to foster new ideas. This means we can no longer rely on the traditional homogeneous environment for innovation.
I also learned that while 51% of the workforce is women, women make up less than 16% of executive staff. Our evolving workforce demographics highlight the need for executive women to mentor and support diversity in all ranks of an organization to make sure these new voices and ideas are heard. One of the executive women at the workshop talked about what a great accomplishment it has been to be part of the executive teams, but if there is only one woman sitting at the table, it is lonely at the top and is still not changing the conversation.
Here are some examples of how diversification and new perspectives make a difference.
What if women had been on the development teams?:
- Women would not design a PDA specifically or primarily to fit in a man's shirt pocket.
- Women would not design car airbags that are likely to seriously injure or kill people when they deploy.
And on the flip side, 30 women were involved in the design of the Ford Windstar. As a result, the Windstar:
- Won the five-star governmental award (the highest) for frontal crash tests.
- It included such features as
- Reverse sensing system that beeped to warn backing-up drivers of objects in the way.
- Sliding doors on both sides that could be opened by clicks on the key fob.
How can you foster innovation and support the women you know – those on your team, your sisters, mothers, daughters? Here are just a few ways that you can strengthen and diversify your own teams. I highly encourage you to pass this information along to the professional women you know.
- VMware is championing its own event “VMware Women of Purpose” at on February 8, 2011, build the networking of professional women and foster new relationships and promote innovation
- Encourage attendance at the annual event hosted by Everything Channel – Women in the Channel event in 2011
- Mentor, promote and encourage your women employees to take on leadership qualities and positions
Together, we can help create and support the diverse environment we need to be successful – Ultimately helping to develop the most innovative and best business ideas for 2011 and beyond.
Good Selling and Happy Holidays,
Sr. Director of VMware Partner Strategy