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International Women’s Day: The need for diversity continues

Diversity in the channel has improved and Vivienne Francis, a senior channel executive at Motorola Solutions, is making sure that trend continues

The channel has worked hard on increasing diversity over the past few years and there are now more women in leadership positions across the industry.

Marking International Women’s Day, MicroScope got the chance to get an insight from Vivienne Francis, channel vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Motorola Solutions, into her journey to her current position.

How important is it for the tech world to have diversity?

Diversity and inclusion is a vitally important area, and not just within the tech world. Diversity powers a team’s performance, which, coupled with a culture of inclusion, means companies will see improved engagement and productivity.

By ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce, we enable people to learn and have greater levels of innovation – together we are better and stronger as a collective.

What attracted you to the world of IT?

Initially, I had always wanted to be a physical education teacher, but as I embarked on my studies I realised that I enjoyed the participation side far more than the teaching.

I moved into my first IT role in 1985 in field services for a large US manufacturer. After three years, I moved to an end-user sales role, followed by my first role working for a large channel organisation – my forte.

The thing I enjoy most about the world of IT is the dynamic pace, especially in the channel business. It relies on effective collaboration, effective communication and resilience, – and every day is different.

Are you optimistic that more women are entering the industry?

Absolutely. The industry has progressed in the past few years and we have seen an uptick in the number of women looking at careers in IT. There is still work to do though.

We have to encourage young women at a grassroots level to show an interest in the industry, particularly when they’re considering their career options. It’s vital to make it clear that this is an industry with a huge range of opportunities where women can thrive.

What advice would you give to those trying to encourage more diversity?

First, companies need to be aware of unconscious bias – understanding this is the first step towards change. One way to do this is by helping employees understand the impact that unconscious bias has on individuals. Promoting equity is critical for providing fair opportunities for each employee and to level out the playing field.

One way of attracting talent is by increasing the visibility of diverse senior women as role models. It’s about showing the positives and inspiring the next generation to consider the industry. I’m incredibly proud to run a series with women in my network called “TEA (Together Empower and Accelerate) with Viv”. These collaborative sessions offer an opportunity for us all to discuss the experiences that have shaped our careers, the highlights and challenges, and how the current pandemic has influenced our lives.  

The power of sharing stories with one another highlights how we can empower each other to be strong role models, which in turn helps encourage more diversity. Listening is also essential as it helps demonstrate a good level of understanding.

And finally, on a personal level, my favourite piece of advice is to be confident and remain authentic when building your network inside and outside your place of work. For me, my network has been a real support circle throughout my career and it’s something I’d encourage everyone to work on.

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