For Julie Woods-Moss, CMO and CEO of Next-Gen Business at Tata Communications, advancing women in the comms space is not about creating a women-only club. Instead it's about creating a "winning mix" of men and women who work together to create family-friendly policies, practices, development, training and networking.
In fact, Woods-Moss is the founder of Tata Communications Ltd. 's Winning Mix program, which supports women at the company with the inclusion of men and programs driven at the corporate level.
Light Reading's Women in Comms checked in with Woods-Moss to learn more about it, as well as get her perspective on challenges, advantages and rewards of being a woman in comms.
Light Reading: What is the number one challenge for women in comms that is different from the challenges faced by men? What was your biggest hurdle?
Julie Woods-Moss: It's not that men don't want to work with women; they do. It's just that we all have unconscious biases and most men in comms studied with men, mostly work with men and play sports with men. So, men are just more comfortable with other men. So if you help people understand their own biases and improve self-awareness, the journey towards inclusion of all minority groups, including women, can begin.
The biggest hurdle is that companies that don't embrace diversity are less innovative than those that do. Creativity comes from bringing together different experiences and points of view. For example with gender balance, any team with more than 60/70% of either sex will most often be less impactful.
Light Reading: What is the biggest advantage to being a woman in the comms industry?
JWM: It's great to be a role model and to inspire other women. You don't have to act like a man and dress like a man to do well in comms.
Light Reading: How can we, as an industry, encourage more young girls to enter – and stay in – the comms or STEM space?
JWM: We can showcase the exciting parts of the industry and how STEM impacts lives. Millennial girls have different interest and priorities from Gen X and Gen Y. I think the Internet of Things, particularly consumer wearables, is a great catalyst. That's where fashion, pop culture, big data and cloud converge. I like to tell young women how we are developing bespoke Internet bikes with Google and training 500,000 women in India to be the Internet gurus in their communities. This is how technology changes lives. Young women can be inspired that it is digital inclusion and comms that will bring prosperity to the next two billion who don't have access to the Internet today.
Light Reading: Are there any programs you or your organization is involved with that you'd like to highlight?
JWM: I am the founding member of the Winning Mix group. It's a hybrid initiative, which blends an informal network within Tata Communications supported by a set of programs driven from a corporate perspective. We strive to make our company a great place for women to work and thrive but we can't do that with some "women's only club," and we have found that many of our best advocates for the Winning Mix are men who care just as much for themselves, their wives and daughters, and that all talent regardless of gender is embraced.
Our focus is in three areas: family friendly policies and practices, development and training and networking. Examples include a wider adoption of part-time and home working in countries in Asia, where it really isn't the norm as well and individual programs. For example, a female executive just moved to a new job from Mumbai to London. Through the Winning Mix network she already had a great support network in place, including a local mentor and a coach to support the cultural transition.
Tata Communications uses Everwise, a resource for matching pre-vetted mentors with men and women who want to be mentored. The women in Tata Communications have really responded well to the opportunity to have a safe environment to learn and grow.
Light Reading: As a leader, what is the number one piece of personal advice you would give to help women achieve their goals?
JWM: Two things: Find a mentor, and do something you love. Passion crosses all barriers!
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP