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Women In Comms

Service Providers Debate Workplace Inclusion

AUSTIN, Texas -- Women in Comms at BCE -- There are a lot of notes to hit when it comes to creating diversity in the workplace for women and minorities, but a simple mantra for everyone involved is to "be inclusive."

Creating an inclusive environment was one of the themes at Women in Comms' service provider panel on Monday afternoon focused on "diversity, company culture and male allies."

Representing the male allies' perspective, the panel included Boingo Wireless Inc. CTO Derek Peterson and James Feger, vice president, infrastructure support at CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL).

"I think its very important to get everyone involved, men especially," Peterson said of increasing diversity in the workplace. "It's not something that they're aware of unless it's in front of them."

Peterson said his company has a "Women in Boingo" group that started about a year ago, but he wasn't aware of it for six months. With men attending the group's functions, "it really widens everyone's viewpoint," he said. Peterson estimated that Boingo had hired 25% more women so far in 2016 than it did the previous year. (See WiC Radio: Boingo's Tech Diversity Mandate.)

Boingo also has a SPIRIT initiative, with the "s" and the "t" standing for being supportive and having transparency. (See Boingo Cultivates a New Spirit.)

"We have to be transparent to work with each other," he said. "We have to open ourselves up."

Feger said CenturyLink also had an informal diversity group that he initially wasn't aware of, but -- by making it more inclusive -- he and the other men at the company became increasingly interested and involved.

An Inclusive Panel
From left: Maggie Bellville, Nelly Pitocco, Derek Peterson, James Feger and Liz Coyne discuss how to build a fully inclusive workplace.
From left: Maggie Bellville, Nelly Pitocco, Derek Peterson, James Feger and Liz Coyne discuss how to build a fully inclusive workplace.

Fellow panelist Maggie Bellville, vice president of Hitachi Consulting, took exception to the informal diversity groups that Feger and Peterson spoke about, calling instead for a more formalized structure.

"We need formal measurement tools that measure CEOs and companies on an annual basis so it's in the light of day," Bellville said.

Moderator and Light Reading Managing Editor Liz Coyne asked the panelists how the panelists could increase diversity in their teams.

"I pluck the little roses," Bellville said. "If I see someone sharp, I want them on my team. I push diversity because we need it."

Nelly Pitocco, vice president of enterprise sales at Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), said that although she had only been in her current position for two months, she tries to ensure that she has diversity on her team and treat everyone as individuals, rather than genders.

"I have women and minorities on my team because it's the right thing to do," she said. "What I generally try to do is proactive inclusive management. I try to understand each person's skills."

— Mike Robuck, editor, Telco Transformation

Kelsey Ziser 5/24/2016 | 11:12:04 AM
Inclusion I like the "be inclusive" mantra and that one speaker stressed focusing on people as individuals rather than genders. We have a long way to go to really support diversity and workplace inclusion, but reading about panels like this one is so encouraging!
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