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Maxie McCoy

Why Our Future Depends on Investing in Women

Most places you look, half of our population is underrepresented. From government positions to corporate leadership, women are consistently a minority in business and beyond. While there is a whole heck of a lot of factors that have led us to this point, there’s also a bright, bright hope for the future. Companies, organization, and individuals around the world are seeking to change that.

And why wouldn’t they? Advancing women’s equality would add 12 trillion dollars to the global GDP according to a recent study by Mckinsey.  T-w-e-l-v-e   t-r-i-l-l-i-o-n.

It’s economics. It’s humanity. And it’s important. For us to get there, though, we need help making sure that the future is painted with women at the helm. From the direction our country is going to the next wave of technology creation, an equal representation of the ladies will guarantee success. Because, if you didn’t already know, when diversity is represented, companies are 15% more likely to experience above-average financial returns.

The future is going to happen, and thanks to some very committed companies, leaders and organizations, it’s going to happen with women helping to steer the course. One area that has consistently seen the underrepresentation of women and received intense scrutiny is the technology sector. 50% of women with careers in STEM fields will eventually leave because of hostile work environments. HALF. The ‘brogramming’ culture found in hotbeds of innovation turns women away in droves, which our future cannot afford.

Capital One is one company who decided to lay the foundation for inclusion far before they had a problem thanks to leadership who was listening and a few brave young professionals who spoke up. One of them, Katie Thompson, a software engineer in mobile app development at Capital One was paying attention to reports of non-inclusive cultures coming out of Silicone Valley and chose to begin the conversation internally. She was met with enthusiasm, support and most importantly action.

Thompson noted that the action was intentional from the top down. Research had already been started on how to make sure the culture at Capital One was inclusive for women, but they began implementing task forces, company-wide initiatives and a commitment to recruiting engineers and developers who would elevate the culture of inclusiveness.

When asked how other companies can take a page out of Capital One’s book, Katie had this to say, “The most important thing is that someone at the top has to communicate and make sure that everyone knows this is an important value to the company…You need the top down command support. While ALSO needing a grassroots support base…people who are enthusiastic.”

That grassroots support base of enthusiastic internal teammates goes wide at Capital One, and Brianna Crab is one of them. Based in Richmond, Brianna is a software engineer in enterprise architecture at Capital One, and she volunteers her time as the co-director of Women Who Code chapter in Richmond.

Brianna experienced first-hand what an inclusive culture, a community of colleagues who support women excelling in STEM, and how small moments can have a big impact. There was a time when she thought she too would leave computer programming. Out of college, Brianna figured she’d hone her developing skills then move over to business. That all changed when she found a company, Capital One, who gave her the resources to develop and more importantly gave her the confidence to see a future in STEM. Now, she’s committed to being that same beacon of hope for other women that her Capital One community has been for her.

“I have hope for the future. I’m thankful for the knowledge and support that I’ve gained and I want to help share that knowledge and give other women that support. I know it’s possible because I’ve been part of the leaky pipeline and I saw how one small plug into a group or diverse team brings awareness that you can easily plug that pipeline. Small things have big differences,” she says. And that they do.

Having a supportive culture and a company that continually invests in tech and invests in a woman’s place there is guaranteed to give our future more promise – because tech touches everything. Including the communities of women far and wide who will be coming together in Houston, Texas for Grace Hopper. Grace Hopper, sponsored by companies like Capital One, celebrates women like Katie and Brianna in computer sciences. It’s this commitment to community which will help women everywhere see that they’re not alone and they have people around them who can help move obstacles so they can go on to elevate our future one woman at a time.

 


The rocketship of my career was working for a technology startup. I saw first hand how important having women at the helm of the future of innovation is, which is why I’m proud to partner with Capital One to sponsor this post. These are my opinions, obviously. Learn more about Capital One here.

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