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Working collaboratively to create industry specific goals and opportunities for women in tech – Melissa Di Donato, Chair of the 30% Club technology group

Melissa Di Donato

Melissa Di Donato is Area Vice President, Salesforce.com Channels and ISVs / EMEA and APAC (Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia Pacific). She runs the independent sales force (ISV) programme for Salesforce.com, which entails leading teams that recruit partners, developers, large corporates, ISVs and entrepreneurs to build mobile, social and high performance business applications in the platform. Melissa has previously worked for organisations including IBM, PwC and Oracle. 

Melissa Di Donato
Melissa Di Donato

On 22nd April 2015, The 30% Club launched its technology group that will work to increase female representation on the board of technology companies. The group includes representatives from major technology organisations including: Brunswick Group, Cisco, Misys, TechUK and vmWare, in addition to Salesforce.com. The group will be chaired by Melissa. 

30% Club technology group structure how it will work

I’m leading a steering committee with senior executives – a mix of men and women – across several sectors of technology in the UK. We’re currently looking to recruit technology-specific member companies – both core technologies as well as IT leaders from UK businesses and I do expect the group will continue to grow and develop in the coming months.

Group’s initial priorities

Currently, we’re finalising a number of priorities for both short term (one year and medium-term two years) right now, but I’m most focused on growing our technology company base and on outlining events for the upcoming London Technology Week, developing future inclusive events to drive awareness, involvement and best practices for tech companies across the UK with a focused mission of increasing the number of executive women making to the boardroom of technology companies.

I’m also working with the steering committee to identify the tech sectors we will focus on and how best to address these different sectors with appropriate work streams, and we’re looking to create a cross company leadership scheme – sharing concepts and programmes across the tech industry (what works and what does not work) that help create focus on increasing the number of women who are industry leaders and serving on UK company boards.

Finally, a project dear to my heart and one of our goals is to create a programme dedicated specifically to STEM and the growth of STEM for young women via supported incubators and mentoring schemes.

Demonstrating opportunities for women in tech

I don’t think that technology is necessarily non-inclusive. I think it’s a combination of two issues – that women don’t necessarily perceive technology as an industry to pursue, and that technology businesses haven’t had the base of female interest to make it something that’s peeped above the waterline.

I think we’ve been getting to that critical mass over the past few years and the time for action is now – and most of the technology companies I see, including my own employers (Salesforce) are actively interested in making the industry more appealing and fielding more senior women leaders to demonstrate what a great opportunity it holds. I can tell you now that it’s been an incredible industry for my career and I would love more young women to have these opportunities.

How male colleagues can help

Men are critical to success of the tech group of the 30% Club – we are actively calling for men to be steering company representatives and leaders of member companies, because it’s important that they are exposed to some of the issues that women face in choosing a career in technology and more importantly, the issues that can stop women from continuing their careers as they move to the top and into the boardroom.

Everyone on the steering committee, women and men alike, is focused on creating the programming that helps women understand the significant opportunity to lead and succeed within the technology industry and in technology departments across the UK.

Success of women at one level of an organisation reinforcing the success of women at other points in their career journey

I believe that women cannot be what they cannot see. Women in the industry have to be visible and provide clear role models both for women within their companies as well as in the industry as a whole. Within our steering committee, we will look at opportunities to showcase these role models so that younger women can see what is exciting and interesting about a leadership role within technology.

Women from different sectors working together under the 30% Club umbrella

Women will be a critical part of the 30% Club steering committee and we want to ensure every tech sector is represented. It’s going to be a very inclusive group, as technology is such a critical part of every industry today. Sharing our knowledge and our best practices will help us create industry-specific goals and opportunities for women in every company.

How Womanthology readers can get involved

I hope that every Womanthology reader understands that they can participate in the future of the UK by becoming mentors, role models and of course attending our events and joining our committees as appropriate.

Help us grow our best practice database and knowledge share programming. And share your experiences widely so that women everywhere know how exciting and fulfilling a career in technology can be and what incredible benefits you can derive from working in this industry.







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