Powerhouse women leading in adtech: Diversity makes us stronger

Audrey Michelin, director, account management ANZ at Open X discusses how companies can make real and long-lasting progress towards creating a diverse workforce.

The tech industry is booming, with many talking about talent gaps; and despite the war for talent, the tech industry somehow lacks diversity.

Women, minorities, and LGBT+ people continue to be underrepresented. For instance, when it comes to women, out of the largest 1,000 companies, fewer than one out of five are Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs). Conversely, it’s very easy to identify leading men in technology. To change this, young women must be able to identify with role models in the field. The same goes for other underrepresented groups.

Australia is improving in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) scores, with the second-largest increase in DEI progress since 2019, up by 7% to 55%.2 Diversity has been shown to provide businesses and industries commercial benefits, and it is time to set a focus on equal opportunities for leadership positions starting with women. It is time for women in tech to break the industry’s glass ceiling and for companies to expand their efforts to ensure greater workforce and leadership diversity.

To make real and long-lasting progress toward diversity, companies need to focus on two big goals: keeping the women leaders they already have and getting more women and other underrepresented talent into leadership positions.

Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in leadership

Creating an inclusive culture based on a holistic DEI strategy is important. After all, a diverse workplace is a thriving workplace. Great Place to Work discovered that organisations prioritising diversity, equity, and inclusion generate increased revenue, experience a surge of innovation and improved retention.

The gender workplace statistics by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, an Australian Government statutory agency, has revealed that women hold only 17.6% of chair positions and 31.2% of directorships, which represents 19.4% of CEOs and 34.5% of key management personnel. Yet, 22.3% of boards and governing bodies have no female directors. By contrast, only 0.6% had no male directors. Other industry reports mention that minorities generally face even steeper barriers to leadership. This shows that diversity begins with positions of authority.

Leaders at all levels of the organisation must be committed to implementing policies that promote equality at all levels of leadership. We must actively identify and eliminate the hurdles that prevent talented, ambitious women and others from advancing to leadership positions.

According to Catalyst’s research, Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on the board perform better than other companies, with 42% more return on sales, 53% higher return on equity, and 66% better return on invested capital.5 Similar results were found in McKinsey’s report revealing that when women are recognised at the top, company share performance and profits can increase by up to 50%.6

Celebrate and Acknowledge Women in the Workplace

According to a PWC Report, there is a positive correlation between women whose senior management provides career opportunities and women who are confident in their ability to lead and advance to the highest levels of their employer. Women require networks of peers and leaders who will develop, promote, acknowledge, advocate and celebrate for them.

The PWC Report also reveals that only 54% of women see role models similar to them in senior management, which is unsurprising given that women are frequently under-represented in leadership positions.7 Therefore, more must be done to increase mentorship and sponsorship for women. The lack of support, celebration, and acknowledgement will hinder progress. The combination of personal and workplace support will help to facilitate the promotion of women’s advancement.

Succession planning is crucial to acknowledge and promoting women and others to leadership roles. By establishing promotion programmes with mentorship, support systems, executive coaching, and educational resources, high-achieving women and others can advance to leadership positions, build their networks, and concentrate on their career path.

OpenX has a Women In Tech employee resource group, which was created to provide opportunities and support for women and help bring important topics to light. In addition, the Women In Tech Spotlight Nominee Initiative was established to build a culture of recognition and appreciation toward women across the organisation for their achievements. The monthly spotlight also aims to recognise nominees and increase familiarity and camaraderie between women working in all teams and departments at OpenX.

Unlocking Women’s Potential is Key to Diversity

Leaders must take action to attract women to technology at an early age and support them on their path to leadership. With a support ecosystem through promotion programmes, mentorship, role models, educational resources, and affiliation networks, women have the opportunities to succeed in their careers. It is a winning strategy for companies at large. After all, the track record of companies led by women positively affects the company’s overall performance and efficiency, resulting in higher profits and better shareholder returns.

Raising the number of women and minorities in leadership creates greater workplace diversity, ensuring equal opportunities for all.

Audrey Michelin is the director, account management ANZ at OpenX. 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.