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Digital Ninety-Nines Lead Partner's Commitment to Diversity

In 1929, Amelia Earhart invited 117 women -- the total population of women licensed as pilots -- to join her in establishing a professional organization that would promote the advancement of aviation through education, scholarships and mutual support. Ninety-nine trailblazers attended the first meeting of the international organization of women pilots, inspiring the official name, "The Ninety-Nines."

In the spirit of the original Ninety-Nines, an ISV partner is recognizing trailblazing women in the technology industry to inspire another generation.

The Digital Ninety-Nines is the brainchild of Jessica Fardin, vice president of global marketing at Episerver. Aimed at highlighting the work of women who are leading digital transformation in their fields, the Digital Ninety-Nines podcast series features leaders sharing how they are driving change and innovation in their fields.

"The podcast series highlights female leaders in marketing. Marketing is mostly a woman-dominated field, but in technology it's still male-dominated. There are all these amazing women who are taking a digital lead in their organizations and we wanted to promote what they're doing," said Karen Chastain, director of Strategic Alliances and Partners at Episerver. "Our goal was to really carry the theme through in other ways, like our Ascend conference, which is our annual user conference. We expect to continue to expand it and broaden the visibility."

"And more than just the Digital Ninety-Nines, Episerver is doing a lot around diversity, and not only diversity with the gender, but diversity in general." Chastain continued. "We try and make sure that the women who are in leadership roles in our company are participating in the community and giving back to the community, as well."

Chastain has been included on CRN's Women of the Channel list for the past two years and is active in the IAMCP's Women in Technology community. In her role working with the channel, she hears from partners who are trying to become more involved in diversity programs and hire more women in their own companies. She advises partners to get involved. "You don't have to be a woman to follow organizations like IAMCP WIT or be a part of it. Be aware of what's going on, participate in events, encourage the women who are already in your company to look into what they can do in their community," she said.

"In terms of hiring higher-level women, I think that's just being open to looking at women as an equal and looking at their contributions and their qualifications," added Chastain, "A huge step towards being able to hire someone is to be open, to looking at that, and hiring from within, as well."

According to Chastain, Episerver has a history of providing equal opportunity to women. In keeping with that commitment, Episerver recently announced the addition of Sue Bergamo as CIO/CISO to the executive team.

When the Digital Ninety-Nines initiative was launched on International Women's Day in 2016, James Norwood, executive vice president of strategy and CMO at Episerver, wrote a blog post about the inspiration and the company's commitment to balance. In the post, he committed to the International Women's Day #PledgeforParity to help women and girls achieve their ambitions; to challenge conscious and unconscious biases that might stifle that; to value women's and men's contributions equally while creating an inclusive and flexible culture (at work and everywhere); and to call for gender-balanced leadership.

For partners looking to build diversity in their organization, the initiatives at Episerver are a good example of high-value actions that don't require big budgets. The Digital Ninety-Nines is a creative approach to educate and inspire young women looking for role models in an intimidating industry. The publicly stated commitment of leadership to work toward a more balanced workplace in the company blog could swing the decision of a potential recruits. Positive actions to promote diversity send a message to current employees, as well, opening doors and fueling conversations. Small investments with big payoffs.

What steps are you taking to build diversity in your organization? Send me a note and let's share the knowledge. 

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 05, 2017


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