A little less than 20% of chief information officers in the United States are women. That roughly mirrors the percentage of women enrolled in engineering programs at universities in the U.S. Although progress has been made in the roughly 40 years since the inception of the CIO role, more needs to be done to create pathways for women to grow careers in technology.
One of the organizations that has done a remarkable job in mentoring women and working behind the scenes to help women land CIO, chief technology officer, and chief digital officer posts is T200. The group was founded by roughly ten women in 2017, and in less than four years, has grown to roughly 160 members. As founding member, Suja Chandrasekaran, currently the Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Information and Digital Officer of CommonSpirit, noted, “We go past peripheral connections. Since our inception, we connect with depth, diversity and strength.”
Chandrasekaran spoke at a T200 event today to mark International Women’s Day and to announce a new program called the Lift Platform which sets bold goals to foster new opportunities for the next generation of women leaders in the technology and digital realm.
The Lift Platform is designed for women in technology and digital roles who report directly to CXOs. They will be vetted for fit with T200’s principles, and they will represent diversity of industry as well as race, creed, sexual orientation, geography, and more.
The Lift Platform drives networking, mentorship and sponsorship. Mamatha Chamarthi, the CIO of Stellantis, said, “We want to elevate the next generation [of women leaders]. We will identify leaders who have a willingness to contribute and give back; a willingness to volunteer to uplift other women.”
Pizza Hut CIO Helen Vaid went further in saying, “Half of the world is women. Therefore, half of the resumes we see should be from women.”
The group listed the following goals in the materials shared in the kick-off event this morning:
- Help mentees identify and achieve career development and personal growth goals in digital and technology
- Create a bench of women digital and technology leaders who have potential, knowledge and skills to be the next gen C-level leaders
- Foster high-level of engagement to build the mentees’ career vision
- Equip mentees with resources necessary to perform their best in current and future roles and broker connection with a broader network
- Build a shared responsibility to T200 community for a culture of coaching and development
- Create visibility of high potential women in leadership in digital and technology
12 initial members of the Lift Mentorship program have been identified, though their names were not shared at the kick-off event. 16 mentors have been assigned, as well. They include the CIOs, CDOs and/or CTOs of American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Align Technology, Citrix, Zoetis and Clark Hill Law, along with Chandrasekaran, Chamarthi and Vaid, among others.
T200 leaders hope to drive outcomes to include supporting women to thrive in their existing roles, while driving explicit growth and professional learning goals for the mentees, creating visibility for the next generation of leaders for additional opportunities and to progressively improve outcomes each year.
T200 leaders have set the objective to have five mentees become CIOs in 2021. The longer-term objective is to be a driving force for women in technology to grow to parity globally across all industries. Ambitious women who strive to follow in the footsteps of the 160 extraordinary women who currently make up the T200 should take note that there is a clearer path for them to follow!
This article appears in Forbes.com and is written by Peter High who is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm.