Building Bridges in Tech

I’ve worked in technology companies for a good part of my career, and I’m often asked about my experience as a woman in tech. The truth is, I can’t isolate my experience as a woman or in the technology industry. It’s all integrated. While I understand the systemic issues that underpin the lack of diversity in tech companies, the issues are real and require focused attention in order to build more inclusive and dynamic companies where everyone can thrive. What has worked for me and been a key driver to my success, is the ability to work productively with men as peers and colleagues, who possess the understanding to stop, listen and create space for other points of view. We need to move away from a binary perspective on women, or for that matter, men and how they relate to each other. We can change the ratio by moving toward a model that better equips women and men to come together as equal partners in ideation, conflict, problem-solving and socialization. In all instances, we need to change the conversation and the quality of communication. I have been fortunate to have multiple men be champions and advocates for me in my career. What did we do differently and what made our work relationship work? At Return Path Inc., my boss Matt Blumberg worked hard on his commitment to include dissenting points of view and to deliberately seek out different perspectives. He held every member of the executive team accountable for leading across the entire business. No one worked in a functional silo, creating space for leaders such as myself to crossover from functional business leadership to more broad-based business leadership. It also built a bridge from a traditionally female function, People & Culture, to a traditionally male function, Operations. It also opened up dialogue across disciplines. I was expected to weigh in on engineering and product issues just as much as marketing, sales, or people issues. This created a forum for all of the executives to work together in all aspects of the business and as a team, we built much deeper relationships as a cohesive team. To affect change, we all need to have the courage to lead change upstream and downstream in our businesses. This means recruiting a balanced board of directors, creating space for women to join your Board and requiring a balanced slate of candidates from your executive search firm, even when you’re told that ‘fewer than 1% of the pipeline is typically female. Be willing to modify roles to crack the door open for non-traditional candidates and gain access to a broader slate that might create positive opportunities for areas of your business you had never considered. When leaders intentionally build bridges into and across the organization, they create space for people to stretch, learn, and grow into roles that otherwise might not be available to them. Over time, these bridges will create connections, access, and opportunity that will lead to stronger organizations and more balanced leadership teams. About Angela Baldonero  Angela Baldonero is Principal of Baseline Consulting, a firm advising small and mid-sized high growth organizations on how to scale without sacrificing culture. Her clients include some of the fastest growing, up and coming technology companies in Vancouver, BC, San Francisco and New York. Previously, Angela has held multiple senior executive roles with rapidly growing organizations from start-ups to billion dollar global businesses. Interested in learning more about equal opportunities in tech? Check out our Women in Tech page.