Sharon Mandell, CIO, Juniper Networks

WomenTech Global Conference Keynote from Sharon Mandell

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Slide with the words, womentech GLBOAL CONGERENCE 2022 7-10 JUNE in the upper left corner and SHAREON MANDELL SVP and CIO Juniper Networks in the lower left corner.  A picture of Sharon Mandell in the lower right corner with a Juniper Networks logo.

How to Achieve Better Business Outcomes by Creating an Inclusive Workplace

This is a replay of a keynote given by Sharon Mandell, SVP and CIO of Juniper Networks, during the WomenTech Global Conference from June 7 - 10, 2022.

In this session Sharon addresses the challenges and opportunities she sees for companies to use this unique time to redesign their approach to diverse hiring. As a CIO at a global tech company,  she will share her perspective on the business benefits of an inclusive workforce.

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You’ll learn

  • What COVID-19 did the women’s participation in the workforce

  • The challenges of the Great Resignation

Who is this for?

Business Leaders


Sharon Mandell Headshot
Sharon Mandell
CIO, Juniper Networks


0:01 [Music]

0:05 um i remember when i was first starting

0:08 out

0:08 in technology uh at the early part of my

0:11 career and and finding other female

0:14 peers and mentors at that time was a

0:16 challenge and maybe older than many of

0:18 you

0:18 there were a few female tech leaders i

0:21 encountered as a student i i had the

0:23 pleasure of meeting grace hopper and

0:26 and adele goldberg who

0:29 was very a very prominent technologist

0:31 at the time

0:32 um but in general as i as i finished

0:35 school and kind of went out into the

0:36 workplace i i had to look for women who

0:39 were successful in other less technical

0:42 fields to connect with and look up to

0:44 um so when i was in the media industry

0:46 for example it was the the female

0:49 publishers of newspapers or gm's of our

0:52 tv stations or our marketing executives

0:55 and it wasn't until i moved to

0:56 california in the early 2000s that and i

0:59 just think it's because there was a

1:00 greater percentage of tech out here um i

1:03 saw more i found more women peers and

1:06 positions of a cto and cio

1:10 but even though that was the case a wide

1:13 gender gap persisted in the technology

1:15 teams that i managed and that i saw in

1:17 other companies and the reality is that

1:20 sustaining a pipeline of strong

1:21 technical women remains a persistent

1:24 challenge to this day and i feel it's

1:26 only been exacerbated by the ongoing

1:28 pandemic

1:30 and while neural activities have have

1:32 started to resume in many parts of the

1:34 world

1:35 covid19 has had a significant impact on

1:38 women's participation in the workforce

1:40 um

1:42 setting back years of progress that had

1:44 been had been made on this front and i

1:46 think that the the scenario is

1:48 especially secure acute in technology

1:52 which has chronically suffered this this

1:54 dearth of female and diverse

1:56 underrepresented talent at all ranks you

1:58 know i look at every challenge as an

2:00 opportunity and um

2:03 and i think that uh

2:04 you know if if if we don't change

2:07 anything nothing changes right so

2:09 there's a very there's a famous quote if

2:11 nothing changes nothing changes or

2:13 i i don't know if it was churchill who

2:15 said you know if you keep doing the same

2:17 things and expect something different on

2:19 the other side then you're you're kind

2:20 of fooling yourself i think as we come

2:23 out of this period uh it's up to us to

2:26 to change the narrative this time

2:28 presents an opportunity to re-level the

2:30 playing field for women and

2:32 underrepresented people

2:33 in tech

2:34 who face bias in the workforce so you

2:38 know there was a study done last fall

2:40 and something like 38

2:42 of women in tech said they were thinking

2:44 of leaving their careers and according

2:46 to a study from the kapoor center of

2:49 women of color and computing

2:51 collaborative

2:53 women of color felt that even

2:55 more so than than white women

2:59 for seeing themselves having a long-term

3:01 future there and i as the cio of a

3:04 global tech company i just find this

3:06 unacceptable unacceptable so

3:09 i'm advocating for a new movement that i

3:11 call the great redesign

3:13 instead of the great resignation or the

3:15 great renegotiation um and i think we

3:18 need to like really look closely at our

3:20 hiring practices and our cultural

3:22 practices in our company to build a

3:24 better place let's talk about um

3:27 recruiting the diverse talent problem i

3:30 think too often is placed on the

3:31 shoulders of hr

3:33 um that it's you know up to them to

3:35 build the pipeline and the problem will

3:37 be solved and quite frankly it's it's

3:39 not that simple um i think the c-suite

3:42 senior leadership and all hiring

3:44 managers have to be engaged in this

3:46 process

3:47 male or female to make sure that we get

3:50 out of our comfort zone and and and not

3:54 do what we tend to do in tech which is

3:57 we have a gap and a hole

3:59 and we go to

4:01 um the first candidate that we see has

4:03 the skill set that that we're looking

4:05 for instead of just going to the obvious

4:08 you know very broad

4:09 tech hiring places you know linkedin

4:12 dice

4:13 you know these generic things i think we

4:15 have to start to put ourselves but

4:17 there's also groups

4:18 like women tech network latinas in tech

4:21 tech ladies black girls who code women

4:24 in cybersecurity

4:27 we have to go out and and be where

4:29 people are coming instead of expecting

4:31 the people to show up and land on our

4:33 doorstep then it's not just as i said

4:36 getting that pipeline but you have to

4:37 look at every phase of the hiring

4:39 process

4:40 so

4:41 um you know working with your hr

4:43 business partners take a look at every

4:45 job description first and make sure

4:48 that we're not

4:49 subtly um

4:52 weeding people out by the language that

4:53 we use um or creating job descriptions

4:57 that may

4:58 you know very much focus on skill skills

5:01 skill skill skills rather than talent

5:03 and potential then you know really look

5:06 at your process of who's doing the

5:08 interviewing

5:09 and that's on two fronts right so

5:11 obviously you want a diverse

5:15 group or pool of interviewers so that

5:19 unintended vitas is potentially weeded

5:21 out of the process but you also want to

5:24 look like a place that people come and

5:26 so you want representation also as part

5:29 of your value proposition because when

5:31 people look at you

5:33 hopefully they're going to think well

5:34 that's a place that is diverse and that

5:36 is where i'm going to work to me that's

5:38 that's very important and since changing

5:40 that we've seen

5:42 uh a shift in in the balance of hires um

5:46 at which is now very proportional to the

5:48 pipeline and we're going back to to work

5:50 on the pipeline problem um you have to

5:53 think of inclusivity beyond day one

5:55 right it's not just employee orientation

5:58 but it's all of the ongoing activities

6:00 um that you're going to do to create a

6:03 culture of openness and being responsive

6:06 to when you see things not working

6:08 people being comfortable uh with with

6:11 raising issues and then your leadership

6:14 teams being open to fixing it we have to

6:17 have a sense of belonging and give

6:19 diverse hires the growth potential they

6:21 need and the opportunities

6:24 the same way white men have historically

6:26 received them and it need to do things

6:29 very explicitly to make sure that nobody

6:31 is sitting on the sidelines and that

6:34 underrepresented groups are getting a

6:35 voice during meetings and the decision

6:38 making process we are in technology so

6:41 i always say use the data so

6:44 in the same way as you're looking

6:46 through every step of the pipeline and

6:49 understanding maybe where you have your

6:51 drop-off of of of losing candidates in

6:54 the pipeline

6:56 to help guide your actions it's also the

6:58 same for that ongoing

7:00 nurturing and management of the career

7:02 path once somebody has arrived so you

7:05 know really every time you do a cycle

7:08 look at where the promotions are going

7:09 and if the math isn't working

7:12 you have to ask questions

7:14 and you have to be prepared to talk

7:16 about the people who say when you're

7:19 looking to build a diverse workforce you

7:20 may be discriminating against others but

7:23 you have to take these conscious steps

7:25 to change it also look at your pay data

7:27 often you'll find disparities with women

7:30 and men and um and underrepresented

7:33 groups

7:34 that within the same salary band they're

7:37 not positioned equally my suspicion is

7:39 this happens probably because women in

7:42 underrepresented groups when they come

7:44 to the job the first time are less

7:46 comfortable advocating for themselves

7:49 and of course the way the salary

7:51 negotiation process happens

7:54 you know if people don't ask for what

7:56 they can get or aren't comfortable

7:58 arguing for it then they're going to

8:00 start out at a lower place and that

8:01 comes with that'll continue with them if

8:04 the management leadership teams

8:06 don't look at this data and make

8:07 conscious changes so i literally just

8:10 went through this last week as we did

8:13 our process our annual process

8:15 i held back money from my team so that i

8:18 could make corrections when i saw these

8:21 gaps that we needed to make sure aren't

8:23 persistent

8:25 and lastly we may have to be more

8:26 flexible on

8:28 on where and how people get their work

8:31 done many of us geographically dispersed

8:34 but sometimes uh 50 of your company may

8:37 50 of your team may land in a country

8:40 that perhaps doesn't have the same

8:42 um

8:44 the same opportunities for women the

8:46 same uh

8:47 attitude toward diversity that

8:50 you know it changes country to country

8:51 there may even be legal barriers you

8:53 know one of two things what are the

8:55 actions you're going to take to

8:56 compensate for that and they have to be

8:58 very thoughtful and very explicit

9:01 in terms of enabling those people to

9:03 work and not be penalized for not doing

9:06 it exactly the way somebody who showed

9:08 up in the office always did or perhaps

9:11 you have to start to think about diver

9:13 diversifying those geographic locations

9:15 um in order to overcome that next is

9:19 kind of talking about you know how do we

9:21 create the work environment that we need

9:23 once people are hired and are in our

9:26 companies again it all starts from the

9:28 top so senior leaders i hope you're

9:30 listening you know we're the ones

9:32 responsible for creating the work

9:34 environments that drive this kind of

9:35 change i'm talking about

9:37 um

9:38 some things that we do are you know

9:41 offer multiple forums for candid

9:43 conversations and professional growth

9:46 you need to bolster your your de and i

9:48 approach to support

9:50 employees you know all the time not just

9:53 during these kind of key cycles for

9:55 example juniper networks invest in

9:57 programs that help women and people of

9:59 color build networks of support and

10:01 speak within groups without worrying

10:03 about how others who don't look like or

10:06 operate like them perceive them

10:08 we have special training groups for them

10:11 we have

10:12 leadership and development focus groups

10:14 that we run throughout the company

10:16 so yes so people are are very very

10:18 candid in the environments and and when

10:20 we've been working in roles for for a

10:22 long time i think many of us think we've

10:25 seen all the problems and we understand

10:27 what all the challenges are

10:29 but

10:30 the reality is it evolves and it changes

10:32 over time and so

10:34 while we will hear many of those things

10:37 that we expect from these focus groups

10:39 i'm i'm constantly

10:41 learning about new ones that that we

10:43 have to take on and we have to address

10:44 through some of these programs

10:47 obviously visibility during the pandemic

10:50 has been a problem

10:52 we have to become much more

10:55 explicit about making sure

10:58 that everybody is seeing and uh i joined

11:01 my company during the pandemic so i've

11:04 had to take on many steps to make sure

11:06 that the people at levels that don't

11:09 immediately report to me get to see

11:12 me and and set the tone and set the

11:14 values so it's something that i don't

11:17 think is going to go away because the

11:19 hybrid the world is more likely to be

11:21 hybrid than go back to what we had

11:22 before

11:23 um and so

11:25 you can assume that you can do

11:27 everything by walking around but you you

11:29 must actually set time so one of the

11:32 things i've done is i have these

11:34 sessions i call them schmoozing with

11:36 sharon

11:38 we

11:39 don't allow kind of the the direct

11:42 reports are my senior management it just

11:44 becomes an open forum

11:45 for individuals at different levels to

11:48 be able to talk and get to know me and

11:50 ask their questions and tell me what's

11:52 going on without any fear of you know

11:55 who's gonna who's gonna hear about it um

11:58 there's many other techniques people

11:59 have done um to try to create that

12:02 environment where people feel more

12:04 comfortable and included so that you're

12:06 you're not leaving people sitting on the

12:07 sidelines

12:09 women in the tech industry haven't

12:11 always had uh the same management

12:14 support and sponsorship and mentorship

12:16 support that men have

12:18 so we need to make sure that as those

12:21 things are happening they're getting

12:22 distributed evenly and fairly and we

12:25 have to we have to go out and maybe

12:28 advocate to find sponsors and mentors

12:30 for people um but that maybe it doesn't

12:33 even happen inside your organization but

12:35 some other part of the organization that

12:37 can give them

12:38 those opportunities and help them see

12:40 where they need to grow and develop

12:44 the

12:46 lack of management support lack of

12:48 opportunity and work-life balance are

12:52 main reasons for departures for women in

12:54 stem careers and again we see them leave

12:57 within the first few years um because i

13:00 think without that support

13:02 you know they've heard people have heard

13:04 about you know the great that we get

13:06 paid well in our field um that we solve

13:08 challenging problems but

13:11 if the leadership teams and the

13:12 management aren't really making sure

13:14 that that opportunity

13:16 is evenly distributed then

13:19 um and fairly distributed then what

13:21 happens is it only feels that way for

13:23 some people and and they need to move on

13:26 so again it requires the onus is on us

13:29 as leaders and not at the people at the

13:32 lower levels to always be raising their

13:34 hands

13:35 the other thing is you know for those

13:37 reasons

13:40 i really try to get out and spend time

13:45 in both stem and i say steam

13:47 organizations

13:49 i don't think that all of the tech

13:52 leaders are going to come out of college

13:54 with computer science degrees i think

13:56 that again we need to be hiring

13:59 for capability we're all going to

14:02 re-skill i have re-skilled over and over

14:05 and over again over the course of my

14:06 career

14:08 that's going to happen for anyone who's

14:10 in technology and so we can't assume

14:12 that if you didn't graduate with a

14:14 computer science degree you don't have

14:15 any future here in tech

14:17 um and so we need to go out to those

14:20 places and and show

14:22 uh women what's possible

14:24 and

14:25 tell them about the great work that's

14:27 here

14:28 so you know i do that through

14:31 the organizations the education and the

14:33 arts boards and i actually now teach uh

14:36 as part of my opportunity to because

14:39 when i go into a classroom it's often

14:40 more than

14:41 um more than half women um and i want

14:45 them to see somebody who's who's getting

14:47 great work and having a great career um

14:50 and so i can't scale that on my own but

14:52 if we are all out engaging with that uh

14:56 we can really show and change that this

14:58 is an

14:59 inclusive place um juniper specifically

15:02 has some other things to encourage women

15:04 for careers and stamps so

15:06 uh we

15:08 we do this through mentorship internship

15:11 and speaking engagements

15:13 like this one here to try to help people

15:15 understand what's possible

15:17 we also um

15:19 financially support organizations so

15:21 we're lucky we have a philanthropic arm

15:24 and we will invest in that

15:27 but many companies may not have that but

15:29 they may have donor matching problem

15:31 donor matching programs so that

15:34 employees can support organizations

15:37 again like jackie's that that are are

15:39 trying to make it possible for for women

15:42 to feel as comfortable and as empowered

15:45 as they grow up uh as technologists

15:49 we work through colleges

15:51 and we have our education services offer

15:55 certifications so if your company has a

15:57 product and

15:59 you can go help deliver that training

16:01 and get other women

16:03 comfortable with technology it's another

16:05 way to kind of bring more people into

16:07 the field and then as i said once they

16:10 have the positions

16:12 all of the things we discussed earlier

16:14 sponsorship mentorship um

16:16 managing that equal pay

16:18 um and and doing that pay equity

16:21 analysis making sure the opportunities

16:23 exist for development and advancement

16:25 are there

16:26 and then the other thing we really have

16:29 to do

16:29 again particularly in this this

16:32 you know this time of the pandemic is

16:34 women still shoulder

16:36 much of the

16:38 you know

16:38 workload around children when they're

16:40 home and during the pandemic i think

16:43 that probably became untenable from for

16:45 many many people

16:47 um

16:48 you know having to try to do the job and

16:50 and be around at all the exact same

16:53 hours while also trying to raise their

16:55 kids uh through school my daughter was

16:57 long graduated by it by the time it

17:00 happened but um

17:01 i think it was very very tough on them

17:03 so you know i i really listen for

17:06 language around the company when i hear

17:08 something like

17:09 oh you know that person was doing great

17:11 and in the past year or so i've seen

17:13 this other person surpass them and i and

17:15 i ask okay well does that person have

17:17 kids you know you really

17:19 you know when you hear something you

17:21 know how people say if you see something

17:23 say something uh you know in a situation

17:26 at you know an airport or something like

17:28 that i think we have to do that

17:30 ourselves at work when we hear things we

17:32 really have to hold our our peers and

17:35 others around us

17:37 accountable and sorry about the

17:38 shuffling um so that that they are um

17:42 that they're aware that again some

17:45 things that they may be doing or saying

17:47 unintentionally

17:48 are are held holding our colleagues who

17:51 are you know maybe working double time

17:53 just to stay in the field

17:55 um holding them behind and then to the

17:58 degree women leave the workforce

18:00 and in tech it's really it's really

18:02 really challenging to come back and the

18:05 longer they stay away um the harder it

18:07 is to re-enter so again supporting

18:09 organizations and working with

18:11 organizations that kind of help

18:14 get those people leveled up and and back

18:17 into the workforce and creating

18:19 opportunities for them

18:21 um extremely extremely important and you

18:24 know we all do this right because it's

18:26 the right thing to do we all believe

18:28 it's our right and um to

18:32 to have the same opportunities um that

18:35 other classes of of of people have but

18:38 it's also the thing that makes good

18:40 business sense so

18:43 you know the need for diversity is clear

18:46 more diversity equals more innovation

18:48 and more innovation leads to more market

18:50 growth

18:52 the world economic forum in 2020

18:55 highlighted that companies that lead in

18:57 the dei space

19:00 they better perform on any number of

19:02 metrics that includes profitability

19:05 innovation

19:06 decision making

19:08 and um employee engagement and keeping

19:11 our workforce uh that we've invested so

19:14 much in versus

19:16 um having the churn and having to spend

19:19 the money on recruiting and

19:22 uh

19:23 bringing somebody up to speed in the new

19:25 organization making them part of the

19:26 culture um obviously that will lead to

19:29 better economic results if we can keep

19:31 the great people we have rather than

19:33 having them

19:34 churn out because they don't feel

19:36 comfortable from a profitability

19:38 standpoint it's 26 to 25 to 36 percent

19:42 more profitable

19:44 um 20

19:46 um higher innovation and commence

19:48 commensurate innovation revenues uh that

19:52 go along with this and up to a 30

19:54 percent greater ability to to recognize

19:58 um

19:59 and and uh mitigate business risk uh

20:03 come with this these programs mckinsey

20:06 itself did a a a another report

20:11 showing many of the same things that

20:13 inclusive companies way outperformed

20:15 those who aren't and they broke the

20:17 companies into cohorts those who had 30

20:20 percent or more

20:22 executive women 10 to 30 percent

20:28 women executives and then less than 10

20:31 percent

20:32 and not only did they show that there

20:35 was a an increase in in profitability

20:39 but that um the gap grew wider and wider

20:43 over time between these different

20:44 cohorts and yet despite that data

20:49 um

20:50 a third of the companies that were part

20:51 of that survey had no women executives

20:54 yet at the leadership level so you know

20:57 the the data is clear and it and it

21:00 really shows that by including us we we

21:03 drive better business outcomes um

21:06 another study showed similar results

21:09 based on data with women and

21:12 underrepresented minorities uh on board

21:15 of directors

21:16 um and so the greater proportionality so

21:19 it's not just adding it's not good

21:22 enough to just add women to boards or

21:24 add underrepresented minorities to the

21:26 boards you have to

21:27 increase the proportionality of the

21:29 board otherwise you're just kind of

21:32 sliding things over a bit

21:34 but you get return on assets that are 8

21:37 to 13 percent basis points higher for

21:40 companies that have that diversity so

21:43 um it isn't just the right thing to do

21:45 but it's the um

21:48 it it makes good business sense and and

21:50 that's why we really have to take on

21:52 this great redesign

21:54 so

21:55 um

21:56 in conclusion uh you know the while

22:00 we're we're trying to you know be fair

22:03 right

22:04 um you know moral

22:06 use our full human capital um

22:10 it also drives the results our companies

22:12 want to have

22:14 um it's not something that's easy or

22:16 trivial it's going to take

22:18 real incremental

22:20 conscious intentional hard work

22:23 but the results are worth it

22:25 and it's going to be a mix of very

22:27 tactical and strategic work that we have

22:29 to do

22:31 but all of the change and uncertainty

22:33 going on now

22:35 this is the time where real leaders

22:37 distinguish themselves it's not when

22:39 everything's going great and rising

22:41 tides are raising all boats but it's in

22:43 these times of challenge and uncertainty

22:45 and change

22:47 from external factors that allow us to

22:50 go drive change and really capitalize on

22:52 that and so my you know we need to be

22:56 conscious about that and then my advice

22:58 to each one of you as individuals is to

23:01 you know work hard play hard

23:04 do what you love

23:05 uh what you're passionate about and then

23:08 find those who recognize that in you

23:11 so you can have that impact and and make

23:13 it exponential

23:14 [Music]

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