I can’t think of another global technology company that relies more on the leadership of women than Oracle. And I’m not just talking about our wonderful CEO and other senior executives. Throughout the organization, across every country in which we operate, from managers to engineers to product developers, Oracle stands out in this still male-dominated industry by the level at which it empowers women and benefits from their talents. Importantly, that includes the tech side of our business, which is where bias most often impedes the careers of promising women.
In the US, as we celebrate Women’s History Month throughout March, it’s important to acknowledge that our industry still has a long way to go to achieving truly gender-equal hiring, promotion, and compensation. Breaking cycles that hold a traditionally marginalized group back is a difficult process—one that starts with breaking bias.
Breaking bias is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8, when we globally honor the contributions of women in our communities and our workplaces and pledge to do more to achieve women’s equality across the world. Like with most things these days, there’s a hashtag: #BreaktheBias.
Oracle CEO Safra Catz understands the importance of the IWD 2022 campaign theme well. In an internal event we held last month, Safra said to me: “I can tell you, I wouldn't be where I am today if folks did not fight their unconscious bias when I first started.”
One of my colleagues, Katty Coulson, the vice president responsible for IT in our NetSuite division, has been a leader in mentoring talented women, preparing them for leadership roles, and advocating for advancement in their careers.
Katty offers this piece of valuable advice: “Coach, mentor, and sponsor a woman in the workforce to walk with them in their journey, to feel their struggles and celebrate their successes. It is in experiencing someone else’s journey that we break our biases.”
|“I can tell you, I wouldn't be where I am today if folks did not fight their unconscious bias when I first started.”
|— Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle
As a member of the Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) Executive Steering Committee, Katty has been instrumental in developing, engaging, and empowering current and future generations of women to follow in Safra’s footsteps by rising to the top echelon of Oracle leadership.
Programs such as OWL, now going strong for 15 years and initiated in more than 100 communities around the world, are a large part of the reason Oracle continues to lead our industry in this mission. OWL connects women with inspirational mentors and gives them the tools they need to grow into more specialized roles, including executive leadership. Our leadership summits are another example of how we’re expanding awareness of the contributions of women in leadership positions, and the importance of elevating more women to these roles.
Proactively advancing the careers of women at Oracle creates a virtuous cycle, as they are the ones who are most likely to support those that come after them. They truly live up to OWL’s credo of paying it forward.
“The culture and environment of a company is what makes it possible for people of every background—no matter their gender, race, religion, disability, or ethnicity—to find themselves in the position to share their best productive energy at work and in the society,” says Giovanna Sangiorgi, an Oracle senior vice president based in Italy who’s also on the OWL steering committee.
This past October, Giovanna represented Oracle at the G20 Women's Empowerment Conference in Rome, the first ever G20 conference dedicated to empowering women. Business executives from leading companies around the world collected insights and data to identify the barriers holding women back in all walks of life—a project that culminated in a manifesto setting forth 10 guiding principles to promote women's empowerment.
Giovanna signed that manifesto on behalf of Oracle, reaffirming our commitment to foster social and work environments that enable women to achieve their full potential and maximize their career success and fulfillment.
“We must strive for an environment in which potential is nurtured, not limited by a rigid mindset that’s shaped by bias,” she says.
Katty, Giovanna, and other OWL leaders have organized several events to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month that are open to all employees. Around the world, we pledge to continue raising women up in the tech industry, celebrating the achievements of those who blazed trails, cultivating a spirit of positive change to challenge the status quo, and working to #BreaktheBias.
Traci Wade is vice president, global head of diversity and inclusion at Oracle.