Women In Transformation Q&A with Tony Sweeney

Since our first Women In Transformation event back in March, we’ve been inundated with positive feedback and queries about our next rendition. So we’re pleased to finally be able to release some information around our speaker for our second Women In Transformation event on the 2nd of July.

Among other things (which you can read about here), one of the key takeaways from our last Women In Transformation session led by COO, Jo Varley, was that male colleagues are often the best allies when it comes to gender diversity in the workplace as it takes a collective to drive real change.

So this time we’ll be joined by experienced CIO, Tony Sweeney, who has spent the last 22 years implementing change across a breadth of industries including telecoms, dot com and finance. We’re excited to have Tony talk to us about why gender diversity isn’t just a moral issue, but also has a marked effect on the performance of transformation projects across the board.

We sat down with Tony to find out more about his experience of gender diversity in the transformation space and what he thinks could be done to help.

Hi Tony, we’re excited to have you speak at our second Women In Transformation event. What’s inspired your decision to speak at the event?

Having worked in transformation for so long, many of the colleagues within the space I look up to and admire the most are in fact women. I believe that some of the best transformational leaders are women.

I also do feel very strongly about anybody being made to feel excluded at work based on their gender it’s not only completely immoral but also does the business in question a real disservice by robbing themselves of the skills women can and do bring to the table.

Could you tell us a little bit more about what you’re going to be speaking to us about at the event?

I’m going to be discussing why gender diversity in the workplace is not only a moral issue, but can have a big impact on the success rate of transformation projects. The fact is, transformation is more likely to fail without the breadth of experience women bring.

So, what would you say are the innate skills that female transformation professionals possess versus their male counterparts?

My experience of the transformation space so far is that men, tend to have more of an implementation skillset and a more transactional mindset. Whereas women, of course they may possess an implementation skillset as well, are naturally good negotiators so are better at stakeholder management and the like.

The reason being, women have a certain life experience that men don’t have – which leads them to develop a different skill set.  

My argument is that you don’t make stuff happen with Gantt charts, people need persuading to be fully on board with your plans and it takes a certain type of person to be able to do that effectively. This goes broader than the people aspect of change, it’s more about having those fundamental human skills from the start. 

What is the impact that gender disparity in the workplace can have on transformation projects?

I’ve seen the impact of not having women on board during transformation projects, and it can really stunt the rate of success and true embedding of change.

None of this is to say that men have no place in the transformation space, what I am saying though, is that we need more of a balance between the two to be able to make the most of our unique abilities. If you get the balance wrong, things start to go wrong and that’s where we are currently I’m afraid. 

What steps do you think employers can take to try and tackle this?

I think it comes down to what our perception of change really is. You see, it’s not about digital systems, risk management, governance or any of that transactional jargon. It’s about collaboration, compromise and people skills. After all, people are at the heart of all business change.

Something else that could make a big difference is the way we unconsciously gender our job descriptions.  Both in terms of language and in terms of prioritising the wrong skills.  This puts off the right candidates from the start.

Is change on the horizon?

Change is happening, I don’t think it’s happening particularly fast, nor is there any real barrier to things changing. As with any transformation, It’s just a gradual process that we need to keep pushing through to achieve the end result.

We’re really looking forward to hearing more from Tony on the impact of gender bias in the transformation space on the 2nd of July for our second iteration of the Women In Transformation event series. We’ll be posting updates from the event in the coming weeks, so keep an eye on our LinkedInTwitter and Instagram to hear more about Women In Transformation.

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Pujan Thakrar

24th June

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