CEO leading a financial meeting using the Surface Hub. Business attire.This year marks the 45th annual International Women’s Day since its creation by the United Nations in 1975. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.

That’s 45 years of progress, change, diversity of thought and inclusion to celebrate, from the start!

Having worked in a number of technology organisations for over 15 years, I’ve personally experienced an industry sector that is relatively progressive in terms of driving equality, diversity of thought and inclusive behaviours in the approach to talent acquisition and retention. But it’s not perfect and there is still a long way to go.

According to a 2019 women in technology study, the current stats aren’t particularly optimistic. One in six technology specialists in the UK are listed as women. Only one in ten of those filling IT leadership roles.

The numbers don’t paint an overly optimistic picture on their own. However, there are a number of initiatives and movements around the world that continue to gain momentum. These are absolutely positive steps forward for the industry as a whole. These range from championing women in tech to driving grass-roots initiatives to attract female talent into STEM positions.

I’m hopeful that this growing progress will continue to evolve to readdress the balance in the future. Both in the near-term and for future generations when they enter the world of work.

Colleagues discuss project together at desk in Singapore office.I was excited and humbled to see the latest non-profit company founded by Melinda Gates announcing the launch of a $50 million project to influence tech hubs in the US to become more inclusive places for women. The initiative, named GET Cities, has pledged to build more inclusive workplaces that demonstrate the value of gender equality in the tech sector. Hopefully this type of activity in the US helps further initiatives in all corners of the world so that everyone has equal opportunity to succeed.

Reflecting on this personally, it’s got me thinking about the magic of celebrating women in the workplace. I’d like to celebrate all diversity and equality across all genders, creed, race, and affiliations. I’ve been lucky to build and lead a number of diverse teams during my working life.

I’ve witnessed both amazing women and men balance demanding roles with the pressures and challenges of their personal and family lives. I believe that every individual has a unique skillset with a particular set of characteristics and experiences. By getting the right balance of these areas, it helps to make good teams great.

We need organisations around the world to continue to pledge to making equal and diverse workplaces. Empowering people and leveraging technology, where possible, to drive flexible, inclusive, accessible environments. These environments encourage employees to learning new skills and do their best work.

Microsoft has a simple mission: To empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. So, kudos to the amazing women who I work with throughout my career, but also the men too.

I’m hoping to do my part to empower every person I work with every day to strive for progressive, inclusive, and equal workplaces now and for our future generations. Here’s hoping the next 45 years helps to further bridge the gap!

About the author

Photo of a smiling woman, Joanne GilhooeyJoanne works as the Marketing Director in the UK where she builds and leads a team of commercial marketeers. Joining Microsoft in September 2018, she focusses on building conversations within the UK market on hybrid-cloud platforms such as Azure, AI, and cybersecurity amongst others.