Tammi Warfield, Senior VP at Delphix: Why We Need More Diversity In The Tech Industry

I’ve been in the tech industry for over 20 years now; building and leading global teams. I joined Delphix earlier this year, during a really exciting time for the company and, so far, my focus has been on scaling its customer success and technical support teams for the next level of growth.

Before this, I had held the position of VP for Customer Success (Business Applications) at Microsoft and also spent 16 years at BMC, working my way up from account manager to VP Global Customer Success.

Over the course of my career, I’ve seen the tech industry transform in many ways. However, when it comes to diversity and inclusion, in many respects, there is still a long way to go. I guess you could say that, at Delphix, another (unofficial) part of my role is to try and support this movement as much as I can.
 

Why do you think diversity is a cause worth championing?

 
Diversity in all industries is important, not just in terms of gender but also in terms of academic, cultural, employment and ethnic background.

A variety of voices is essential to overcome the complex challenges of today’s business world. We need to be creative and have people on our team who think and work differently. To add to this, customers are diverse and they want to see that reflected in the companies they do business with. Ultimately, more diverse companies are more successful companies. In fact, studies have shown that more diverse companies are 45% more likely to report growth in market share and 70% more likely to capture new markets.
 

 

What is the industry currently getting wrong?

 
I think it probably starts at a grassroots level. As an industry, we traditionally have not been successful in attracting enough women and underrepresented minorities into technology-related degrees, certifications or programmes. These are what provide people with an opportunity to launch their careers in tech. Without them, or an understanding of the technical world, candidates will struggle to enter into technical positions within organisations. We need to invest in children with different backgrounds earlier in order to encourage new passions and broaden their career choices.

Whilst the industry is already making strides when it comes to the gender balance, there is still much to be done. Tech companies need to be proactive when it comes to connecting with the next generation and get involved with initiatives such as Apps for Good – a programme supporting school-age children to learn more about technology through free courses.

A second barrier when it comes to diversity in the tech sector is that there are plenty of ‘non-technical’ roles that could be filled by non-technical candidates but these are often missed due complicated criteria that result in individuals qualifying themselves out. One area that has seen some improvement in recent years is the Customer Success function, particularly for women. In fact, now there is nearly an equal percentage of women (47 percent) and men (48 percent) working in the profession globally. We need to champion these kinds of roles, alongside the ‘more technical ones’ in schools and universities and nurture the next generation of tech specialists.
 

How can companies improve and encourage diversity across an entire business?

 
Firstly, those involved in the recruitment process need to fundamentally understand why diversity matters and why it will help the entire company become more successful. If a recruiter sources and puts a diverse candidate forward for a role, it cannot be just a tick-box exercise. Otherwise, both employer and employee will be disappointed and those who join the business will not last.

But having a policy around hiring diversely is not enough. Businesses also need those individuals to be empowered. Otherwise, they might not feel able to speak up and have a voice. Hiring diversely at all levels is important. So is celebrating our differences, whether it’s sharing personal stories or holding events that the whole company can get behind. Tech companies, in particular, are using employee groups as one of the main ways to support a diverse workforce.

Women’s, LGTBQ and sustainability groups are all typical within a thriving IT company. Again, the idea behind these groups is that people see and are inspired by others who think like they do and are then empowered to be themselves in the workplace and encouraged to challenge the status quo.

Companies can also hold events to show employees that diversity is something they are serious about. For example, at Delphix, we recently held ‘A Day of Inspiration’ – an event for the whole company to commemorate Ada Lovelace Day. We asked everyone in our women’s network and beyond to invite people they felt were inspiring to come and speak about their experiences. It was a day for the internal team to pause and listen to inspiring stories and to understand that people who are not from the same background as you are doing amazing things.