Inspiring the next generation of female tech leaders, and why the CFO must now spearhead digital transformation

By Carol Lee, Chief Financial Officer, LogicMonitor.

  • 4 months ago Posted in

Having worked in the technology industry for over two decades, across a variety of global businesses, I’ve witnessed a tremendous amount of progress. From the initial growth of cloud computing to now having entire virtual worlds at our fingertips, technology has evolved at an incredible rate over the course of my career.

This is what I love about the industry – its fast-paced nature means that no two years are the same. I am constantly learning in my role, as new developments force you to consistently expand your knowledge and capabilities. We are working at the cutting edge of societal change, and I feel honoured to be able to work in and around technology that has a tangible, meaningful impact on the world.

The same can be said for diversity - there have been great changes in the industry from when I started, and I’m happy to have been able to champion this progress throughout my career. However, as a truly pioneering sector, the tech industry should not rest on its laurels. There is plenty of work to be done to empower the next generation of female tech professionals to rise up and achieve greatness.

Tomorrow’s female leaders

Despite the progress, gender discrimination is still a major issue in the workplace. From careless comments to unconscious biases in decision making processes, there have been a number of occasions where I was made to feel frustrated that I did not receive the same treatment or opportunities as my male colleagues. Incidences like these are happening daily to women across the world, damaging their confidence and inhibiting their ability to advance their careers. A 2022 study by Equileap found that the global average for large companies with a female CFO was only 13%, with this figure dropping to just 5% for the CEO position. With women representing 37% of the total workforce, these figures clearly demonstrate an institutional problem with upwards mobility for female professionals.

So, what are tech companies doing to improve the situation? Spreading awareness is the first step, and I am pleased that the majority of businesses are now reporting on DE&I statistics. Transparency with regard to gender inequity in business enables us to educate ourselves on the issues, and it is only when this is established that we can ultimately address them. At LogicMonitor, we are proud to have special communities for women and other marginalised groups within the company, to foster a supportive and inclusive working environment where everyone’s opinion is heard. We also run an incredible scholarship program in the US for outstanding women in STEM, which aims to increase the percentage of women working in the science and engineering workforce by sponsoring deserving college students.

A long road ahead

Despite the progress we’ve made, there’s plenty more that the industry can be doing to level the playing field. Establishing clear communication channels is central to accelerating change, therefore tech businesses should be proactively creating forums and spaces for women to voice their ideas, allowing them the opportunity to be heard.

As well as amplifying their voices, we must focus on providing female talent with accessibility to strategic cross-functional initiatives and mentorship programmes. Receiving candid, helpful feedback from someone outside of your direct team, organisation or industry is incredibly important for any ambitious businessperson, so by giving women access to coaching throughout their careers we can give them the tools needed to make the jump into more senior roles.

Policies such as these will lay the foundations for women to hone not only their technical expertise, but also their business acumen and ability to influence and coach others. Ultimately, a holistic approach to nurturing female talent will create well-rounded individuals with the potential to become the tech industry’s next CEOs, CIOs or CFOs.

How can the CFO be the catalyst for digital transformation?

From my perspective, digital transformation is inevitable for any enduring company. It’s through this innovation that we improve efficiencies in business infrastructure, workflow and overall productivity, to the benefit of the organisation’s bottom line. We should all view a business’ tech stack as comparable to the foundations for a building’s architecture – without robust support from its IT systems, operations will crumble and revenue will suffer. For CFOs then, investment into technology infrastructure to support the business should be a primary concern. The modern CFO is no longer plainly a budget holder – they are responsible for ensuring the growth of the company, so they should play a central part in decision making around its tech stack.

This is where the CFO can truly drive transformation, and communication is key. For a digital strategy to be successful the entire C-suite must be in alignment, which requires open conversation on what ‘digital’ means to each particular leader. A clear definition should then be agreed upon, before it can be articulated in a way that the entire organisation can rally around. Then, the CFO has the privilege of a 360-degree view of the business meaning that they have a fantastic opportunity to encourage the flow of information between teams, leading to informed, data-driven decisions being made across all levels. With their unique understanding of digital spend, the CFO can also be the central figure in helping colleagues understand the digital economy, before putting the pieces in place for effective tech performance measurement.

With an increasingly difficult set of challenges facing tech companies in 2023, driving an effective digital strategy must be top of the agenda for any CFO. Economic volatility, supply chain disruption and talent shortages have put the industry under significant pressure since the pandemic, and it is the businesses that invest in more efficient and effective technology that will thrive, where others fall. Today’s CFO must be prepared to plan, fund and steer the business in the right direction, while driving financial

performance in the face of these challenges, all while earning trust from stakeholders and ensuring security and compliance risks are minimised. This of course is no easy task, but one that must be overcome to ensure their business flourishes in these testing times.

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