Why diversity matters in the technology industry

Sabine Hansen Peck

Senior VP, Human Resources, Communications & Branding, Amadeus IT Group

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The technology industry has never been in the vanguard of establishing gender equality in the workplace. With some notable, but limited, exceptions this industry has been dominated by men, as much, if not more than any other in the white collar world.

Attendees at the Amadeus Women's Network event
Attendees at the Amadeus Women's Network event

I reflected on this again, and in particular on our own contribution, as I left the annual Amadeus Women’s Network conference in Nice earlier this month following a day of lively discussion on a broad range of topics.

I believe Amadeus can be proud of its overall progress in developing a richly diverse company with a truly multi-cultural, polyglot community that reflects the global nature of our business. On gender specifically, we compare favorably to peers in the technology sector. Of the nine members of our executive management team, three are women. Overall the company’s workforce is 37% percent female.  But there is still much to do.

Amadeus’ purpose is to shape the future of travel through the deployment of our technology, services and expertise. I truly believe that young girls and women can make a huge contribution in this technology-enabled world, not just as consumers but also as software developers, engineers and innovators. Sooner rather than later I hope to see them become VPs of Technology, CTOs and ultimately CEOs and Chairwomen – here at Amadeus and elsewhere.

Bringing their own unique perspectives to the table, more women in senior positions can only make what we do better, more meaningful, more sustainable and probably more enjoyable. Today’s challenges need a response different from the solutions we applied yesterday. We need a much more diverse perspective in order to address the questions of a far more  diverse, and far more complex world. I am regularly asked why diversity is such an integral part of our people and talent agenda. It is partly, of course, because promoting equality and diversity is the right thing to do from a moral point of view. In addition, however, I truly believe that it matters today more than ever. It is not a corporate 'tick the box' exercise, but a reflection of the world we live in. Providing an environment where diversity in all its forms can prosper will also make Amadeus successful going forward.

I was delighted to be asked by Brigitte Bourla, the Amadeus Womens’ Network founder, to be the executive sponsor of the network, whose aim is to enhance the professional development and career evolution of women within Amadeus, and to improve work-life balance. One of the highlights of this role is that I host the annual conference, which, this year, in addition to  120 participants from Amadeus around the world (Bangalore, Dubai, Miami, Erding, Antwerp), also invited external participants from six companies.

The keynote was delivered by Dr Sonja A. Buholzer, the management coach, consultant and best-selling author, who urged the attendees to embrace their difference and femininity and to celebrate themselves as women, in the midst of male rules and corporate cultures.

“If women dare sell their difference as an added value and as a tool to raise their self-confidence and to use their different way-to-be to generate something new, then the future will become more female. Not only quantitatively but also qualitatively”.

Dr. Buholzer described ethical behaviour, respect for our environment and the communities we live in, as well as a female intuition - a social intelligence - as an important female contribution to provide different perspectives which will result in making the business world more sustainable and more worthwhile.

Dr Sonja A. Buholzer speaking to attendees at our meeting in Nice
Dr Sonja A. Buholzer speaking to attendees at our meeting in Nice

I have no doubt she is right. Diversity - in its wider sense -  is something which we practice in Amadeus on a daily basis. We have more than 195 nationalities working in the company, speaking almost 60 languages and representing even more cultural traditions.  This cultural, ethnic, linguistic and gender diversity provides a richness in thought, an abundance of ideas, a creativeness in debate and differences of outlook that help us to generate new directions in business development.

All of this has been a great contributor to what made this company successful in the last 26 years, and I am confident that further diversity in our gender composition will help to drive more success.

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Diversity, Events