Tech bosses should "put their foot down" to ensure more women are employed in the IT industry, Splunk chief executive Godfrey Sullivan has asserted.
During a .conf2015 Women in Technlogy panel in Las Vegas last week, Sullivan admitted having difficulties staffing a sufficient number of women at Splunk, despite his teams at previous employers Apple and Hyperion Solutions being equally male and female.
"Here, I've really struggled in this infrastructure world," he said.
The CEO spoke about his recent experience looking for someone to replace his female human resources lead, saying he insisted on only seeing female resumes for the position.
"This is just one of the places where you have to reverse discriminate," he told attendees. "I said, ‘Get all the men's resumes out. I don't even want to see a man's resume for this job. We're not going from a woman running HR to a man running HR at Splunk. It's just not going to happen because we just lost half of our women on the exec team'."
In addition, when Sullivan took over Splunk, he inherited an all-male board, he said, adding that this was another time he refused male resumes. Instead, Sullivan said he looked for females with a CIO background.
According to the CEO, male executives in technology need to be more "proactive" about finding female talent.
"Put your foot down from time to time because the talent's there," Sullivan explained. "It may take a little bit longer. You may have to be a little more patient and look a little harder, but what you get out of blended teams is so much more powerful. Diversity of thought, experience and background matters a lot."
He added that teams comprised of only one gender - or one race, or other single-type groupings - end up being "lopsided".
Panel member and SVP of security markets at Splunk, Haiyan Song, agreed that women are essential to team dynamic. Plus, as women represent half of the world's population, and sometimes even more depending on the region, they are an important audience for technology companies to target, Song said
"If you apply the consumerization of IT to how we think about [the need to] be connected with our customers...to understand what the needs are, what's happening in work and life, its balance - or a mix of all of those - [women are] going to be super important in making business decisions," she said.
Ultimately, women will have no problem breaking through the glass ceiling, according to Sullivan. He said within 20 or 30 years, women will play an equally as large role as men in business competition and innovation in areas with women-friendly social norms like the U.S. and Europe.
"There's nothing slowing you down," Sullivan told female attendees. "In fact, all of us guys are just hanging on by a thread. We're hanging on to that glass ceiling for the last couple days of our life because you guys are just blowing through it. And we'll end up working for you, so the sooner we admit that and get comfortable with, it the better."
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