Shattering the glass ceiling at HR Tech World Amsterdam – day one roundup

Jess Fuhl
Published on 25th October 2017
2 min read

There aren’t enough women in tech. Hardly breaking news but it’s a fact – and here are some others:

  • Just 5% of tech start-ups are owned by women
  • Only 11% of executive positions in Silicon Valley companies are held by women
  • Women receive lower salary offers than men for the same job at the same company 63% of the time

So, it was particularly invigorating to hear from so many passionate female leaders in technology on the first day of HR Tech World Amsterdam yesterday. That was one of the most striking takeaways from day one at the event. The stellar line up of female speakers that blew away delegates in Amsterdam.

Three sessions in particular stood out during the first day of the conference.

Firstly, a panel session on female founders breaking tech’s glass ceiling. An audience in front of the main stage heard from three founders of tech companies for and about women – from AI water bottles and fitness tracking jewelry, to designing technology that supports employees’ re-location around the world.

Urska Srsen (Co-founder and Chief People Officer at Bellabeat), Brynne Kennedy (CEO and Founder of MOVE guides), and Ida Tin (Founder and CEO at Clue) spoke about their lessons from setting up a company from scratch. Getting a Chief People Officer in early, recruiting with an in-house team, and knowing when to scale – and when not to scale – were just some of the panelists’ advice. Hiring on values, but having a diverse range of personalities, also was a top tip from the panelists.

The second session featured Co-founder of Unruly, a video ad agency, Sarah Wood. In her session on diversity and ‘unruliness’ in the workplace, she explained how her organization goes to huge lengths to ensure diversity is at the top of the business agenda – and reaps the rewards as a result. She gave her top tips for other companies too, including the ‘small stuff, like having a table everyone can eat at, and family can sit at when they visit’.

The biggest takeaway from Sarah’s session on diversity? Including women in the economy on an equal basis with men could add a staggering $28 trillion to the global economy by 2025.

The final stand-out session from day one of HR Tech World Amsterdam was from former Editor-in-Chief at Huffington Post and now CEO and Founder of Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington, who spoke about a third metric – alongside money and power – that can benefit your bottom line: wellbeing.

‘Can you achieve true success through a relentless race to the top at the exclusion of all else’, she asked. The answer was, of course, ‘no.’  The founder of Huffington Post explained how, as she recovered after collapsing from exhaustion and burnout, she realized companies ‘are doing it all wrong’. Now, she said, she’s determined to get eight hours sleep each night, and encourage more people to switch off by switching off their smartphones.

‘We always know how much battery our smartphone has,’ she explained, ‘what about you – how much battery do you have left?’

On women in the workplace, Arianna also was quick to highlight that ‘no is allowed to be a one-word sentence for women’.

There were other great sessions during the first day of HR Tech World in Amsterdam, for example, Josh Bersin’s overview of the HR tech landscape was, as usual, an excellent whistle-stop tour of all you need to know in the sector right now. And we may be bias, but our demo of using AI to automate admin tasks in HR, thanks to Alexa, was also well received.

However, it was these three sessions which stood out the most in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

Great leaders, sharing best practice, setting out new ideas, and fast-tracking creativity in the sector is always going to inspire innovation and disruption – that’s ultimately then going to drive new technologies and ways of thinking. More of this please, HR tech event organizers!

Follow us for updates at day two of HR Tech World Amsterdam on Twitter now.



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