Gavriella Schuster, Former Microsoft Executive, DEI Advocate
Gavriella has worked in the high tech industry for the last 30 years. As a builder and change agent, she specializes in building new businesses.
Our guest for this episode of The Brand Called You is a DEI Advocate. She preaches and works for improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace.
We are pleased to welcome Gavriella Schuster to our podcast today.
Gavriella Schuster is the executive board member, a former Microsoft Executive for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the high-tech industry. She is a founding sponsor of Women in Cloud and Women in Technology network. She is a board advisor to Workshare Partners, Artificial Solutions, and Content Technology. She has been recognized, awarded, and felicitated globally. She has also written a book titled, ‘BeCOME ALLIES’.
Why is Diversity Equity and Inclusion becoming so relevant in the high-tech industry?
Gavriella summarises the need for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace in three points;
- Talent shortage
Gavriella tells us that there is a tremendous talent shortage in the High-tech industry. Only 25% of the workforce of the High-tech industry is female so the organizations are trying to close the gap.
Researchers have proven that organizations having a diverse workforce are more profitable and innovative.
- The Great Resignation
Gavriella tells us that after the pandemic hit, a large number of women left their jobs, especially in the high-tech industry, so organizations are trying to figure out how to get them back into the workforce
Has the opportunity to work from home brought women back into the workforce?
According to Gavriella, the ability to work from home depends on various factors. She believes that the women who either do not have children or their children are in middle or high school can work from home, but for the women with younger children, who are dependent on their mothers for everything, working from home is super hard.
Challenges faced in empowering women, and what can be done to nullify those challenges?
Gavriella believes that there is a lot of unconscious bias against women that is ingrained in the system. This starts with the hiring process when the Job Descriptions are written in a way that restricts women from applying. They also focus on hiring the fit, not the diverse.
Networking is difficult for women
Gavriella tells us that networking generally starts with people who have been together since they were learning. So, networking in the high-tech industry is very male-dominated. Being a woman, it is very different to break into that male circle and covid has also worsened the situation.
The Bro Culture
Gavriella tells us that she has talked to many transgenders who have worked in the same place both as a man and a woman and they have many things against this bro culture. She tells us that the bro culture is noninclusive of women.
How do culture impact diversity and equity from the perspective of a candidate?
Gavriella tells us that diversity is subjective for every country. Different countries have different definitions of diversity. She tells us that there are countries where there is an equal contribution of women in the workplace whereas there are many countries that do not encourage women in the workplace.
What can society do to balance diversity?
Gavriella believes that society goes where the economy pushes it. So if there is a shortage of talent and the only way to cover the gap is to hire women, organizations will have to hire them. Another thing she talks about is making the right public policy for this matter. In her opinion, there should be a policy where the organizations must report their diversity ratio to the government and should have a taxonomy based on that.
The self-limiting beliefs that Gavriella has worked with and the successes she has seen?
Gavriella found out that women are raised to be humble, modest, and not to take risks. Women are expected to be perfect in every scenario and they are taught that if they work hard, their sincerity would be noticed. These are some things that lead to women holding themselves back.
How are the millennials and Gen Zs reacting to diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Gavriella tells us that this generation is raised to be more accepting and inclusive. This generation rejects the traditional norms and embraces diversity and differences. This generation is more their authentic self.
Gavriella has worked in the high tech industry for the last 30 years. Most recently she was the Corporate Vice President at Microsoft which she recently left after 25 years and has led businesses across multiple disciplines driving digital and cloud transformation, strategy and execution spanning all aspects of business model and product development, launch, marketing, sales and partner development. As a builder and change agent, she specializes in building new businesses.
She is also a fierce advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the high tech industry. She is a founding sponsor of both the Women in Cloud and Women in Technology Network. She sits on the board of directors for both organizations now as well as Chinasoft International, and the SHE Community. She is a board advisor for Berkshire Partners, Artificial Solutions, Corent Technology, The Women’s Business Collaborative, The International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners and the University of Washington Bothell. Last November she launched her BeCOME framework through a TEDx talk on gender equity and was awarded the ATHENA global leadership award for her advocacy on behalf of women in IT.