One of the moments that earned me a reputation around the office for cynicism and snark took place a few years back when working with a consultant on re-naming our former VoiceCon conference -- a process that culminated in the 2011 re-brand to Enterprise Connect. To get a sense of our audience, the consultant asked for the most common title among our attendees. She meant job title, but I immediately blurted out: "Mister."
In other words, this was a very male crowd.
Of course neither our audience nor the industry it serves was ever as male as it seemed, but the women working in enterprise communications haven't gotten as much recognition or opportunity as they've deserved. That's beginning to change, and it needs to change more, which is why we've embarked on an effort to raise the profile of women in enterprise communications, using the tools at our disposal to help with networking, recognition, and sharing of ideas and experiences.
One such tool is Enterprise Connect's editorial website, No Jitter, where we've launched a series on women in enterprise communications. Our first profile, written by my program co-chair Beth Schultz, introduces you to Jeanne Spinoza, telecom manager at Brown University in Providence, R.I. Jeanne serves on Enterprise Connect's Advisory Board, a group of end users who help us stay plugged into the community on a year-round basis.
A 40-year industry veteran, Jeanne's story has a number of great takeaways for those of us looking for the next generation of women leaders and innovators: Her undergraduate degree was in a non-technical field (psychology), demonstrating that, while increasing STEM opportunities for girls and women is critical today and in the future, STEM isn't the only place to find great women leaders for the enterprise communications industry. Jeanne is also an informal mentor, not only to the women she seeks to uplift, but to any younger colleagues.
No Jitter also regularly runs pieces from another great woman tech leader, Erin Leary, who has written about the joys and challenges of her role at a major aerospace company (and also shares her insights with us as another of our Enterprise Connect Advisory Board members). And Sheila McGee-Smith, the leading industry analyst in the contact center space, is also one of the most dedicated proponents of the women in enterprise communication cause -- in her writing, her speaking appearances, and in her potent social media presence.
We want more. We'd love stories of women in enterprise communications -- especially from women, but not exclusively. If you're a man who's found successful strategies for finding, hiring, and promoting women within your organization, we'd love to hear from you and tell your story (or, even better, let you tell it) on No Jitter.
Women in enterprise communications is going to be a much larger topic at Enterprise Connect 2019 (March 18-21 in Orlando) than it's ever been before. We're hoping to hold meetups and other gatherings, including program content, and help informally with any networking efforts that anyone wants to make. We know that this cultural change has to be driven from both the top and the bottom, the C-suite and the grassroots.
I'll be the first to admit that Enterprise Connect has been late to the issue of women in tech. We hope to be able to make up for lost time, and we hope you'll help in an effort that we can all agree is overdue.