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Women in Technology: Supporting Diversity in a Technical Workplace

Diversity in the technical workforce is a valuable asset for all companies, because it encourages different types of thinking and taps into the full potential of your team. Come learn from one AWS organization how a fast-moving, fast-growing team has put in place a "diversity circle" for personal and professional development. This program provides a peer mentoring group that builds skills and establishes informal networking support. The host and active participants of this two-year program will share tips and best practices for running a diversity peer mentoring group that spans engineering, product management, and operations.

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Women in Technology: Supporting Diversity in a Technical Workplace

  1. 1. Women in Technology: Supporting Diversity in a Technical Workplace August 11, 2016 Laura Grit, Sr. Principal Technologist, AWS Sarah Zamith, Software Development Manager, AWS Neha Shetty, Software Development Engineer, AWS
  2. 2. Why is diversity important?
  3. 3. Amazon retail flywheel Growth Customer Experience Sellers Traffic Selection
  4. 4. AWS: unleashing untapped potential Growth of AWS Innovators Career development for innovators Role models attract more innovators Innovation leaders
  5. 5. What is a Diversity Circle?
  6. 6. Circle structure Circle members – employees at relatively the same stages in their career (or other commonalities) Sponsor – senior employee typically 1-2 levels above circle members
  7. 7. Circle membership Common • All women • All part of the same organization Diverse • Diverse levels of experience • Diverse roles: managers, product managers, software engineers, systems engineers • Diverse cultural backgrounds
  8. 8. Circle member responsibilities Circles are member-led • Schedule meetings • Define agenda • Lead discussions • Plan activities
  9. 9. Sponsor responsibilities Create environment where people are comfortable expressing thoughts, sharing experiences, and asking questions
  10. 10. Creating trust in the circle Create a safe environment for learning Develop strong relationships among members
  11. 11. Facilitating the circle Hold regular meetings
  12. 12. Facilitating the circle Hold regular meetings Leverage existing resources
  13. 13. Facilitating the circle Hold regular meetings Leverage existing resources Establish circle members as leaders
  14. 14. Facilitating the circle Hold regular meetings Leverage existing resources Establish circle members as leaders Provide feedback, encouragement
  15. 15. Circle Sponsor Perspective
  16. 16. Launching a circle Determine your motivation Identify sponsor & members Allocate time for members
  17. 17. Learnings: Circle structure development Stay connected Adjust circle formula to meet the needs of your circle Allocate a budget Make time for retrospectives
  18. 18. Learnings: Circle member development Advocate for each other Develop circle members as leaders Limit the size of the circle Continue other types of mentoring and development
  19. 19. Learnings: Circle sponsor development Build relationships Accelerate the virtuous cycle of growth Fuel passion for myself and others
  20. 20. Have fun! Get members out of normal work environment • Blackberry picking • Happy hour • Lunches • Pottery painting • Hiking
  21. 21. Circle Member Experiences and Learnings
  22. 22. Types of meetings Inspiration Knowledge Practice Retrospective
  23. 23. Inspiration Learning from experiences
  24. 24. Practice Example: Design reviews What we did: Technical presentation practice
  25. 25. Knowledge Technical and career development
  26. 26. Personal learning: Communication strategies Communication changes impact perceptions Remove lessing language • Just • Sorry • Try
  27. 27. Retrospective Reflect back Brainstorm topics for future sessions
  28. 28. Personal learning: Gaining confidence Previously • Limited participation in meetings • Being a follower instead of leader
  29. 29. Personal learning: Gaining confidence Currently • Organizing circle sessions • More involved with hiring • Mentoring • Host for Amazon S3 tech talks
  30. 30. Measuring success Career path Growing influence
  31. 31. Start your own circle
  32. 32. Remember to complete your evaluations!
  33. 33. Thank you!

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