Barbara Skerritt, Grit Board Member and Senior IT Director, Global Head of Product at ICON
Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as Senior IT Director, Global Head of Product at ICON.
My latest role as Senior IT Director, is Head of Product is most definitely one of my more exciting roles thus far.
I am leading an amazing diverse team of product owners and managers, in developing ICON’s Digital Platform, which is a large program of work, to enable us to digitalise our processes around new digital technologies to deliver clinical trials.
What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why is it so important?
On a personal level, I have two daughters and I want them to have the same opportunities regardless of gender.
From a business perspective, I have honed in on what I can do to effect change in my particular area of IT. IT is heavily male dominated industry and the literature tells us that technology needs diversity, especially when we are trying to build products that will be consumed by over 51% of the general population.
As an organisation, we need to challenge the current environment, by bringing in more diverse experience and viewpoints, which will enable us to create more innovative solutions.
Why? Not only is it the right thing to do, diversity has a business impact, not only on the ability to creatively innovate but more diverse organisations achieve about 35% increase in revenues.
What are the benefits to having more women in leadership?
As Christine LeGarde said “When women are part of the game, the game is better”.
Women bring a different lens to the table. If women see more women in leadership positions, they can envision themselves in those positions, if they want them. From a product perspective as I stated above over 51% of the population are women so we need to have their opinions when building products.
What should organisations consider when reviewing their gender equality goals?
Evaluate the gender equality and equity at all levels in all departments. Set realistic goals and measure against these.
Bring in policies which encourage equity at all levels. Be intentional in you gender equality and equity deliverables and goals.
As a valued Grit board member and summit moderator, what do you hope speakers and attendees will get from attending the day?
I hope that they see strong, capable women and learn some valuable lessons on how to be the person that they want to be.
Any final thoughts?
When I speak to women, I encourage them by telling them they need to ask for what you want or go for the job with the next level up, even if that is not in your wheelhouse, there are lots of transferrable skills.
Nobody is going to come and ask you; do you want this job? You’ve got to take the initiative. Do you want this challenge? If you don’t ask, you’ll never know, and you’ll never be given the opportunities if you don’t ask.