In general, women are rare in IT and tech jobs, but fortunately, that doesn't apply to our company. What do you think makes Swisslog Healthcare different compared to other companies?
Naima: In general, I feel that Swisslog Healthcare is very open to new talents and that everyone with a genuine idea is given an opportunity regardless of their background. Management teams I have worked with are transparent and approachable, which makes employees feel confident to speak up.
Giovanna: I see it in a similar way. I feel like the leaders of our company are free from bias when it comes to recruiting new talent or promoting staff. Evaluating the skills and professionalism of the individual is the only thing that matters.
Please be honest – where do we have room for improvement?
Giovanna: From my point of view, it would be great for us as a company, or rather, as an employer, to become even more visible to women on the job market. I'm happy that, through this interview, I can maybe draw a little bit of attention to us.
Naima: If I could make a wish, it would be raising even more awareness among the employees about the advantages of a gender diverse and inclusive workforce.
You are not only working in STEM jobs but also in leadership positions. What challenges do women in the technology industry with team lead positions face?
Giovanna: You can read many articles about the difficulties that women in leadership roles face every day: the lack of women in senior roles who promote other women, the lack of flexibility, cultural resistance towards female leadership, the gender pay gap, etc. But the most important ones for me are the prejudices that are still deeply rooted in our society. To overcome this, we need to already start in schools because, objectively speaking, even within the STEM area there is an imbalance. Women are less likely to pursue technical degrees such as mechanical or electronic engineering. They tend more towards degrees in energy, biomedical management, etc.
Naima: I think that, unfortunately, income gaps and growth opportunities are still prevalent everywhere in the world. That continues to be a major challenge.
Have you been confronted with prejudices in your careers so far? And if so, how did you deal with it?
Naima: Fortunately, I have noticed that only a few people tend to be obstructive or agree more with suggestions from their male counterparts. This may be part of their unconscious bias. I try to be transparent, assertive, and let my actions speak when I deal with such incidents.
Giovanna: For me it’s a bit different. Since the beginning of my career I had to deal with people that are not very willing to collaborate with a woman. However, over the years I have learned to manage such situations. Usually, when I join a team of only men, I introduce myself, I tell my story, I seek an open dialogue before issuing orders. I ask for their point of view on the relevant topics. This way, I value their opinions and it makes their unconscious bias vanish: They don’t just see my gender but respect me as a colleague and as their team leader. Of course, this doesn’t work all the time but the success rate is quite high.