HeForShe – Chris Ciauri, Executive Vice President, Salesforce EMEA: Gender inequality affects us all

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have you witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?

Chris Ciauri in a suitThe UN HeForShe campaign an inspirational way to remind everyone – men and women – that gender inequality affects us all.

On a personal level, supporting campaigns like it has become even more important to me since the birth of my two daughters. It’s incredibly important to me to set an example for them and to show them that I believe they can achieve anything they want. It’s also about showing that it’s important to stand up for what you believe is right – after all, that’s the only way you can bring about real change.

I’ve benefitted enormously from working with hugely talented women and seen first-hand the amazing business benefits of diversity. Many of my colleagues say that you cannot be what you cannot see and I think that’s true of this campaign. When some men stand up and say gender equality is important, many others will think “I can do that too” and will be inspired to take action.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

Gender equality is not, and should not be seen as, a female-only issue. We’re all part of the solution. In a way it’s even more incumbent upon men to get involved and help drive the change as they hold so many of the leadership positions today – especially in the technology sector.

What’s more, gender equality makes good business sense. There are countless studies that prove that a more diverse workforce is a more successful one. As I said earlier, I’ve seen it first hand: the benefits are huge – stronger teams deliver better results for customers, and employee retention and attraction rates are higher.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

My experience at Salesforce is that we’re very welcome.

The reality is that no organisation can afford to ignore half the available talent pool. This fact alone means gender equality is something we’re all vested in. The more voices that are drawing attention to the issue, and the more diverse they are, the better – after all isn’t that the whole point of the HeforShe campaign?

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Gender equality is an issue that impacts all of us. It’s my belief that men have a critical part to play in helping to achieve it. Groups designed to offer support and networking opportunities for women don’t mean that men aren’t part of the solution.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think this comes back down to having role models. You need at least a few men to get involved and become role models for their male colleagues.

Some organisations also do a really great job of celebrating diversity, with both male and female representatives participating in events, being put forward for external awards etc., and I think this is a fantastic way of keeping the issue front of mind. Another great, practical way of getting more men involved is through mentoring programmes.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes and it’s something I enjoy and find very rewarding. I currently mentor six women who are all from different areas of the company. If I’m honest, I think I get as much out of it as they do, as our conversations continually make me consider things from a different perspective.

Personally I don’t think gender makes a difference to the mentor or mentee, it’s more about the personality fit and the experience that they can offer. But I do think it is important for male mentors to be aware of issues like gender bias, in order to add maximum value to female mentees.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

Over the years I have noticed some differences between mentoring men and women and I think that it’s important that mentors are aware that this can be the case. For example I’ve found that some women don’t push for progression as much as their male counterparts. It’s therefore vital that male mentors help their female mentees to push harder and that leaders understand this difference and give women the opportunity to move up.

Having said this, principles of good mentoring are exactly the same for men as for women: mentoring works best, regardless of gender, when both sides are committed to working together and understand what they want to gain from the relationship, as well as what they can offer. In my experience these are the relationships where the mentee moves most out of their comfort zone and sees the biggest benefit.

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