Everyone likes to build bridges; to extend hand across the divide in friendship. There isn’t, admittedly, much opportunity to do this in our day to day working lives.
But if we think about it we do tend to set up fairly distinct tribes in the office. How often does the creative team sit down with accounts and ask them how they’re getting on? How about the IT team spending some time with sales? Doesn’t happen very often. What about the greatest divide at all, between men and women?
We’re not saying most offices look like the set of Mad Men, far from it, but there’s a divide all right and it isn’t doing us any favours. The problem is that we associate different jobs with the different genders. That’s been damaging to business as well as to women in the workplace and the war is starting to see another battle on the horizon. It might just be skirmishes along the front right now but it’s going to start heading our way, and soon.
It’s all because of Cloud computing.
Traditionally, IT has been seen as a man’s job. Around one in five staff working as IT operators are women. Figures released two years ago showed that this number had actually dropped in the last decade.
What IT operators have had to be , traditionally, is clear, well organised, methodical, understanding of new technology developments and able to implement them. That has rarely been a team that’s been integrated with the rest of a business. The IT Crowd may be an invention but who hasn’t looked at Moss and Roy and recognised the same traits in their own colleagues? (Sorry, but there’s a reason why it’s funny!).
That is all changing with Cloud computing. It is demanding a restricting of how IT works within a business. It fundamentally changes everything from how IT is strategized, how it is built and even operated. Think of something as simple as hosted Exchange. A tiny, tiny change that shifts how you operate your business.
Sales and IT suddenly need to start working closely together. Strategy and business development teams need to have IT in their meetings. IT needs to be able to stand up and be counted and they need to be able to communicate simply, clearly and succinctly what impact they can have on the business.
Clearly, this is something both men and women can do. Some of the best men I know can be calm under pressure. But it could also be a glimmer of light for women who want to get in to IT and the technology sector.
It means we’re going to be making different demands from IT professionals. Communication is going to be far more important and if we look at the sectors women currently work in, then this is a skill that dominates; journalism, PR, broadcasting – these are all professionals where there are more women than men. Being able to talk and build bridges between teams is something women pride themselves on. If job descriptions for IT professionals start to shift to incorporate this need then chances are they will see more women applying.