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Women Can Succeed In HR, But Are Not Limited To It: Kat Kennedy, Degreed

Kat Kennedy, Chief Product Officer, Degreed; shares her views about gender diversity and women in technology

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Degreed, an enterprise level learning and development start up, and ranks itself very highly on gender diversity goals. Talking to Rajguru Tandon, Kat Kennedy, Chief Product Officer, Degreed; shares her views about gender diversity and women in technology.    

What are the biggest challenges for women in leadership roles?

The challenges actually start before women are able to get into leadership roles. I heard a podcast Sheryl Sandberg did where she stated 50 percent of men think that having 1 in 10 female senior leaders is okay. And even more disheartening, 30 percent of women agreed. We need to smoothen the pathways for getting women into leadership, and men have to be a part of that conversation.

A KornFerry study said, “The data suggests a strong need for more women in the workforce to take on leadership roles,” said Goleman, Co-Director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University. “When you factor in the correlation between high emotional intelligence and those leaders who deliver better business results, there is a strong case for gender equity. Organizations must find ways to identify women who score highly on these competencies and empower them.”

What progress have women made in terms of being perceived as a leader and what more can be done?

There is much work to be done in terms of equality in the workplace. Many don’t realize that gender equality is not just a good business practice, it’s been proven to improve the bottom line. A Gallup poll found that gender-diverse business units have better financial outcomes than those dominated by one gender.

We want our companies to perform better? We need more women in leadership and it's up to business leaders to make it a priority.

What are the work-life balance issues for the women in corporate world?

It’s often overlooked but women are already finding success. Seventy percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the labor force, with over 75 percent employed full-time. Mature organizations have taken up several initiatives to retain women on their workforce and make it convenient to attain their career goals. Women need continuous knowledge and skills enhancement to stay relevant to the organization and improve their performance.

How can women find the perfect balance between personal and professional life?

In today's society, I don’t believe there is a perfect balance. Instead, I think each day you have to be intentional about what gets your attention. Some days that means work, other days that means friends and family. And it’s important to have people around you (partner, colleagues, family, etc) that are able to support and to work in an organization that values diversity, equality, family and work-life balance.

Women are perceived to have a better EQ while men with better IQ. Do you think women leaders are better suited for some particular areas like HR?

In terms of EQ, women outperform men in emotional self-awareness, coaching & mentoring, influence, inspirational leadership, conflict management, organizational awareness, adaptability, teamwork and achievement orientation. All of these are critical traits for leadership. So while women can definitely succeed in areas like HR, they are not limited to just one field.

How can a woman achieve domain expertise in the technology sector to equalise gender diversity?

It’s not just women who need to upskill. 38 percent of CEOs are extremely concerned that a lack of key skills is threatening their organizations' growth prospects. There are resources where you can gain any skill you need or want. I encourage everyone to invest in themselves, hone the skills necessary to give you as many opportunities as possible in your career. We need more women in STEM, absolutely, but I encourage everyone to be learning all the time, no matter the subject.