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Leticia Latino van Splunteren, business isn’t just about the bottom line. It’s about changing industry culture, building meaningful relationships and contributing to a family legacy.
The discussion about gender equity in the workplace is nothing new. It’s been ongoing for decades, but we’ve made a good deal of progress overall. However, we still have a lot of problems encouraging diversity in the telecom industry.
Varied perspectives make for a more dynamic, in-touch and ultimately sustainable organization, meaning that it’s not just a moral judgment — it’s also smart business. The shortage of females in leadership roles in the telecom world is still high and makes diverse organizations much harder to build.
This leaves a lot of telecom businesses asking the question: “How can we attract more diverse recruits?” Fortunately, addressing imbalances in telecom isn’t as difficult as many might assume.
Encourage diverse leadership.
Opportunities for advancement are a powerful incentive in recruiting top talent, and the best way to recruit female candidates revolves around this very simple concept. Step one is to underscore that the same opportunities exist for male and female recruits by encouraging women in leadership positions. Drawing on diverse perspectives in leadership will pay off quickly as you can expect more:
- Customer engagement and a better understanding of individual consumers
- Creative and innovative thought
- Sustainable growth
- Positive impressions of the company that will help recruit talent
If candidates see your company as an active promoter of women in telecom with a culture that makes advocacy a priority, they will be more interested in working with you.
Hold the door for others.
It’s not easy for women to find their way in this industry. When they do, though, it’s helpful if they can provide support for others still at the beginning of their career.
I’m passionate about advocating for women in telecom positions because I know that it makes a difference. Women are much more likely to start at entry-level roles than their male counterparts, and they tend to make less. I’m a firm believer in the idea that people should be paid and positioned according to the value that they represent to a company, but that’s not always the case in telecom.
We can change the situation by supporting and pushing for assurances of pay equity to make for a more welcoming and enticing culture in telecom. Women who’ve fought through the barriers to entry have indispensable insight into the matter of gender equity in telecom, and no one out there is better positioned to have an impact on it.
Encourage mentorship and self-advocacy in company culture.
Of course, helping bring women on board is just part of the equation. Business leaders can also make a positive difference by equipping women in telecom with the tools to find success.
The best way to get others to promote your contributions is to start promoting yourself. Women need to take on the roles of self-advocates, but that’s much easier with the benefit of guidance from a more experienced figure. Unsurprisingly, though, these relationships tend to be divided along gender lines.
As women occupy a relatively small share of leadership roles in this industry, chances for them to find more experienced mentor figures are limited. That’s why it’s important for women with telecom backgrounds to seek out opportunities to pass on the benefits of their experience.
Having a mentor figure to offer insight and the benefit of years of experience can fundamentally impact one’s career. So, just as women need to advocate for themselves, it’s also important that telecom companies encourage mentorship in the company culture. It will make your company more attractive to female candidates if they know that it will be a positive career move. Leticia is an active mentor in the Women in Wireless Leadership Forum and in the National Association of Tower Erectors.
Develop a passion for telecom early on.
The themes of mentorship and advocacy carry over into the next generation as well. Based on my experiences, there are three main reasons young women tend not to consider telecom as a career path:
- The passion or curiosity for telecom isn’t instilled in girls early on by parents.
- Girls aren’t aware of the opportunities available in the field.
- They don’t possess the same confidence as boys of their capability to have a successful career when it comes to telecom
Correcting for these is essential if we’re ever going to address the gender imbalance in the industry, and we’re going to have to start with young people to pull it off.
Keep at it.
Correcting for gender imbalances in telecom won’t be an overnight fix. But, if everyone plays their part — business leaders, women in telecom and women looking to enter the industry — it will make the process much easier.
In addition to running Neptuno USA and SmartTecPort, Leticia is also a passionate advocate of nurturing “Human Connections” through her Back2Basics Podcast and #Time2Reconnect movement. Leticia was honored with the 2018 Women in IoT award by Connected Magazine and was recently appointed by FCC’s Chairmain Ajit Pai as a full member of the Broadband Advisory Committee (BDAC) and as the Chair of the Job Skills and Training Working group. She has been featured as one of the prominent women in Telecom by TowerXchange, the Wireless Industry Association, Inside Towers and AGL magazine. Neptuno was also a ﬁnalist in the 2019 WeInnovate! the program promoted by WBENC-Certiﬁed Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) to showcase their company’s expertise in areas of innovation that are critical to WBENC’s Corporate Members. She co-incidentally happened to meet Bill George as the Keynote Speaker at the WBENC Summit Salute in March and highly recommends his book ‘True North’. “I loved the book because it shares the stories of failures and personal tragedies of over 100 top executives, and how those shaped them up to be the leaders they are”, shares Leticia.
Tera Jenkins is a Best Selling Author, host of Business Innovators Radio and contributor to Small Business Trendsetters and Business Innovators Magazine covering Influencers, Innovators and Trendsetters in Business, Health, Finance, and Personal Development.