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December 2018/January 2015

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ITSMF and Accenture launch Women’s Leadership Forum

Partnership aims to increase women of color at the C-suite level

The Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF), which works to develop executive-level talent among African American tech professionals, has partnered with consulting, technology services and outsourcing company Accenture in a new initiative. The initiative, launched at the first-quarter ITSMF meeting and awards event in February 2018, is a long-term effort to advance the careers of women of color and bring more of them into CIO roles.

Numbers tell the story
A 2013 ITSMF membership survey revealed that 22 percent of ITSMF members are female, but only 2 percent are at the C-suite level. In contrast, the membership of the ITSMF Management Academy, which grooms mid-level managers for top IT jobs and full ITSMF membership, is 52 percent female, demonstrating the steady falloff in female representation at higher levels on the IT career ladder.

The ITSMF Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) was developed with Accenture, which brings expertise in developing women and IT industry insights to the partnership. The WLF gives the women members of ITSMF their own venue to learn, share experiences, seek advice and gain insights into careers. Participants engage in conversations about identifying and overcoming barriers to success, and capitalize on their strengths and those of the WLF network.

“The format is constantly evolving as we solicit feedback from the membership on how it is doing,” says Viola Thompson, executive director of ITSMF.

Building career capital
The theme for the inaugural year of the WLF was based on Accenture’s 2018 International Women’s Day research on “building career capital.” Participants explored the relative importance of skills, networks and experience to career advancement.

ITSMF held a WLF session on the topic at its second-quarter meeting and symposium in Redmond, WA, and a third WLF session as part of the Q3 Symposium in Indianapolis, IN in August. Focused on the experience portion of career capital, the session, dubbed “lead with impact,” featured Pamela Rucker, CIO advisor and co-chair for the executive women in IT initiative at the CIO Executive Council (council.cio.com), as keynote speaker.

Participation and planning
The session focused on two important topics for professional women: “being a trailblazer and a risk taker” and “the impact on your personal life from your career journey.” The panel presented material supported by research and offered advice and best practices at each stage of the journey. Attendees participated in interactive exercises that included completing a self-assessment and identifying personal and professional barriers to success. They planned specific individual actions to employ the strategies discussed in the workshop.

“We are proud of our partnership with ITSMF to support the development and advancement of women of color in IT and look forward to continuing to make progress together,” says Traci Dunn, Accenture’s North America inclusion and diversity lead.

A strategy session took place during the fourth-quarter ITSMF symposium in November.

About ITSMF
Since its beginning in 1996, ITSMF has cultivated the next generation of C-level IT executives through leadership development programs, formal mentoring, executive coaching, strategic partnerships and key alliances with partners like Accenture. For additional information, see www.itsmfonline.org.

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