Women Leading Tech: “We Are On The Backfoot” VMware’s Heidi Savva Talks Gender Equality In A Post-Pandemic World

Women Leading Tech: “We Are On The Backfoot” VMware’s Heidi Savva Talks Gender Equality In A Post-Pandemic World
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine



Heidi Savva is the director of Dell Synergy ANZ at computing software company, VMware, as well as the diversity, equity, and inclusion lead.

With the 2022 B&T Women Leading Tech Awards just around the corner, we wanted to chat with some of the industry’s most established and most inspiring female leaders, and Savva certainly fits that bill.

We caught up with forward-thinking director to chat inclusiveness in tech, VMware’s “Women’s POD”, encouraging newcomers to challenge the status quo, and how COVID-19 continues to impact gender equality efforts across the sector.

B&T: Hi Heidi. What inspired VMware’s involvement in this year’s Women Leading Tech Awards?

Savva: We have a lot of talented women in our business, who have done extraordinary things. We want to celebrate their success, we want to celebrate all their hard work, and we want them to be recognised and acknowledged for the fantastic things they do. They are brilliant, smart women with lots of promise, and it’s time for them to shine. This is why we’re so excited to be part of the B&T Women Leading Tech Awards; they deserve the honour.

How do you think awards like Women Leading Tech help gender equality causes in the industry?

With the awards and with women in tech, we have some wonderful role models in our business who actually spend time in school [teaching] young girls how to code. We’ve got mentoring programs that our women participate in. They’re doing some extraordinary things in their communities, at work, in business, with clients. We’re getting some fabulous feedback from the community and our business partners. We’re also starting to see a shift in the market where people want to come and work at VMware, particularly based on the great things we’re doing for women in our business. It’s being noticed in the market.

Brands can sometimes be accused of doing “performative” sponsorships, particularly those relating to social issues (think Pepsi’s 2017 Kendell Jenner & BLM ad). What makes VMware’s sponsorship of WLT different?

We have a “Women’s POD”, a “Pride POD” and a “Disability POD” as part of the DEI [Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness] council. The acronym is “POD” but they’re called “Power of Difference” and it’s all about focusing on our women, our pride community, and our disability community. We have focus people to make all of us aware – in our business – of those three key areas. It’s about acknowledging people with differences, empowering people with differences. We want them to come and work for us because we know diversity, equity, and inclusion for VMware is crucial to our success in the present, and the future.

There is that four percentage gap we’re trying to work through with our senior HR leaders across the business. That’s one of the reasons we attract top talent, because VMware’s known in the market for equal pay for equal work. 

Bringing different thoughts [and] different ideas into our business is what we’re seeking.  This is why these awards are important to us. We want to show the market [and] the industry that not only do we take it seriously, but we also want to ensure these individuals who feel they belong in VMware could also be part of these awards moving forward

Many people believe there are currently more roles available in the tech sector than available workers. Based on that, does VMware offer any benefits or rewards policies to attract more women into the industry?

We’ve got mentoring programs. We’ve partnered up with WORK180 to help us attract talent. We also have great support with our leaders. We’re very conscious in our hiring policy [that] one-in-three candidates must be women. We are trying to hire and attract talent that will progress us. We do have [several] benefits for women, and also – part of our diversity, equity and inclusion council – we encourage women to join our internal council to help with those initiatives and programs we have.

We have [also] aligned with certain universities that we work with to attract talent. But it’s not just universities, it’s people from all walks of life. We know there is a shortage of people in this industry, but we’re trying to go out there and find the right people we think could make a difference in our business. 

Why is gender equality and female representation in the tech industry so often discussed and spoken about compared with other industries?

Because it makes sense, and it’s the right thing to do. We want to encourage all young girls. We want them to reach their full potential and challenge the status quo. Why would we not do that?

It’s sad we keep talking about these things, and I hope one day we don’t have to keep talking about gender equality, that it comes naturally, that it happens without having to question it. Until that time comes, we still have to fight it and we still have to keep moving forward. 

From a VMware perspective, we’re passionate about finding talent to help challenge what we’re doing and challenge the status quo. We want women to come in and feel comfortable and confident that they’re going to make a difference.

We’re starting to see how this is having an impact on our business; hiring lots of different women, who come in with different perspectives and points-of-view. We’re even seeing how they approach clients, partners, their community, [and] charities. It’s incredible. It helps build our culture and that’s really important to us. 

In terms of gender equality, what do you think the coming decade will look like for the tech industry?

If I look at it realistically, due to COVID, we’ve actually gone backwards in female representation. 

How did that happen?

The figures [suggest] we’ve gone back ten years. That [includes] going to bigger senior roles, and entering the workforce whether you’ve worked full time or part time. I’m hoping we play catch-up, [but] it’s going to be a challenge to have more women on boards, and have more women in senior roles. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m hoping that in the next ten years we’ll have made some shifts, but I don’t know how big those shifts will be. We need to make some time for it. 

We [want to] increase female representation. We’re working towards it, everyone across the company, from the CEO right through. 

Find out more about the Women Leading Tech Awards HERETickets to the awards are now on sale HERE.

As an initiative created to support gender parity and representation across the tech industry, Women Leading Tech is an event inclusive of non-binary and gender diverse members of the tech industry, as well as any individual identifying as a woman.

Thank you to our Women Leading Tech sponsors:




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