Recipe for an apple pie

I wish I was a passionate culinary talent, and that I could go for the easy solution: a spectacular apple pie recipe with ditto photo and Youtube link. Proven that I’m not just another alpha man in IT in a minimum of time. Done! Unfortunately, I hate cooking. And why spend time on something you hate and that someone can do much better.

I think the latter is the pretext for women NOT to get into ICT.
The question is how did it get to this point?

We all know that gender-related patterns are established early in childhood and today’s parents have an overwhelming responsibility to tackle this problem from the root. If girls are pushed from an early age into well-intentioned, but one-sided patterns with a caring mother as an example and are de facto kept away from technical “boys” matters, the barrier to a more technical education will be very high. And without technical training, the threshold to a technological sector will remain very high.
Unknown is unloved and technology will be something for the majority of women they will want to stay as far away from as possible. And let’s face it: people without a technological sense will be the illiterates of tomorrow, which in turn will lead to decades of inequality. Don’t miss the train should be today’s motto. As a woman, do not opt for an office management course, but dare to step out of your comfort zone.

As an entrepreneur, you cannot change much about this historical background.
What you can do is create the climate in which cultural change can unfold. A climate in which diversity is supported.

I remember starting IT sales in the early 90’s when I ended up in a completely macho environment. The only woman in the sales department was a back office sales person who had to endure the wonderfully funny comments scornfully. The other women were at the front desk, in HR or, at best, legal. In upper management or even below, there were little women – let alone other diversity – to notice. I wish I had shown a little more maturity and courage back then to change this climate, but better late than never.

Just as the ban on gender roles in personal situations needs to be broken, so should the corporate world. Because yes, today’s companies are doing everything they can to win the war for talent. And addressing the niche of diversity in marketing terms is often no more than flat opportunism to appeal to as many new talent as possible. How many companies today really mean it when they speak out for more diversity?
How many companies actually achieve a quota of 30 to 40 percent women, but then do not say that the majority of these women are in a subordinate administrative role?

Where orchestrated woman-only events are organized with cava, as a facade for the still less female-friendly culture. This is not what gender equality is about. Gender equality is realizing that women’s input is vital for companies to face the challenges of the future.

One of my best decisions ever was to start my own company over 10 years ago. And above all to have the confidence in a woman in management. The influence that this had cannot be underestimated today. As a company, we would certainly not be where we are today if we had started a white men IT club. The intuitive, creative – yes, even softer – approach has become our trademark today, distinguishing us from our competitors who have yet to carry on their macho legacy.

At one point in Netleaf’s history, there were 5 women out of 9 employees. Now that we are moving towards 20 employees, this share has shrunk, but the will to strive for a 50/50 balance will always be there. And more importantly, we are prepared to allocate key positions to women. Today, 2 out of 5 Netleaf shareholders are women.

Do not expect miracles from large-scale media campaigns by the government or movements. The whole ‘woke’ concept has become so loaded that the outcome of the concept can no longer be woke at all.

Start with yourself and your own business. Question everything, dare to adjust. But I am enthusiastic about the ‘Girl Code’ project. Not as a side project but as a mirror for the values that Netleaf really stands for.

The term “advanced insight” is used inappropriately these days, but I honestly think that at Netleaf we are not afraid to constantly evaluate, admit mistakes, and change. A wise Anglo-Saxon statesman once said: ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often’.

– Kris Leysen
Managing Director & Co-Founder Netleaf