By Stephanie Strahl, Channel Marketing Manager and WISE Allyship Committee Chair at RingCentral
The tech industry has always been notoriously male-dominated, something we’re all aware of and can easily see with our own eyes within the companies we work at. Though strides have been made to increase the number of women in the tech workforce, there are still biases and discriminatory thought processes that continue to get in women’s way.
Those of us in the industry have a front-row seat to the difficulties we as women face in this majority-male world. And as we all know, the tech industry is a microcosm of the global problem of gender inequity, and the misogyny and injustice women continue to face in society at large.
As women are the underprivileged group in this scenario, we unfortunately can’t change this perception alone. The good thing: there are men out there, our allies, who are committed to helping! But how do we communicate the importance of allyship to those who are unreceptive to a new way of thinking?
The concept of allyship for women—the support, advocacy, and action of men to advance gender equality and inclusion—has become increasingly amplified in recent years and continues to grow. Male allies first acknowledge they’re on the advantaged side of the coin. Part of becoming a great ally includes a willingness to be open-minded, listening to the needs of women, and continuing to learn more on the concept while also unwinding biases. Overall, an ally should use their voice to actively advocate for and empower women, not just in the workplace but in their everyday lives.
Now you may be thinking all this sounds great in theory, but how can we actually continue to create this awareness and gain allies within our organizations? Well, employee resource groups, or ERGs, are a great start. At RingCentral, a group of incredible women founded an ERG in late 2019 called Women In Saas Empowerment. WISE for short, it formed as a message group aimed to create a community of female employees within RingCentral’s global workforce and provide a safe place for discussion and support. The number of members quickly grew, with some men joining as supporters throughout the following years. But having this safe space to have conversations with other women about their past and current experiences wasn’t exactly going to enact change.
In early 2021, WISE’s then-president realized a huge opportunity for this group was being missed—highlighting the importance of male allyship to drive change and actively recruiting supportive men to the group.
Hence, the WISE Allyship Committee was born. At the time, I had a growing passion for harnessing the power of allyship, so I excitedly (and nervously!) accepted the duties of Committee Chair. My goal was to learn more about the subject myself, and how we could inspire change at RingCentral to make it a front-runner in the industry for women’s equity and empowerment.
Since then, the WISE Allyship Committee—made up of passionate women and men—has held well-attended internal webinars and conversation-provoking workshops on the subject of allyship. We continue to find ways we can recruit allies to the group and bring awareness of how to be an authentic advocate. Success can be seen in WISE’s growing numbers, currently nearing 600, and the activism and support of our male members.
As we see improvements across the industry, opportunities for women in the workforce are on the rise. Even so, there is much work to be done in furthering gender equity. The more we talk about it and harness the power of allyship, the bigger strides we can make.
Stephanie Strahl is a Channel Marketing Manager at RingCentral, where she also leads the Allyship Committee for the company’s Women in SaaS Empowerment (WISE) employee resource group. Aside from WISE, Stephanie’s role involves managing partner marketing relationships as well as the planning and execution of field and virtual events, marketing activities, and campaigns. Stephanie graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communication and Journalism. She currently resides in Denver.