Six years ago, when Red Hat sponsored the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) event for the first time, we had a small presence. There were just five Red Hatters in attendance! Being new to the event, few people knew who we were, and they were even less were familiar with open source. It was an exciting time to join this event, because across the industry, the topic of women in tech was beginning to gain momentum.
Today the idea of diversity and inclusion isn’t a new topic, but it’s still a crucial one. The role that women play in tech and the importance of creating a strong pipeline of talent will be something the industry will need to continue to address.
Since our first time attending GHC, our involvement has grown significantly. This year more than 80 people will represent Red Hat at this event, including four speakers, two of our former Women in Open Source Award winners and several current interns who were actually hired at GHC last year. We have 10 people helping with our recruiting activities, and Red Hat is also sponsoring Open Source Day at GHC for the fifth year in a row.
So why do we keep going back?
It’s a pretty simple answer: We keep returning to GHC and have increased our involvement because Red Hatters have asked us to! GHC is more than a learning event. It’s more than a “women in tech event.” GHC provides an amazing opportunity to come together, to recruit great talent, to collaborate, and most importantly to learn from organizations and their leadership. As an open source company, we believe in the power of sharing knowledge and collaboration in all things. This event let’s us hear how other companies are recruiting and engaging diverse populations. And in turn, we’re able to share our own experiences and successes.
One of the other things that makes GHC unique is the audience: It’s targeted at tech. When we’re on site, we know we’re talking to people who are in our industry. Everyone there faces the same challenges and struggles.
GHC is one of my favorite events of the year because of what I’m able to learn from this community. I consider my visits to these events successful because I do a lot more listening than talking.
At the conference, I get to learn more about the issues people face so I can be an ally for them and better shape Red Hat’s efforts to foster diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion efforts are about everyone, no matter what demographic, and fostering an inclusive environment that can unlock their full potential.
Together, as the industry rallies around these efforts I believe we will ultimately increase the number of women inspired to pursue careers in technology. And I know that when we succeed, our industry and society more broadly will be in a better position to overcome the tough challenges we face today and the ones we will encounter in the future.
DeLisa Alexander is executive vice president and chief people officer at Red Hat.