An interview with Camelia Cirjoi

With only 1 month until our big BWT Marquee event I sat down with Camelia Cirjoi (Senior Director of IT Services at SAP) and co-lead of BWT to discuss gender parity.

Camelia

What do you think of when you hear gender parity?

What comes to mind is equal opportunity and flexibility for both men and women to have a balanced participation in all aspects of life.  There needs to be balanced representation on both sides.

In some areas of the globe the first step to gender parity is to give the basic human rights to women, access to education – so many areas are lacking basic rights which is a prerequisite to get to gender parity.  It means different things to different people depending where you live.

Do we appreciate diversity at SAP?

Absolutely, we are on the right track. I remember when I joined SAP there were only 17% of women in leadership.  I have seen over the years many initiatives to support women grow at SAP and increase  leadership. The GIRLsmarts4tech program is an example that encourages girls to explore technology.

We need to spend more time mentoring and coaching girls and women in this regard.

On the international women’s day website they have Pledge for Parity pledge topics: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/Pledge-For-Parity .

Which one do you resonate with?

All of them are so important so it was hard to pick one.

I picked ones that I relate to the most

  • Help women and girls achieve their ambition. Part of this is because I have a daughter who I want to see succeed and achieve her goals. I also have a son and I would like to see him support girls in their ambitions. It is important to be a role model and sponsor girls – I work in IT and there is not a lot of women in this field.
  • Inclusive and flexible work environment – I specifically spend time with my team to discuss work/life balance and how is that different for each employee.  We introduced a self-governed work environment based on trust and accountability.  I have seen this has created a more open environment.  Work life balance has  increased over the years and with the flexible work conditions productivity has gone up.

 

What do you see happening in the workplace around gender?

On one hand, I do see a lot of focus on gender diversity.  I see more inclusive hiring practices. We have mainly girls on our team which is great and we are making more conscious hiring practices. However we are still far from where we should be. In many areas of our business there may be awareness about the gap but not much action taken.

 

Are quotas useful?

I think they are useful because they raise awareness, transparency and they open the conversation. The discussion around it raises the awareness and if nothing else the awareness is a good start. How we achieve the quota and whether we have the right % is a different question. At SAP we have a goal to have 25% of women in leadership by 2017 , this KPI helped us be aware of where we are and it helps take action.

What would bring us closer to gender parity?
It starts from awareness.  The decision makers and influencers need to be aware of the current gaps in order for change to start happening.
It starts with women who have amazing potential but they are not aware; we can coach women to build on their strengths and lean in.
It also starts with involving men in the conversation. Without the support of men we will not close the gaps.

Thank you Camelia for your time.  Over the next few weeks we will be sharing others perspectives on gender parity.

Steph Redivo (co-lead Social Media)

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About BWTVancouver

Bringing Women Together is an event organized voluntarily by a group of women from various professional backgrounds in the Vancouver, BC, area looking to inspire leadership and networking opportunities among peers in their community.
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