One of the biggest rounds of applause at Salesforce World Tour London 2016 was reserved for Anne-Marie Imafidon.
Anne-Marie is the Co-founder and CEO of Stemettes, a programme dedicated to inspiring more girls to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) - fields that are currently 86% male.
Anne-Marie’s own story, as a child prodigy growing up fascinated by how things work but with few role models or opportunities, struck a chord with the audience – men and women alike. Bright young people are being denied a chance to excel, just because of their gender, and we ought to do something about that.
So I’m glad to say that’s exactly what we are doing… and you are too. Here’s how.
In her keynote, Salesforce Chief Adoption Officer Polly Sumner explained how our company champions a new way of giving back to our communities: the 1-1-1 philanthropic model.
It means we donate 1% of our time, equity and product to non-profit organisations. So far we’ve given more than 1.4 million hours of service, $120 million in grants, and $250 million worth of free software to 28,000 good causes around the world.
That’s only possible because of our success, and that’s all down to the innovation of our customers and partners. So thank you.
But it doesn’t end there. More than 780 companies have joined us in making the same pledge, through Pledge 1%. In the UK, that includes names like Sage, Qubit, diginomica and DigitalGenius.
That’s a lot of support, for a lot of organisations. And one of the groups we’ve been particularly excited to partner with is Stemettes.
Most organisations we work with want to become bigger and more influential. But Anne-Marie will only feel her mission is a success when she’s out of a job.
“I’m hoping that one day we can close our doors, because we’re not needed anymore,” she explains. “I want us to make ourselves redundant.”
Sadly, with just 14% of jobs in STEM sectors held by women, there’s some way to go.
That journey is as much about inspiration as it is education. It’s about enabling girls who are interested in STEM subjects to connect with other, like-minded people: an experience one described as “magical”.
Jacquelyn Guderley, Stemettes’ Co-founder & COO, says: “It’s not that there aren’t lots of women out there doing it already, because they are. The problem is that the girls don’t see that. It’s about taking something you love and being able to do it – because why shouldn’t you?”
Stemettes encourage young women to meet and inspire each other at events, as well as organising mentors and work experience.
Anne-Marie describes the recent Outbox Incubator programme as: “Big Brother meets The Apprentice meets Dragon’s Den: 115 girls from around Europe, living under one roof, 45 at a time, for six weeks over one summer. It was a madhouse, but they were learning how to leverage technology for their own start-ups, businesses and careers.”
At Salesforce, we were eager to help, and not only financially. With more than 10,000 schoolgirls engaging with Stemettes’ events – and a huge social media buzz – measuring the impact of the work was proving challenging.
Anne-Marie recalls: “We ran a hackathon for International Women’s Day, and Salesforce came along as the main sponsor and supporter. But in the longer term we also wanted to be smarter about how we run as an organisation.
“We have a lot data, a lot of people, and a lot of interactions. We have fantastic volunteers, as well, and we needed one place to store all of that information – and also to pull together all the tools we used already, like Eventbrite and GetFeedback.
“We needed Salesforce to enable us to map our journey, and understand the impact we’re having.
“Before, we only knew a girl had been to an event twice because she posted photos online. Now not only can we see the girls that we work with, but we can see the ways they interact with us – and that allows us to analyse what we can do to improve.”
At Salesforce, our interest in gender equality is not new. We’re proud to be involved with the Women in Tech movement, and we were delighted that co-Leader of the London Salesforce Women in Technology User Group. Louise Lockie could come to Salesforce World Tour London to collect her #AwesomeAdmin award, which she earned onboarding 22 offices in eight countries for Wilmington plc.
She said: “We provide a space for women – and also friends of women who work in tech – to come together and talk about the challenges they face.
“The Women in Tech community is really strong in the Salesforce ecosystem. We had a super event up at Salesforce Tower – we had a keynote from Anne-Marie, a panel discussion with seven leading women, and Adam Seligman came over from the States.”
We were pleased to help – but then, we’ve always cared about making things fairer.
As Polly Sumner explains: “Since the beginning, our company has been held together by four values. We talk a lot about trust, growth and innovation – but the other one, that we maybe haven’t put out as strongly as we could, is equality.
“It’s not good enough for us to just promote equality in our own company. We want to take it out to the communities that we serve, and make promoting gender and race equality something that we stand for around the world.”
If you’d like to watch Polly’s keynote – including Anne-Marie’s interview – in full, you’ll find it below. But be prepared: you’ll want to get involved. (The good news is, in one way, you already are. Thank you.)