Holly Shannon 

We’re really excited to have Sidney Madison Prescott on The Culture Factor today. She is the global Intelligent Automation lead at Spotify. And after our last interview Sidney had some topics and ideas that she really wanted to dive into on The Culture Factor. So today we’ll discuss the exodus of women in tech. You must love this. How do we preserve female leadership so they move up to the C suite, this gets even better, and a clearer definition of diversity. And as your hosts We are thrilled that she’s decided to join us and more importantly, open up on these important topics. Well, hello, Sydney, Madison. Prescott, welcome back to The Culture Factor. It’s really nice to have you.

Sydney Prescott 

It’s great to be here excited for another conversation with you both.

Holly Shannon 

Excellent.

Paul Jones 

Yes, thank you, Sydney. And we left off on our last interview with a small discussion about innovation and the glass ceiling. And we’d love to dive in more. You know, I find it so interesting that you and your team have a lot of pressure on you to innovate and a lot of times, feeling the pressure to perform can actually diminish your ability to perform. So I find this so interesting that you have been able to build a team and teams of innovation and innovating constantly. And you yourself have broken through many, what many people would consider glass ceilings. I’m really excited about this topic, talking about developing teams and helping team members break through glass ceilings. First of all, let’s talk about maybe some of those glass ceilings that exist and some of the glass ceilings that you yourself have encountered and overcome.

Sydney Prescott 

Absolutely. So there are definitely several. The first that comes to mind is The barrier to entry. And that’s very specific to someone who has not yet had a career in technology. And who is looking to enter the workforce, either as an engineer or an engineering manager, a developer, a backend engineer, what does it take to get there from a candidate perspective, and then also the levels of education and the experience and expertise that you need? those different attributes can often become a glass ceiling of sorts. And especially, I even think when I think of education, the barrier to entry in terms of one college degree, and then also the need to focus on specifically STEM degrees, such as computer science. The question that I am asked quite often is can you successfully enter the field of technology without a computer science degree without a STEM? If you are not a STEM major, I should say. And my answer to that is yes. But the level of critique and the level of challenges that you may face to enter the technology domain are going to be steep. And I do think, then, an added layer of complexity is the fact whether you identify as a woman, whether you identify as a person of color, all of these attributes layers on top of one another, and they start to create ceilings. If we go back to that, that visual of a glass ceiling, the glass starts to get thicker as you layer on the attributes. So are you ready? STEM major. Do you have any expertise within a STEM field or stem job? Are you a person who identifies as a black indigenous person of color? Are you someone who identifies as a woman? In every turn? If you answer yes, the glass gets thicker. And so the question that we have is, it’s very obvious and it has been communicated so much that there is a legacy of under-representation and technology amongst both women and minorities. And the question we always have is, how do we get past that? And to your question, the things that I have personally faced were very similar to a lot of the circumstances and situations that I’ve heard, amongst other women and minorities and technology, everything from establishing your credibility, in the space, amongst especially as a woman or a person of color amongst a predominantly male-oriented, predominantly white male-oriented space. How do you establish credibility? How do you build a team that you can successfully lead that respects you and respects your level of expertise? And I think the answer to all of that is because there’s always a how do you do this? Right? How do you accomplish this? How do you successfully navigate this barrier? The answer really is about ensuring that the culture within the firms that we typically identify across the board as a technology firm, or a firm that heavily leans on technology, we have to truly hold those firms accountable at the highest levels, meaning how are you creating a culture of diversity and inclusion within and even more importantly, it is the internal workforce and the individuals who are different identify as black indigenous persons of color or women, do they feel the efforts at their level? And I think that is absolutely critical. If because there are so many initiatives and we hear about this day in and day out all the Fortune 250s and Fortune 100, who are bringing on Chief Diversity and Inclusion officers who are dedicated to millions of dollars, I’ve even heard billions at some point towards diversity and inclusion initiatives. But the challenge is, that’s at a very high level, establishing the results that you’d like to see as a firm. The bigger question is, how are you implementing that within the firm? And are the efforts that you are creating are you successfully retaining your minority and your women who are represented in the firm or is it more of a good on paper. It looks good when you present it to the press. And I think there is a big disconnect there. There’s been a lot of talk of the performance of inclusion, which is, you know, you have a huge splashy announcement for the Chief Diversity Officer, you have a great press release and roll out of all the incredible initiatives that you’d like to bring on and those are great. But if the nuance of the effort isn’t received, and truly felt by the internal employees who identify within the demographics that you’re attempting to reach, then all it really does is become more okay, is it performative at that point, and my goal, even within my teams, it’s too it’s to really build a team, a diverse and inclusive team that yields better products and solutions. But more importantly, also yields better experiences for the team members. And I think that is the key point. And I do believe that we may not be delivering on that, within Fortune 100 companies as much as we’d like to admit. And in my experience, I’ve been in several companies where we’ve had great diversity and inclusion initiatives. However, at my level, whether it was as an Asset Management intern, or as a solutions engineer, I didn’t feel the impact of those efforts. Because I was sitting in a position where I was surrounded primarily by men. I was not surrounded by a lot of mentors. There weren’t really spaces where I could be open about the challenges that I faced as a minority woman attempting to rise up in the ranks of technology. And I think that’s where it really becomes interesting because then the bigger question is, okay, what do we do at the individual level, what do we do as technologists, as senior leaders to ensure that those high-level initiatives are successfully being communicated and actioned at an individual level, to a point that we can see a dramatic shift not only in the environment, the internal environment where we are working, but also a dramatic shift in attrition, and really looking at who is leaving, and more importantly, why are they leaving? So that’s how I think of it as it’s really more so about driving an individual feeling of diversity and inclusion that then permeates throughout the firm. So that anyone who falls within that demographic feels the effort is truly being realized on it on a day to day basis.

Holly Shannon 

You know, Sidney, there’s, there’s a few things that I want to unpack here. It’s really sad when you hear a company trying to do this, but they’re doing it for optics, and then they may choose one person as a token and not a full team because they think that’s good enough. So I’m curious you know, I know you’re making steps where you are, but what does a diverse team truly look like? Because obviously, we need more balance right. And when we say diversity, who is included in that category, because, like you were saying, persons of color, female, probably age needs to be taken into account there. So I’d love to get your input on this. And then you also touched on women leaving the technology sector because they’re not getting the support that they need. So what do you think we could do there?

Sydney Prescott 

Yes, absolutely. In terms of the diverse team, what does that look like? It’s a very integrated team, where we are not only looking at exactly as you pointed out, areas of expertise, level of expertise, right, whether it’s one year, two years, 10 years, 20 years in technology. We are also looking at persons of color. We’re also looking at women, we’re really looking at the underrepresented demographics which primarily are women and persons of color and technology, but then we are also giving credence to whether or not we have a diversity of age. And specifically, we look at that less in terms of age and more so in terms of experience, right, so we’re looking at how what is that? That arc of expertise that we have within the team. And what I absolutely strive for is a very equal mix. So I enjoy having a team that has some interns who are just beginning in their career, starting to dive in and are very curious about different areas of technology. I also enjoy having individuals who are out of college who have majored in a STEM field, subject and are ready to enter the workforce and this is their chosen career and starting them out. And they’re kind of their first professional job. So I always incorporate a few individuals from that area. And then I have my middle of the ground expertise and then seeing senior expertise, which is typically I would say, like 15 years or more. In the middle of the ground, I’d say about five to 10 years of expertise is in the middle, middle ground expertise. But the blend of all of those together is what, when I have seen a team truly shines, and why is because you have such a wide breadth of whether it’s life experience, career experience, nuance from different industries, all flowing together. And then also you have a great rapport in terms of the knowledge sharing that is created and maintained, again, amongst the team. So you have a really wide range of from your intern who is just learning the ropes, may not even actually have a great gauge of professional demeanor and things of that nature. So they’re constantly learning, learning, learning soaking up like a sponge. And you have your more experienced team members who are driving that level of expertise, that level of experience. And that level of nuance that you can only get the more years that you establish within a career just by working through their daily duties. And by walking through the assessment of a project, the assessment of quarterly objectives, and having your interns in the room and your early-stage professionals in the room. There’s such great feedback that you get from that, the house and the wise and it turns into this really wonderful dynamic amongst the team, where you even have the individuals who are extremely experienced beginning to learn more just from the curiosity and the questions that they’re getting from the interns and from the young professionals. So I think that that mix is wonderful. And the teams that I have both been a part of, and, and I wasn’t leading the team, I was more just a team member, as well as the teams that I now lead that I create with that almost diversity of I would say, experience and mind. Those are the teams that I reflect back and feel that I had the most enjoyable time on the team. I feel that the team actually delivered and I have metrics to show that those teams were delivering at a much higher rate and a much higher level of quality than other teams that I was on where they were not. We did not include that. That arc of expertise ranging from again from the college intern all the way up to the senior Engineering professional. So I think that’s one thing I would say is to create a team with that type of diversity in mind. Because we pivot directly to the more so like gender diversity, ethnic diversity. And we should also consider the diversity of expertise as a component of that. That ideal team dynamic that we want to create.

Paul Jones 

There’s been a lot of studies on paired programming when it comes to development, and the success of putting together a senior developer and a junior developer, working on a project and working in tandem on the code. You get a lot of creativity involved, and you get a lot of training experience accomplished over that time period. And as I was thinking about what you’re talking about, and also this paired programming, it seems that what would be very helpful when it comes to combining all these different experiences and backgrounds is creating FIKA. Last time you came on the podcast, you talked about a FIKA, which was a Spotify tradition of going and getting coffee with somebody. Being able to pair people together if you have a diverse team, taking a paired programming approach, pairing people together, and inviting them to go get a FIKA just to create empathy and understanding and appreciation of background experience can go a really long way. Would that approach have been really helpful to you, as you know, you’re kind of this person that has broken through very thick glass, would things like that have been really helpful for you to integrate?

Sydney Prescott 

Absolutely. I recall early on in my technology career, I lacked that, I would say that would be what I consider as a peer group within a certain organization. And I really lacked a sense of belonging in the organization as a result. And I do think there’s there is a lot of credit that I can give to the forums such as a FIKA, the forums where you really get to find out a little bit more about your team members, and the way that they think the way they operate the way that they approach projects, but it also, again, brings in that human element, which I think is absolutely critical, when we begin to talk through what does a diverse team and what does a diverse workplace look like? It’s about really bringing back the commonalities that we share. As technologists and even bigger as human beings, and we quite often see in the larger companies, there was a bit of a, stripping away of that. I would call it a sense of community because that sense of community was seen as inefficient to the bottom line into deliverables. And now it’s really interesting. I’ve seen quite a shift. And I do think the shift has a lot to do with the technology sector and the uniqueness that we have to have very, a little bit more dynamic, a little bit more engaging and fun workplaces. I think that’s crept into a lot of other industries as well. But I’ve seen a shift in the belief that a dynamic and engaged human-centric workplace is seen as something that is inefficient. We saw a lot of stripping away of that, especially, I would say in the all the way up to probably the early 2000s. And we started to see that decrease as companies are bringing in everything from Yogi’s who are teaching you yoga, to meditation, to Apple, Spotify. And all of that is really meant to tie us together as we work in this specific company. But more importantly, we are human and to see the nuances and the creativity and the way that we can all bond together. It creates a dynamic where you do end up with a company that is producing at a much higher level, a higher rate of satisfaction amongst the employees which relates to lower attrition, which relates to lower cost for the firm. To onboard candidates, hire candidates, it takes a lot of resources to go through the candidate process from a firm perspective. And the more attrition you have, the less reasonable that investment per candidate makes sense. So I think when we look at the future, and we say what’s really going to keep individuals in a firm and what is really going to have everyone operating at the highest levels, I do think that that workforce looks a lot more human in its approach to peer interactions, a lot more organic in its approach to interactions amongst employees, and ideally a lot more diverse. Again, ranging from an area of expertise, career path, and then going down, of course, the gender and ethnic diversity, but putting all of that together and then saying, okay, now we have the ideal workforce, which in turn creates all of these amazing ideal teams that are sitting within that workforce.

Holly Shannon 

I don’t disagree, I think it’s really important to look at the human side of it. And I think companies are coming around to seeing that and perhaps COVID and seeing people live their real lives is sort of forcing that hand a little bit. But what I really loved is you were talking about your team, and how you have built it up in such a way that your diversity includes a level of expertise including minorities, you had said persons of color and female and so forth, and I love that you, you did this. And it was part of the dynamic for you to create a funnel a pipeline for leadership if I understood that correctly. And so I want to ask the hard question in that, why aren’t there more women in the C suite technology companies? Why can’t they deploy this technique that has obviously worked successfully for you? Because you’ve had this great team? Like, how do we make this happen? So that we could get more females in these leadership roles and thin out the glass ceiling? And have this like, what would you do? How would you make that happen? Like if you were, how could you get yourself to the head of that fortune 50 company and how can you spread that word and make that happen if you were in that role?

Sydney Prescott 

Oh, absolutely. So that’s a great question. So it starts, it’s absolutely a journey. And I believe that the journey starts at the academic level. So it starts with encouraging more women, more females to engage in STEM courses early on in their college career. And there’s been quite a few empirical studies that have shown that the way that intro to computer science courses is structured are alienating women from registering for the course or alienating women where that is the only intro to a computer that’s the only stem course that they take before they pursue different major or different classes. And there’s been quite a few studies as well, just even in terms of the That The courses are named, which is really interesting that the female enrollees can outnumber the males in an intro to computer science class if the course is titled differently. And that’s extremely fascinating to me. So I believe it starts with understanding the ways we’ve incorporated bias into so many different aspects of just day to day life, then that includes academia, and that includes the workforce. And those two, I believe, are not mutually exclusive, but they have been treated somewhat as if they’re mutually exclusive. So all of the male-dominated industries tend to really use this very hyper-masculine language that doesn’t really appeal to women. So it’s a compounding effect. Again, that picture of the glass. It just builds and builds. If you think of a woman’s trajectory from high school, to college to the workforce, the layers build as she goes along to alienate her from the pursuit of a career in STEM. And so the first part starts with, can we establish a different cadence in academia? Can we look at the way that we’re actually structuring the courses that are within the STEM majors? Can we take a very deep look at who is registering for the courses? Starting out at the intro level? And even more importantly, are those same? Are those individuals within those same demographics? Are they continuing to pursue a stem major after the intro course? And what we see today is that when you look at women and you look at the courses that they start out within college versus what they ended up, earning a degree in, it’s very different. Most of the women do not end up with a STEM major, they don’t end up pursuing that in the long run. And my question would be, how do we change that? I think a lot of the dynamics if you go even further back, start even at the middle school high school level, and that’s just in terms of resources, who has access to resources, and that’s everything from do you have a computer in your home. And there are studies that have shown that you know, I think it said around two-thirds of white students have computers in their homes and only half of black and Hispanic students have computers in their homes. And that resonates because the things that the students become accustomed to, outside of the classroom, access to computers, that really matters. If you have a computer at your disposal at home. You have the ability to leverage that computer to play around on that computer to research to get creative, and to test out a class, maybe a webinar on coding. Whereas if you don’t have access to a computer at home, you may be able to do that on campus, but your time is going to be a lot more limited. So it’s looking at, again, that journey, that trajectory of where do we start? Where do we start pushing the inclusivity? And I believe it starts at the classroom level, it rolls into how are we engaging with women who are staying on board with STEM careers? How are we engaging them and creating a workforce pipeline? Because that’s absolutely essential. We obviously can’t have women sitting in the C suite of a technology firm, if they’ve never hired at the technology company, so the first question is, how do we get this pipeline from academia to the workforce. And the second piece of that is once we establish that pipeline, and we say, we have a way to, to mentor to guide to promote STEM careers in the academic environment. And we have a way to successfully promote these students over to the fortune five hundreds of the world. The next question becomes, okay, now that we have them, and they’re hired at a firm, how do we keep them engaged? And how do we keep them again, back to the attrition, how to keep them from leaving the firm, and we see a large gap of women who enter a STEM field and then who quickly leave I think, within the first five years, and that really comes down to exactly what we discussed early on, which is the workforce environment. If the workforce environment at the individual level does not feel inclusive and does not feel diverse, going back to you know, whether it’s the diversity of gender, ethnicity, etc, then that is where you have the disconnect. And that is where you have individuals saying, This isn’t worth it. I don’t see myself being promoted up to the C suite. Because I, you know, I’m not hurting meetings, being taken seriously. Being able to receive a very big deal is just being able to amplify your presence in a certain team. And that is really big. And if you don’t have leaders who are willing to give you that platform, as a technologist to amplify your efforts, amplify your voice. It’s very hard to receive that promotion to continue up the ladder and that is whereas leaders, we have to Take responsibility. And we have to say, whose voices are Am I amplifying in my day to day efforts? And are those the right voices to amplify? And I don’t think that we do enough of that. Because when we see who is amplified and who is promoted, there is absolutely a relationship there. The more that senior leadership knows about your efforts, your wins, the way that you think the way that you drive your team, the more likely they are to say, Oh, great, I can see you in a position taking on more responsibility, having more of an of an impact to the overall guidance of the firm. And we as leaders have to look at if I’m not amplifying the right voices, how do I do that? Because my amplification does relate to who gets promoted, who is seen as a leader within any given organization or from And we have to take accountability, I believe as leaders in terms of our role and that pipeline and our role in almost subtly pushing individuals into the upper echelons of leadership.

Holly Shannon 

We’re at a tipping point I think we’re all seeing across social media channels. I feel like we’re at a ringside seat watching companies, as I like to say belly up to the bar and finally doing what they should have been doing a long time ago. How do we keep that happening? Like how do we keep that momentum so that it’s not temporary? I mean, I do agree with you if we set the stage when they’re very young with school, and we try and you know, make it so that kids can get computers and we change language and I don’t disagree. With you, I think that 100% we have to do that. But right now, there are people in the pipeline that have a great experience, you know, they’re worthy of the positions they should have gotten all along. And I feel like we’re seeing that all over, you know, LinkedIn, the news everywhere, you know, you look how to do we keep that like how do we keep these people getting these C suite positions and like keep that going not just like the one, the one and done type of thing like for optics.

Sydney Prescott 

Yes. And that that goes back to that is the subject of the day, which is the performance of diversity, the performance of diversity and inclusion at a firm, so promoting those efforts externally, but then the results in terms of employee satisfaction and attrition are not there when you look at them and I think there are a few different ways we can do that, that we can maintain a sense of responsibility is the best way to put it. In terms of senior leadership, the first one really is attrition. I think that is absolutely critical. Why do we have individuals leaving firms who are predominantly black or indigenous persons of color? Why do we have women leaving firms and their needs, there really needs to be an onus on reviewing that. formulating guidelines based on data around that when there are a lot of firms who are doing this but there’s definitely not enough. And then looking at creating and hiring. There are a lot of attrition coaches, and a lot of companies that are starting to think around building internal databases, specifically dedicated to being more proactive. about identifying who is at risk to leave the company and doing a lot of analytics around why, and then going in and mentoring and coaching and creating that environment that doesn’t exist, which is leading up to the individual basically leaving that firm or at work at even worse, leaving technology as a whole. So I think looking at metrics around why we have such high levels of attrition in specific immigrants within specific demographics. I also think it’s about accountability at a senior leadership level, specific to attrition because it’s very easy to say, oh, we’re doing XYZ in relation to diversity and inclusion. Look, we’re announcing this, you know, head of this particular initiative. It’s a lot harder to say we initially had X number of employees within the specific demographics who were leaving. And we have dramatically changed that, that we’ve shifted that dynamic to where we have, you know, y amount of individuals from specific demographics, who are now not only are they not leaving, but they’re also advancing into positions of leadership. And that’s even another level which is holding at the highest levels, the C suite, holding the C suite accountable for the number of employees in senior leadership positions, who are underrepresented minorities. And this is an area where I absolutely think that there is a lot of work to be done. We need to take a look at C suite and below in each company and have them ask the hard questions. Why? Why are there no women in the C suite? Why is there not a single underrepresented minority in the C suite in this company? And if the answer is, oh, we didn’t, we didn’t think about it. Oh, we never, you know, we’ve never asked that question. It’s just the most qualified. Those are not the right answers, right. Do we have to dig into where do the candidates come from for the C suite positions? Are they primarily coming from internal promotions? If so, let’s scrutinize that process. If they are primarily coming from external resources and services, where we’re basically scrutinizing who we should bring into the company, and then we are bringing them in and they are basically advancing, we need to look at that pipeline. Where are we? How are we vetting the external candidates for the C suite? And are we being honest with ourselves that we are in Ensuring that everyone who is potentially qualified is given a fair chance, rather than we assume? When we look at those roles that, oh, everyone was given a fair chance, and these were the best individuals for the job. But that is absolutely not the case in a lot of different scenarios. And to your point, Holly, when we look at who is in the firm today, we absolutely should be looking at who is in the firm today, and we should look at okay, we have this body of underrepresented minorities who, you know, made it through the hurdles and were able to not only successfully complete their academic career, they were also successful at obtaining a job here. Now, our goal as leaders is to say, how do we keep those employees engaged? How do we keep inspiring them to reach higher and higher and turn off their passions and the pursuit of maturing out their career? And also are we offering enough insights to that group of diverse individuals to ensure that they understand what’s possible for them? Because I think that’s a completely different subject, which is, we often float the idea of certain positions to specific individuals. And more often than not, we are floating the idea of an SVP or C suite officer, we’re not floating those ideas to women, we’re not floating those ideas to minorities. And that’s the change that we need. We need the change of thinking through who is here and how can we empower them to reach as high as they want to reach within this company to achieve their career goals and aspirations, and quite often, you have to take a long, hard look at what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, why you’re doing it as a leadership team, before all of that country before you can get the real answers to establish a real cadence for change.

Paul Jones 

I love what you’re saying Sydney. And I think it goes back to that old saying of it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And if you’re in a community of who you know, is mostly not diverse people, then focus on building that community so that next time you have an opening or next time that there’s an opportunity, you have plugged yourself into a group of people that are diverse that you can call upon, and bring those people into those conversations that you’re referring to.

Sydney Prescott 

Yes, absolutely. It’s about expanding. We need to do a better job as leaders in technology, of understanding, identifying and accepting our biases, and then committed we have to do a better job of committing to doing the work, to break down those biases, and to create a new perspective and a new way of thinking, which is more inclusive. And we are all it’s not to say that this is a bit of a blame game. We all have biases, everyone does. But the true onus from a leadership perspective is admitting that you have biases and ensuring that to the best of your ability. You do not have any sort of bias that impedes the abilities of others around you to succeed at their goal. And ambitions.

Holly Shannon 

I agree I, you know, I really love it. I love that you provide a tool. It’s a thought I hadn’t given before. You know, you were saying that there’s a lot of people that are placed in positions for DEI. And the attrition initiative seems like a really interesting tool to implement to have somebody who works alongside DEI to help people mature their careers, and to stay on board, right? Like, why aren’t they staying? Does that part fascinate me? Like if we finally get people there, that isn’t molded, if you will, like they are diversity, but getting them to stay. I really like your idea of the attrition initiatives.

Sydney Prescott 

Yes, definitely. And it’s all about the environment. I think that when we look at the tech environments. I can recall many times where I felt isolated. And I felt as if it were an uphill battle. Being a woman and a minority, who was aspiring to become a senior leader in technology. I was told quite often that I didn’t have the right experience. I was told that you know, oh, traditionally people don’t come from your background. And that’s code, right? So there’s a microaggression there. There’s a lot of different kinds of secret inside talk that goes on. Because everyone knows that nobody wants to get reported to HR. So there they maneuver around, you know, blatantly saying things to you that are sexist or racist. But there were many times when I first started out in my career, it felt very exclusionary, it felt very lonely. And I’ve had other peers who have said, who are female who have said the same thing, who have actually left technology because they felt so isolated within their role that it was just, it was over, it became overwhelming. And they said I don’t want to do this anymore. So that’s what we need to combat. There should never come a time where a woman where a minority, who is skilled and passionate about a career in technology should feel that the environment that they are in, creates such a dynamic where they no longer where their passion for the field doesn’t even matter. I think that’s really sad if we continue to think that is acceptable. I think it’s absolutely not acceptable if we have individuals who are passionate, engaged, excited, experienced at being a technologist we should do as leaders, we should do our absolute best to encourage them and even further cultivate an environment that is inclusive, and that assists that individual with just building intensifying their passion for technology. If we look at the technology sector, and we have women and minorities who are saying that being in a role in a company diminishes their passion, I think that is a huge loss to the technology sector as a whole. Because what could I think of what those individuals could have contributed, and what they were, what they ended up contributing compared to what they could have contributed, had they had, they felt that the environment was inclusive and inclusive and welcoming. And my hope is that we pivot that narrative so that we have an environment where everyone feels inspired. Everyone feels excited to go to work, everyone feels like they can contribute to the team and in some form or fashion. And that they, if they want to pursue the higher echelons of leadership, that there is a clear path there. And that there are clear resources and mentors who can help guide them to reach those goals.

Holly Shannon 

I think it’s so important to have the diversity in designing anything because I feel like it’s more user friendly to anybody, whether it’s technology, if it’s a product, no matter what it is, you know, you’ve tapped into so many great things on this podcast and, you know, I feel like I might be remiss if I don’t ask you. Is there anything? I’m not asking you, I want to make sure we put this all on the table.

Sydney Prescott 

I think there’s one thing I would also say, which is, we need to end from a society perspective. I believe that we are seriously lacking visibility in terms of promoting female role models and STEM. I always laugh about this, but you can look at Hollywood as an example. It’s a great example of just what is accepted as a potential role in society. And whenever you see a movie, and you see someone who’s a computer science nerd, or you see someone who’s a hacker, what does that person usually look like?

Holly Shannon 

A young man in his 30s

Sydney Prescott 

Notice, you know exactly, that’s this, like, what is the stereotype of the computer geek or the hacker, right? It’s a young, white male like that. That is you know, that’s what everyone thinks of when they even think of you when they say like technology, or even when you say like Silicon Valley, what do you think of? Do you think of, you know, the Mark Zuckerberg of the world? And that’s what we need to change. We need to change the visibility and the focus that we have on who can be in STEM because I don’t think that we give enough credence to the subliminal messages that we receive as women and minorities about fields that we quote-unquote can achieve in our fields that we should be in and that I would love to see a pivot there. Can we start This even goes down to even Hollywood, can we start promoting the broadcasting of the message that women that minorities can be seen as the computer geek, the hacker, I think that would go a long way to inspire people to really change that, that again, that underlying narrative that this is who belongs in this field, we need to change that narrative. And that will go a long way to start pivoting the rest of the scenario around academia, around the workforce, we need to change what when we say technologist, who do we think of as a technologist when we say someone is in a STEM field? Who are we thinking of in our minds? And can we fundamentally change who we think is capable? That’s a great way to put it, who can we fundamentally change who we think is capable of succeeding and stem? And if we can do That and it’s at its base. I think everything else once we start stacking on mentorship, accountability, and leadership, that establishment of a workforce pipeline, offering hands-on STEM exercises to kids that put all of that together. And that’s when you start changing the true narrative of what it means to be an underrepresented minority in tech. And my dream would be that one day we no longer say that anyone is an underrepresented minority in tech because we have truly reached full diversity of the workforce in the tech field.

Holly Shannon 

Sydney this is like a masterclass, I can’t thank you enough. This is awesome. This is really great. And I love that you really gave some actionable ideas all along the pipeline from grade school on up. This was great I can’t thank you enough for coming and really diving deep on this.

Paul Jones 

Thank you so much Sydney for coming on the show and lending some of your own experience and talking to us from the other side. Congrats on being able to inspire other people and on your own career journey.

Sydney Prescott 

Thank you so much. I am always it’s always a pleasure to sit down Paul with you and Holly and just share these thoughts on how we can continue to improve the tech industry and continue to inspire other other individuals to to pursue a career in technology and and truly rethink what it means to be an individual working at a leadership position in Corporate America.

Holly Shannon 

Well, this particular podcast should be like onboarding for every HR company. This is great, Cindy, I really can’t thank you enough. I know that these are not easy topics to discuss. But you know, you’ve really done so much in the industry. And so it’s really nice to be talking with somebody who’s on the inside and who has a lot of experience and obviously is a person of color and female. So you really bring to the table, something special here. So thank you for that.

Sydney Prescott 

Absolutely. It’s my pleasure.