Throughout March and in the run-up to Tokyo 2020, the IOC is sharing the journeys of inspirational women and men who are dedicated to combating gender inequality and promoting female representation in leadership roles. Here, we speak to Denise Reed Lamoreaux, the Global Chief Diversity Officer for Worldwide Olympic Partner (TOP) Atos.
Reed Lamoreaux joined information technology giant Atos in 2015 as a project leader and, within two years, had been promoted to the role of North American Operations Diversity Officer. She became the company’s Global Chief Diversity Officer in early 2018, and is now responsible for spearheading Atos’s drive for gender inclusivity worldwide. Her Future Women Leaders programme is designed to support and encourage women to move into senior Atos roles; and since the start of 2020, the percentage of female executives at the company has risen from 13 to 30.
Please tell us about your career to date and what has inspired your journey.
“My inspiration comes from my family. That’s largely because I found myself as a single mother to two teenage children, and I needed to be able to provide for my family as well as serve as a role model and demonstrate a work ethic. I credit them with the focus I had on making sure they had the opportunities to grow up and be successful for themselves. That was my motivation and what drove me to where I am.
“I started my career as a high school English and history teacher. After having children and returning to the workplace, it was a time when corporate training really became a career path, and I transferred my teaching skills over to the corporate space. I then had the opportunity to step into a marketing and communications role and worked with the National Football League, because the company I was employed by sponsored the Buffalo Bills training camp. I wrote all the marketing material for the team for a couple of years before returning to the world of learning and development as the manager of a global group of trainers of service desk agents.
“That’s when I came to Atos six years ago. The company was getting serious about putting somebody in a role in the diversity space and, because I had been involved in setting up a women’s group in my previous job, the Chief Financial Officer reached out to me and asked me to create the role. That was for North America for the next 11 months, very quickly establishing a baseline programme and winning an external award within the first six months. I was then asked to take the concept and the programme to a global scale, and I’ve been in that role ever since.”
Join us in wishing Denise Reed Lamoreaux - @Atos’ Head of #Diversity and #Inclusion - CONGRATULATIONS for making it as a winner at the @womeninitawards. She was up in the Diversity Initiative of the Year category ! More info about her engagement here: https://t.co/qYOqgOrFsI pic.twitter.com/EgOOZRdXoe— Atos (@Atos) April 2, 2019
The President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Japan’s Olympics Minister and the Tokyo Governor are all women. How significant is this in terms of promoting gender equality?
“It’s really, really important, more now than ever. Women make up 50 per cent of the world’s population and yet for many years have not made it to those high-level, high-profile roles for a variety of reasons. Now that we’re coming out of the pandemic and people feel they need something to look forward to and aspire to, I think it’s more important than ever that we have this opportunity to see women in these very senior leadership roles.
“It gives us a real look at what society looks like. Putting more and more focus on equity is exactly what we need to be doing. Leadership that better reflects wider society leads to a better approach to problem-solving and to being creative and innovative. Having these role models to follow and look up to is going to be a wonderful message of equality, unity and survival from the whole pandemic.”
A historic 49 per cent of athletes at Tokyo 2020 will be women, and every competing country will have a male and female flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony for the first time. What message do you feel this sends?
“The world is gender-balanced and I really feel that the Games, in moving towards men and women carrying the flag, is celebrating that. The Opening Ceremony brings forward all these different emotions – national pride, the spirit of camaraderie and the excitement over the competitive aspect of the Games. When people see the genders succeeding together, it becomes ingrained in people that this is the way to act and react.
“When you think about the Olympic Games as a symbol, it’s not only about excellence in sport; it’s also about equal opportunities for people to make a name for themselves and be recognised for their efforts. The joint flagbearers set out the standard, right from the beginning, that the Games are going to be equitable, inclusive, respectful and ethical.”
What is the role of men in the journey to greater gender equality?
“The role of men, as well as all genders, is really important. I use a term called ‘techquity’ – a mashing together of technology and equity because we’re a tech company – which is about striving for a better balance. The male and female perspectives are equally important, to listen and learn from one another, innovate together and come up with solutions that are going to be best in class. This can be achieved only if those equitable opportunities exist, and men are part of the way to drive it forward.”
How has Atos helped further women’s careers within the company?
“We had a mentoring programme at Atos that we started last year to advance our senior-level women to executive-level roles. Most of the existing people in the executive roles were men, so they were the mentors for these women and were learning, sometimes for the first time, some of the unique situations that women face trying to balance their personal and professional lives.
“It was a mutually beneficial relationship, and we all learned from one another. It drove home to the men the opportunities they can better help women move into because they understand, champion, respect and support them.”
Parity.org recognised Atos as one of the top 35 companies to advance women in 2020. How did you achieve this accolade?
“In 2018, we really put this focus on the gender equality equation. At that time, I signed Parity.org’s charter to support women’s advancement into executive roles. Parity.org was very new at the time and our programme, which we called ‘Women Who Succeed’, was brand new. It had many prongs, identifying the women for executive roles, and making sure they were skilled, prepared and ready to step into those roles when they became available. But our work is not done, and we still want to be leaders in the tech space as far as employing women is concerned. Right now, we’re at industry par, but that’s not enough.”