Article: Logitech’s Delphine Donné on how technology will champion an inclusive future of work

Leadership

Logitech’s Delphine Donné on how technology will champion an inclusive future of work

Delphine Donné shares insights on fostering gender diversity in STEM, promoting inclusivity in tech workplaces, and leveraging technology for future-ready work environments.
Logitech’s Delphine Donné on how technology will champion an inclusive future of work

Delphine Donné is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience in consumer electronics. As the VP & General Manager Business Group – Personal Workspace Solutions, Logitech, she leads one of Logitech's largest business groups, with a focus on creating sustainable and inclusive innovation. In this exclusive conversation, we tap into her expertise and experiences, unlocking insights into key HR trends, challenges, and opportunities in the tech industry and beyond.

Here are some key excerpts.

In your experience, what are the primary barriers that hinder women from pursuing careers in STEM fields, and how can organisations address these challenges effectively to foster gender diversity and inclusion?

Several interrelated barriers have hindered women from pursuing and advancing in STEM careers. A significant challenge stems from the persistence of gender stereotypes and biases that women encounter from an early age societal perceptions that technology domains are more suited for men. This can have a detrimental impact on young girls’ interests and belief in their abilities within STEM subjects. Another barrier I have seen is the challenges of work-life balance and a masculine culture in many STEM workplaces that have dissuaded some women from pursuing their interests.

These are some of the learnings we gathered from a US-based research we conducted with Ipsos two years ago called “What (and Who) is Holding Women Back in Tech?” We recently extended this research also to India. Whilst it is not yet published, we have seen similarities and differences.

For India particularly we learned that 1 in 2 women would leave computer science due to microaggressions and would join a company that supports women.

Addressing these issues requires change. It requires organisations and education to work together. They need to start early by encouraging girls’ interests and skills in STEM from a young age through outreach programmes, gender-neutral messaging, and an engaging and immersive curriculum. Providing mentorship, sponsorship, and leadership development opportunities for women at all career stages is critical for their growth. It is urgent to make them understand that technology is not solely about technical developments but involves collaborative work across various disciplines, including product management, engineering, design, legal, and marketing.

Furthermore, I believe organisations enacting policies and practices that support work-life balance and create an inclusive culture can benefit women. There is a need to increase the visibility of accomplishments that women achieve across the STEM fields to inspire the next generation as it has inspired me.  Organisations need to address this as a high priority and implement actions to cultivate an environment promising the success and empowerment of women.

As a people-first leader, you emphasise empathy, collaboration, and fostering a diverse workplace culture. Could you share some strategies or initiatives you've implemented at Logitech to promote these values and create an inclusive environment for all employees?

One key initiative has been to implement diversity and inclusivity training programmes across the organisation. These interactive sessions help raise awareness about unconscious biases, encourage open dialogue, and provide tools for building greater empathy and cross-cultural competence. By addressing biases, it helps our employees to foster more respectful and productive collaboration. Additionally, we have adapted policies that instil support for both women and men, including providing equal parental leave opportunities worldwide. This enables women to pursue their careers while balancing personal responsibilities.

Furthermore, we have also prioritised employee resource groups like our “Logi Women” that create support networks, share experiences and perspectives, and advise leadership on enhancing inclusive culture. We believe in providing our employees with a voice and venue to connect. Additionally, we have made conscious efforts to build more diverse products that help our employees in their work. A notable example was my suggestion for a vertical mouse design tailored specifically for women after realising our existing MX vertical mouse option was too large for me to use due to my petite structure. This initiated the development of the Logitech Lift Mouse, contributing to a higher representation of women engineers on that project.

We have also set specific diversity goals for each team and manager to drive greater diversity within our respective teams. For instance, in our India office, we have made progress with approximately 25% of employees now being women. 

Ultimately, driving real change requires commitment from the top. We are proud that Logitech has women in top leadership roles like Board Chair and CEO, and we have made impressive strides in diversity and inclusion over recent years.

As one of the few women executives in the tech industry, what have been some of the key challenges you've faced, and how have you overcome them? Additionally, what advice would you give to aspiring women leaders in the tech sector?

As a woman from a different background with a better understanding of marketing and business, starting a new career in a technical field was an overwhelming experience at times. However, these situations pushed me to be more present and be confident in my expertise. Soon, I realised that my focus should lie on understanding what the user experience should be and having our talented engineers focus on how to make it happen.

With time, I learned to foster a partnership with the engineers by asking the right questions to understand the implications and create a sense of co-ownership. This helped me to counterbalance being a woman in a male-dominated field without a technical background. Additionally, when interacting with suppliers or partners, I faced biases that may not have been immediately apparent. In these situations, I learned to be present, listening intently, and confidently speaking while being concise and precise. 

As a leader, I make it a priority to embrace diversity within my own team, which is now approximately 53% women. When I began my role as a general manager in 2018, only 28% of the team were women. But through efforts, we have made significant changes in promoting inclusivity and addressing biases.

As previously mentioned, I faced an issue with the MX vertical mouse as it was too large for my petite hand. So, I advocated to the team to create a more diverse product portfolio, and that led to the development of the Logitech Lift mouse. Not only did it result in a higher representation of women engineers on that product team, but also became one of our bestselling products in 2023. 

To aspiring women leaders in tech, I would emphasise that perseverance, passion and finding supportive sponsors are truly critical. It’s important to have a genuine interest in the impact you can make and the users you can serve as it will help you overcome the challenges.

It’s also important to find role models who can provide confidence, and support you in speaking up and seizing opportunities. Don’t be afraid to communicate your ambitions and interests with your manager. When I joined Logitech, I expressed my passion for the Asia market for four years until an opportunity finally came to lead an R&D department in China.

Lastly, entering the tech field as a woman requires resilience, but the ability to bring a unique perspective and create impactful innovations makes it a rewarding path.

The dynamics of work culture are evolving, especially with the rise of remote and flexible work arrangements. How do you see technology shaping the future of workspaces, collaboration, and productivity, and how can organisations ensure that these changes are inclusive and beneficial for all employees?

The rise of remote and flexible work arrangements is indeed reshaping the dynamics of work culture, driven by advancements in technology. Communication and collaboration technologies like video conferencing, virtual whiteboards, and cloud-based document-sharing platforms will become increasingly essential for allowing seamless remote teamwork.

A significant challenge that we have observed is maintaining a sense of inclusivity during hybrid meetings, where few participants may be present in person while others join remotely. To address this, we developed innovative solutions such as Logitech Scribe, a 360-degree camera that can be placed on the table, providing remote attendees with a comprehensive view of the entire room, thereby allowing their active engagement in discussions.

Moreover, it is crucial to prioritise the comfort of remote work setups, especially for women who may require smaller keyboards and mice to prevent discomfort. Also, not all employees have access to ideal home office setups or reliable internet connectivity. Therefore, it is essential to ensure they are equipped with the necessary tools and resources to work productively for their well-being and overall productivity. They should invest in solutions like portable video equipment, and meeting rooms that are aimed at fostering inclusivity in remote collaboration. Similarly, gathering regular employee feedback is crucial to identify and address any pain points or challenges that may arise.

Lastly, by leveraging technology as an enabler of inclusivity, diversity, and work-life balance, organisations can create future-ready workplaces.

Looking ahead, what excites you the most about the future of work and the role that technology will play in shaping work environments and opportunities? Any advice that you would like to share with HR leaders to make the most out of these opportunities? 

I’m excited about the potential for technology to reshape the future of work in empowering and inclusive ways. The ability to collaborate seamlessly from anywhere is a game changer as it allows to access talent, opportunities and more, regardless of location and demographics.

I believe that the transformation we see in ways of working can serve as a great accelerator for diversity, equity and inclusion. Flexibility and accessibility are key to including more women into the workforce and this is what this transformation is enabling. 

Patience is however key, especially in the recruitment process. It's essential to ensure equal opportunities for all candidates and to encourage our recruiters and managers to maintain a diverse pool of candidates, including both men and women. Furthermore, it's important to demonstrate the progress made by major tech companies in this area, showing that patience and perseverance in recruiting more diverse candidates can lead to the development of a more inclusive workforce. Providing internal training, mentorship, and sponsorship opportunities is also vital for nurturing talent. 

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Topics: Leadership, Diversity, Technology, #HRCommunity, #HRTech

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