Blog Extreme Team

Extreme Increases Female Employees By 30% In 3 Years and We’re Not Stopping

Sarah Nesland Head of Enterprise Sales Published 4 Mar 2021

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women across the globe and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. This year, the theme is #ChooseToChallenge – which brings light to gender bias and unequal treatment women have faced in the workplace and beyond.

At Extreme, we are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. Our teams and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) work to cultivate an atmosphere where all employees thrive because of their differences, not despite them.

Why does gender diversity matter?  We believe it’s a key area to focus on because ethically being an inclusive company is ethically the right thing to do, and of course, it makes logical sense that a diverse and inclusive employee base with a wide range of approaches and perspectives would be more competitive in a global economy.  As luck would have it, there is also a statistically significant correlation between greater levels of diversity and a greater likelihood (21%+) to outperform relevant industry peer groups on a very key financial metric, profitability.

Our first ERG was our Women’s Leadership Council. As the leader of the Women’s Leadership Council, I am excited to share more about the initiatives we’re working on.

When we launched our Women’s Leadership Council three years ago, the number of women at Extreme Networks was around 18%. This isn’t an uncommon percentage in technology companies, but we set our sights on specific goals to increase the number of women at Extreme. To attract and retain female employees, the Women’s Leadership Council worked with the executive team and HR to implement female-friendly policies, strong professional development opportunities, on-the-job leadership training, and a formal mentorship program. I’m proud to share that in less than three years, we are nearing 25% – a 30% increase overall. 

Another goal is to increase the number of women in leadership roles within the company. According to McKinsey & Company, men are 3x more likely to pursue a leadership role than women due to the invisible barrier on the corporate ladder called the “broken rung.” The broken rung phenomenon describes the biggest obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership as the first step up to manager. To combat this challenge, our Women’s Leadership Council is rolling out mentorship and advancement programs to make sure our women feel empowered to enter leadership roles with the confidence and support system they need to succeed. 75% of our functional areas have already seen an increase of women in leadership roles. 

Thanks to focused initiatives around engagement, empowerment, and enrichment, the Women’s Leadership Council is able to set, work towards, and accomplish our goals. Below is a deeper dive into our initiatives.

Engagement Initiatives

  • Ambassador program – During the recruitment process, we make sure that any female applicant interviewing with us meets with at least one female employee as part of the interview process.
  • Welcome Wagon – When a new female employee is onboarded, the Women’s Leadership Council proactively outreaches to the new hire to ensure they know there is a community of fellow female employees they can reach out to and rely on.
  • Women’s Leadership Council Presents series – We bring in outside speakers once a month to talk about a wide variety of topics impacting women’s success in the workplace, such as men championing women, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and using your voice.

Empowerment Initiatives

  • Mentorship program – We connect employees who want to be mentored with senior leaders. Participants meet on a regular basis and discuss balancing work-life needs and how to succeed in their roles. Approximately 150 employees are participating formally and another 300 informally. We’ve shared our recipe for success with other ERGs, and they are now rolling out similar programs.
  • Purple Bag series – Every six weeks the Women’s Leadership Council, as well as pairs of mentors and mentees, meet with Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, a relationship, emotional intelligence, and communication expert, to tackle tough topics in this development program. Our last topic was on delegation, how to be better at delegating, and why delegation as a skill is so important.

Enrichment Initiatives

  • Advancement program – Along with HR, the Women’s Leadership Council is mapping out career paths to help female employees understand the skills required for success in a current role as well as the skills they need to cultivate in order to advance and thrive in higher-level leadership roles.
  • Leadership Track – The Women’s Leadership Council, in conjunction with Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, developed a 2-day leadership workshop focused on how to lead through adversity.  This workshop shares best practices and specific tactics that can be used to effectively lead while in crisis situations.  One of my favorite quotes by Denis Waitley is “Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but from playing a poor hand well.”

Hats off to our leadership team for making diversity and inclusion as well as gender parity a priority at Extreme Networks. Without their genuine support in these initiatives, our programs would not be successful.

This International Women’s Day, I hope you take the time to both celebrate the accomplishments of women around the globe as well as give gratitude for those specific women that laid a foundation down that shaped your walk into the person that you have become.  Being a part of a diverse community brings depth to our culture and depth to our soul.  It’s a much more powerful way of being. Together we really can climb steep mountains and discover greener pastures. 

There has never been a better time to be at Extreme Networks!  If you’re interested in joining us, I encourage you to visit our careers page and learn more about our diversity and inclusion initiatives. Please stay tuned for more updates from Extreme’s Women’s Leadership Council, Extreme’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, and the many more Employee Resource Groups at Extreme.

Get the latest stories sent straight to your inbox!

Related Enterprise Stories