IT Celebrates Women

Cover photo for article 'IT Celebrates Women'

American Airlines has always celebrated the diversity of its team members. Our IT department has weaved these values within our organizational culture. As March approached, we saw an opportunity to expand upon celebrating diversity with an emphasis on International Women’s Month. It started as an organic thought around taking an in-person celebration on International Women’s Day and pivoting it to a virtual effort. We decided the usual calendar based, one-time meeting would not suffice. We believe women in tech are vastly important to the future of information technology and wanted to do more to highlight this workgroup. We came up with a new Slack channel-based platform we dubbed, #IT-Elevate-Women. This channel would be the sounding board for an organic conversation highlighting, celebrating, and engaging our women in technology.

The idea of this channel was to be an open forum for all team members to engage in a conversation around women. The mission formed for this Slack channel was to:

  • Engage men and women on women issues.
  • Empower each other.
  • Share stories, network.
  • Be a safe place to talk about issues.

To kick off the launch of this channel we invited Maya Leibman, our CIO, to extend an open invite to all of IT to hop into this new channel. We wanted it to be a natural and organic place for conversations. In the inaugural post, in the #IT-elevate-women’s channel, Maya offered her advice to the next generation of women leaders. This post also kicked off International Women’s Day, 3/8/21

Our group wanted to highlight multiple aspects of the intricacies and challenges women face specifically in Information Technology. The plan of action was to initially post daily video content which addressed:

  • gender communications and the differences in male & female communication techniques.
  • women you admire in your life.
  • women-specific career barriers and stories of overcoming them.
  • a #ChoosetoChallenge theme to challenge our team members to commit to rise above gender inequities.

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let’s all choose to challenge. How will you help forge a gender equal world?Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”

How do we spur each other to commit to this challenge?

We asked everyone in the channel to strike the #ChooseToChallenge pose with their hand high to show their commitment. We wanted them to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes, help forge an inclusive world, and post their seflies in the slack channel. The response we received was wonderful as we had 34 selfies posted with everyone choosing to challenge in a multitude of ways. We did not want this page or conversations to die, so after our dedicated women’s week in March, we committed to keeping this content going. We introduced a weekly content topic called Women Wednesday. Every Wednesday, we take the opportunity to have anyone within our IT organization highlight a women-centric topic they feel passionate about to continue the conversations.

Our engagement statistics have certainly blown our expectations out of the water. The channel #It-elevate-women has 365 current members, 275 posts, and 2,406 reactions. It’s clear, we have opened a highly desired pipeline for communications. What started as a thought from a ragtag group of female and male coworkers who wanted to stop talking and start doing, has evolved into a place of genuine connection and continual conversation around women specifically in the corporate world of IT.

our author(s):
Ceanna Chisholm