Women Love Tech Editor Robyn Foyster talks to Inhi Suh, the President of Product & Technology for DocuSign. Inhi is a champion of women in tech and a role model for other women in the sector. Before joining the DocuSign executive team, Inhi served on the DocuSign board of directors since August 2018 and prior to that she was the General Manager of Global Strategic Partnerships at IBM.
You can watch the interview here:
Robyn: How do we get more women in tech, given you know more women are going through university than ever before, why is there this gender imbalance? What can we do about it?
Inhi: Boy, it’s been a lifelong passion and work. I’m also on the board of the Anita Borg Institute which is the largest nonprofit for women in STEM. It’s the primary sponsor for the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is the annual largest conference for women in STEM. We recently hosted the Grace Hopper conference just two weeks ago, and 30,000 women showed up, ranging from 18 to well over 60 years old, pursuing studies, training, job placements, and career advancement. Over the last decade, Anita Borg Institute has significantly grown. The first Grace Hopper conference had less than 5,000 women, and over the course of the last 10 years, it has annually drawn over 30,000 attendees, connecting and placing women in tech jobs.
Those companies that have a strategy around diversity and strategy for the advancement of women actually progress faster, not only around those important metrics, but around the business metrics, of revenue acceleration, brand uplift, storytelling, and employee engagement. And it’s one of those things where I think every year it gets. a little bit better, but we’re still far from where we should be.
Robyn: Are you KPI’ed for diversity and inclusion at DocuSign? Does this make a difference?
Inhi: It does make a difference, and we have this past last year for this year actually put a diversity metric for the leadership team at DocuSign
Robyn: Because I do think that that is one way forward. You know that it’s on people’s mind, not just because it’s the right thing to do but it’s also going to have a benefit for them.
Inhi: Definitely, I believe that different companies around the world, some have published that, and some have not, but it is another data point, which is to start with benchmarking yourself as a company, organization, or institution so you understand how to improve from where you are.
Robyn: Yeah, I think the other point is that tech is an exciting place to work. It’s also very well-paid. It also has the benefit of being very flexible, which for a lot of women and people of diverse backgrounds, and generally, the general public, want and desire. So that makes it a more compelling way to go. But if you think about DocuSign, it is the ultimate company to disrupt a company. Before digital, we didn’t have the ability to have a DocuSign. There will be more companies that come about and positions within those companies that will come about, so it’s only going to expand. Even jobs that you create would never have been able to have been created in the past.
Inhi: 100% agree with what you just said, which is for the advancements in technology, every year there will be new types of jobs and new skills required for those jobs. A simple test I give to everyone: I am pretty sure in calendar year 2022, most people had no idea what ChatGPT was, much less OpenAI, and because it’s only as Microsoft really and OpenAI and Azure came out with these capabilities, it became everyday language by business people and everyday consumers, not just tech individuals. So when you look at even the advancement in the last year, much less three years, it’s so far more than what was available five years ago. So there’s this unique value to skills evolution and training and work that will continue to evolve.
Robyn: The topics I discussed at SXSW Sydney included unconscious bias and AI, as well as the need for more diversity in the tech industry. I also interviewed someone about AI and unconscious bias who is developing trust architects in AI. That’s a job that’s never existed before. Who are those people who are correcting the areas that are not up to speed?
Inhi: I think the roles around trust, data privacy, governance, they’re emerging. It’s being written as we’re developing some of these capabilities in the industry, so there will be many more roles.
Robyn: That’s right. Dr. Catriona Wallace set up the Responsible Metaverse Organization here in Australia, and that’s a very new organization, and its aim is to regulate AI.
It’s been wonderful speaking to you. Thank you for sharing your amazing story, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I wish you and all the work that you’re doing at DocuSign all the best and success.
Inhi: Thank you, Robyn. It’s been great meeting you, and thank you for your time. I appreciate what you’re doing on your end to amplify these stories because I think each story that’s shared just shows you the potential of how diverse of a population we have as women. The more stories shared, you see more possibilities.
Robyn: One last question. What would you say to the young woman in the room that’s thinking about a future career in terms of thinking about a role in tech?
Inhi: Oh, I would say, first, be curious, be open-minded, learn, and be bold. Take risks, and you’re capable. You’re more capable than you might even realize.
Robyn: I think that’s wonderful. I think that’s what I’d say to my younger self too.
Inhi: I think we have the experience to know that. So yes, fantastic.