Preena Johansen, who leads the Tableau CRM team at Telstra Enterprise, talks about how data can impact a business’ view of gender equality.
“We often view numbers as neutral, however data collection methods influence the final story which will be told,” she says. “In a lot of current reporting there is an absence of gender-disaggregated data, meaning an overall view doesn’t reflect the realities of an organisation. A person’s previous experience and unconscious bias will shape the collected data, how they collect that data and the questions they ask, how the overall problem statement has been worded, and the most important part – who is in the room making the decisions based on this data.”
Tell us about about your career in analytics and your current role
Preena Johansen, Product Owner, TCRM, Telstra Enterprise: Data has always been a big part of my career, from the start in month-to-month contracts completing data analysis in Excel to now leading the Tableau CRM team at Telstra Enterprise as a Product Owner. I have been fortunate enough to have experience in different industries such as Mining, Childcare, Retail and Communications and analysed data across Marketing, Procurement, HR and whole of business. Each analytical project has allowed me to appreciate the different ways that data can tell a story and influence business decisions at every level.
As a Product Owner, I own the delivery of work from the Tableau CRM platform, for B2B at Telstra. We have a small team of 5 who work closely with our business stakeholders for requests, integrate our legacy systems and data with Salesforce data and build AI models in Einstein Discovery and NBA. Internally I don’t currently champion any Tableau user groups, however we work closely with our stakeholders on providing showcases and tips and tricks to ensure the best end user experience for our dashboards.
Why is data so important in removing gender bias in the workplace?
PJ: Data tells a story, from the start where a baseline view is created to identify equality issues, the middle, where the initial views assist in creating action plans and the end where it assists in the removal of barriers so that everyone is able to enjoy equal rewards and have access to the same resources and opportunities, regardless of gender.
What about data, or the use/misuse of data, can make tackling gender bias more difficult?
PJ: We often view numbers as neutral, however data collection methods influence the final story which will be told. In a lot of current reporting there is an absence of gender-disaggregated data, meaning an overall view doesn’t reflect the realities of an organisation. A person’s previous experience and unconscious bias will shape the collected data, how they collect that data and the questions they ask, how the overall problem statement has been worded, and the most important part – who is in the room making the decisions based on this data.
What are some of the programs that colleagues in the technology industry should be aware of (WEGA, etc)?
PJ: A key program is WGEA – an Australian Government statutory agency created by the Workplace Gender Equality Act. The reporting covers gender pay gap, industry comparisons, women’s workforce participation, women’s representation in leadership and emerging trends in employer actions. Another program is the Australian Government ‘Advancing Women in STEM Strategy’ which provides information and support through education, recruitment and retention and visibility for women in STEM. There is also the ‘Tech Girls Movement Foundation’ which campaigns for a future of women in STEM by providing mentoring and skill-based programs for girls aged 7-17 through industry partnerships, school and parent collaboration.
What are some of the things that professionals in the industry can do to make a difference?
PJ: Be an ally, share your knowledge and stories, educate yourself and others around you and be transparent.
How have communities (such as Tableau’s) supported women in the analytics field?
PJ: By providing a place for women to network, feel supported and have access to resources to help them in their career. Internally in Telstra I am part of a program called Brilliant Connected Women which is about to launch a stream for ‘Women in Technology’ focussing on developing and promoting gender diversity in STEM. There is also a ‘Womens Partnership Group’ where we come together to share our stories and experiences with others. Although not specific to the analytics field I am also currently the co-lead of the Salesforce Brisbane Women in Technology Traiblazer group. The group is for women, allies and gender non-binary individuals who are part of the Salesforce ecosystem to meet, discuss and celebrate diversity and inclusion, as well as discuss ways to advance gender equality in the workplace and beyond.