Why IBM’s CEO Overhaul is a Win for India, But a Loss for Women

The whole of India is again filled with pride as another Indian is being newly appointed as a CEO of a corporate heavyweight, and this time around it’s IBM. The company which is known as the crème de la crème of Silicon Valley recently announced that  Ginny Rometty would now be replaced by Arvind Krishna; Rometty is one of the few women leaders in tech who have ascended to such a powerful role for a number of years. Hence, while many an Indian keeps rejoicing about the appointment of Krishna, know that it is a loss for female leadership in tech which is so hard to come by even in this day and age; her exit means that there are now only 34 women CEOs in the Fortune 500 list.

Only 28 percent of startups have female founders today

The tech industry has had a notorious history with a skewed gender balance and this news seems to be setting the tone for the future, like Apple for example where today there are only 33 percent of women in its workforce. However, in terms of women in leadership positions the number drop to 29 percent. Among the various tech companies, it looks like Google has the most gender-balanced workforce where women make up 46 percent of the management team. But, the truth still remains that among all the startups in tech, only half have one woman in an executive position, according to Silicon Valley Bank who surveyed 1,377 technology and health startups in the US, UK, Canada, and China in 2019. Hence, the lack of women leaders in tech is almost unsurprising since only 28 percent of startups have female founders. 

One cannot deny her leadership which was hands-on and proactive

With regards to Arvind Krishna, one of the reasons he was appointed IBM’s new CEO was because of his work in the acquisition and integration of the open-source software provider Red Hat in June 2019; Rometty oversaw this acquisition too. This also means that Ginny Rometty’s exit is more to do with skills set than scandal or poor performance because Krishna comes from a technical background while Rometty comes from sales. However, one cannot deny her great leadership which was both hands-on and proactive, “She initiated bold moves to reposition IBM, which included acquiring 65 companies, contributing to the growth of hybrid cloud, security, industry, and data, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and blockchain. She presided over the Red Hat acquisition, one of the largest acquisitions in the company’s 108-year history,” said Forbes Magazine. After having headed the third-largest company in the world at a time where the tech world was and still struggles with gender equity, not to mention that IBM was going through struggles, there are no doubts that having a woman at the helm made all the difference. 

Image credit: News Nation

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