March is Women’s History Month – and 8th March is International Women’s Day. At SamKnows, we not only value diversity but make an effort to uphold principles that create a truly diverse company. Part of this is ensuring there are women across all sectors of the company, as well as having women in management and leadership positions. We’re so lucky to have such incredible women at SamKnows and this post is just one of many ways we hope to highlight how great they are and how much they’re appreciated!
Roxanne Botman is one of SamKnows newer members in a newly created role: People and Culture Manager. We spoke to her about being a woman in tech and the importance of propelling diversity in this industry, and asked her a few questions for International Women’s Day to get to know her better!
"Working as a people professional who’s worked in different industries, this is my first time working in a tech company. It's been really exciting learning about the intricacies of the roles and systems behind the screens I interact with on a daily basis. Well, it’s been an exciting challenge.
In my role as People & Culture Manager, diversity and inclusion is particularly important to me. It’s been refreshing that there isn’t a need for me to make a business case to improve this at the organisation, it is considered a core business need. My role is focussed on ensuring that the employee experience and policies lend itself to more inclusivity and equity, considering career progression, flexibility needs to pay gaps.
I am aware that most companies in the tech industry are typically made up of men. According to Tech Nation “ the tech workforce more broadly is made up of 81% men, and 19% women.” So, I found it particularly refreshing to see women leading teams at SamKnows with 42% women overall. More than that, the women who work here are respected and highly regarded. We would like to continue to develop our equity, diversity and inclusion approach. Ensuring that we consider all intersections of diversity (EDI) as well, which is important for me not only as a people professional but also a Black, queer, African immigrant woman.”
Getting to know Roxanne
Where has your career path taken you before SamKnows, and what’s one of your favourite things about your career or what you do?
I’ve worked as a people professional since leaving university, initially focussing primarily on the learning and development field. I’ve worked in different industries and company sizes, from Africa’s largest retailer, to a small digital marketing agency that required me to establish an eLearning division of the business. In 2018 I chose to change the trajectory of my life and moved to London to do my MBA studies at the University of East London.
Shortly after completing my final assignment I started working at a housing association where I really developed my passion for EDI, particularly enjoying my role as LGBT+ Network co-chair. Pivoting my career to be more focussed on overall employee experience at SamKnows has been an incredible opportunity with challenges that energise me.
What’s a piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
You are brave, beautiful and smart. You were made exactly right and the things that make you different will become a shining light for yourself and others. Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to share who you are.
What does women’s empowerment mean to you?
For me women’s empowerment means seeing women write their own rules on how to be, lead their own lives and lead others. Having the autonomy and respect to do things the way they think is right rather than trying to fit an existing mould of what it means to be successful. It means being able to recognise and celebrate the achievements big and small of women. It also means not limiting the definition of what it means to be a woman, but rather seeing how taking a more inclusive lens on womanhood can lead to more equity overall.
What is your hope/dream for younger women entering the tech industry now?
I hope that they feel free and confident and realise their perspective, and intelligence are needed in the industry. That they are always treated with respect and dignity and see themselves in leadership roles.
Who’s one of your favourite woman/women role models?
This one is really difficult, because there really are so many. I look up to so many women, like Winnie Mandela, Brenda Fassie, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Marlene Le Roux, Serena Williams, Janet Mock, my mother Beryl Botman and my wife Catherine or Dope Saint Jude.
I look up to them all for different reasons, but I would say the thing they have in common is that they are unapologetic about who they are.
Do you have any good reads you’d recommend for Women’s History Month?
Last year I read a book that changed my life called ‘The Awakened Women’ by Dr. Tererai Trent. It’s about tapping into your sacred dreams and making living according to your own passion and purpose real.